And so another European selection reaches its 'climax' tomorrow. Whilst Antony Hook has enjoyed it, his Returning Officer hasn't.
Up to the point that my Selection Committee and I concluded the interview phase and drew up a shortlist for the membership, it was fine and I was enjoying myself. Since then though, it has been pretty much downhill all the way.
I'm a fairly relaxed Returning Officer, minded to the avoidance of draconian rulings unless they are truly necessary, and willing to take a benign stance of minor, usually accidental, infringements. I like the face to face element of hustings and result announcements, the delivering of a candidate to an expectant Local Party. With a European selection, you lose much of that. Rulings are made from the centre, the count is computerised (and you don't even get to read out the printout!).
Worst of all, I have been put in the insidious position of having to implement rulings from a Senior Returning Officer whose view of the world is so removed from mine as to be positively interplanetary. He is entitled to his view, to be sure, but when I'm the one obliged to enforce it, I do wonder why my view is unworthy of consideration, yet my support for the outcome is so necessary.
Meanwhile, members take delight in sending me messages, excoriating me for the timetable, the membership rules, the fact that the Royal Mail went on strike. Candidates seem to delight in calling me at work and taking up time that could be better spent (luckily, I've found things to do whilst they talk). Most of these people assume that I'm a full-time Party officer (they clearly don't read this blog!) and treat me with almost total disregard.
Tomorrow afternoon, I am required to attend a briefing session prior to the count. A large part of me is inclined to stay well away, and spend the afternoon with Ros and my family. After all, what can they do to me? But no, I'll turn up and do my party piece, and swear never to do it again...