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Politicians are a disparate bunch. But if there’s one thing they’ve got in common it’s their love of a long-winded debate.
Perhaps that’s why Westminster has attracted its fair share of lawyers over the years - Herbert Asquith, David Lloyd George and Clement Attlee spring to mind. And Tony Blair.
If last week’s television debate between the pretenders to the Downing Street throne was anything to go by, the current breed of politician is more PR than ADR (David Cameron famously had a spell as head of corporate affairs at Carlton Communications, while Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown both had stints as journalists).
But the love-in with the media isn’t stopping a fresh crop of lawyers from trying their luck with the electorate. In this week’s issue we’ve staged a mini-debate of our own (page 14), with a clutch of prospective parliamentary candidate barristers and solicitors who covet a life of public service.
With the election campaign now in full swing we’ve obviously given equal coverage to all three main parties. While our debate wasn’t real (the candidates didn’t face off; in fact, they didn’t even meet), it does bear more than a passing resemblance to the televised version.
In the TV debate Lib Dem Clegg accused Cameron and Brown of “sounding the same”, selling himself on his difference. Looks like the party faithful were taking note.
hile Field Fisher Waterhouse partner and Labour PPC Hamish Sandison shares the same view as Murray Stable advocate and Tory PPC Donald Cameron on why lawyers are good for Parliament, Wragge & Co consultant and Lib Dem PPC Serena Tierney begs to differ.
“For a lawyer to actually improve the world by changing the law means you really can have an impact,” argues Sandison. Cameron concurs. “I think there’s always room for more lawyers,” he asserts, “seeing as we’re making the law [and] bring expertise of how legislation actually works.”
Tierney’s having none of it. “I take with me,” she reveals, “a burning ambition that comes from my experience as a lawyer - for a bonfire of unnecessary yards of legislation.”
A lawyer voting for less law? The Lib Dem faithful might like it, but does Quentin Poole know?