I previously tipped Gerald Vernon-Jackson as the person most likely to win the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary selection in Portsmouth South – and he has indeed now been selected.
Whether he will have to fight existing – and now ex-Liberal Democrat – MP Mike Hancock at the polls is not yet clear. Hancock, despite being disowned by the Liberal Democrats, may yet fight the seat as an independent.
Gerald Vernon Jackson’s selection is good news for three reasons. First, it means the party has selected an out gay man to succeed a (now ex-) Liberal Democrat MP. It continues the promising pattern of the people being selected in seats held by Lib Dem MPs being far more diverse than the incumbents they are looking to succeed. If many or all of them win in 2015, the Parliamentary Party will be significantly more representative of the population overall.
Second, although he initially did not believe the allegations against Mike Hancock (and criticised a complainant), once he realised the mistake, he fought very hard internally to get Mike Hancock out. There was strong resistance from some fellow Liberal Democrats due to Hancock’s entrenched grip over parts of the local party. That meant to the outside world what happened looked dreadfully slow (and hence my criticisms at the time) – but Gerald Vernon-Jackson was key to getting the right outcome in the end. He’s apologised for the mistake and then worked hard to put it right – and the party could do with more, rather than fewer, people taking such an approach.
Third, he will be a great campaigning candidate and then MP.