UKIP’s Eastleigh candidate knows the political rough and tumble
Diane James, chosen yesterday to fight the Eastleigh by election for UKIP, will make an interesting rival to the Conservative, Maria Hutchings, who seems to be spending her time avoiding contact with journalists.
UKIP have stressed Mrs James’s long experience in healthcare and her disillusionment with “political interference” in local politics, which motivated her to join the party in 2010.
Unlike Ms Hutchings, she has a record for winning elections, and for coping with tabloid interest in her private life. In 2006, she scored a political upset in Waverley, in Surrey, by standing as an independent in a council by-election and beating all three of the main parties. She easily held the seat a year later.
The Labour Party does not feature in a place like Waverley, but Mrs James did have a small role in Labour’s history 15 years ago, when she had an affair with a defence expert named Ron Smith, who was working with the Defence Secretary George Robertson on the strategic defence review. Smith’s wife found out, and he resigned, in the vain hope that it could be kept quiet. Unfortunately, the Daily Mirror was onto the story. They made Mrs James, who was then 38, look glamorous, but the experience cannot have been a pleasant one.
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