I was genuinely disappointed to see that Rob Marchant, author of the Centre Left blog has pulled out of the Darlington PPC selection process at a relatively early stage.
Rob had pinned his hopes on winning the nomination of Darlington's Co-operative Party members, but this went instead to Dan Whittle. I hear that both Rob and Dan performed powerfully at the meeting.
Rob was the only candidate to date to use blogging as a way of engaging with members - though perhaps he was most successful in hearing from our '2 Ians' from Hurworth in another constituency entirely!
Rob was good enough to ring me at the start of the process to ask advice about starting up a blog here in Darlington as part of his push for candidature - I don't think I'm breaking any confidences when I tell you I explained that in my opinion, it wins very few votes indeed. Indeed, as you know, I spend an inordinate amount of time reading personally abusive comments from anonymous idiots.
In the longer term, however, I still think that blogging specifically and the internet in general can play a powerful role in communicating with residents about political issues big and small. I hope that whoever wins the nomination will take up Mike M's challenge issued to me and other councillors 3 years ago + to use the medium creatively.
I'm sure we'll hear abourt Rob again, but in the context of another seat, between now and the next General Election.