Tara Hamilton-Miller: Cameron should act on mob rule

I cannot remember a more medieval reaction to the news of an extra-marital affair than that of the tryst between prospective parliamentary candidate Elizabeth Truss and MP Mark Field.

Tara Hamilton-Miller
Tara Hamilton-Miller

Why don't the good people of South West Norfolk chuck Truss into the River Wensum? If she sinks, consider her parliamentary candidacy; if she floats, yank her out and burn her. Too extreme? They could always drag her through Downham Market and shave her head.

It is chilling that a mob is prepared to put a woman through this. If her own husband has forgiven her, is that not enough? Not only are they putting her family through hell, this must be considerable strain on Field's ex-wife and his new wife and child.

Possibly the nastiest part of this tale is that the local association has decided to make Truss wait until 14 November to hear its decision. David Cameron does not want to be accused of interfering, but he should not have allowed a fortnight go by before Truss learns her fate. He should have insisted on a decision in 24 hours.

Cameron failed to anticipate how this would blow up, and failed to appreciate how many of the grassroots do not like being told how to select their candidates. This is only going to get worse, and he is going to have to manage months of disgruntled associations; this is just a taster of how venomous they have become.

For a party trying to increase female membership and MPs, the treatment of Truss has been disappointing. Cameron should have been stronger; deliberating on a specific marital affair is obviously not something he wants to get involved with a few months before an election, but the archaic treatment of this woman has been unsettling.

Best of luck to all female candidates who have not spent the past decade in a nunnery. Humans are not perfect. Pull back the curtain of politics, business, entertainment - even our PR industry - and you will discover that everyone is at it, has been at it and will continue to be at it for ever. Yes, even you, Mrs South West Norfolk Conservative Association. Where is your husband tonight?

Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team

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