With the writing on the wall, the Tory candidate barricaded herself in a room to avoid the cameras

Helen Hurford’s disappearing act at Tiverton and Honiton by-election will likely prove the most memorable moment of a lacklustre campaign

By Nick Gutteridge, Political Correspondent and Will Bolton www.telegraph.co.uk Extract

“She’s locked herself in a room!” Astonishment rippled through the assembled press pack as, barricaded in a dance studio, Helen Hurford, the Tory candidate in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, prepared to hear her fate.

Her early morning disappearing act at a leisure centre in southern Devon will likely prove to be the most memorable moment of a Conservative campaign that failed to spark into life.

Comparisons will inevitably be drawn with the famous occasion when, during the 2019 general election battle, Boris Johnson hid in a fridge to escape from the television cameras. 

Indeed, the Prime Minister dominated the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, just not in a way that Ms Hurford or the Tories would have wished. 

In a terrible night for the Tories, they lost a huge majority in Tiverton and Honiton and surrendered Wakefield to Labour.

The Conservative candidate and her supporters in Tiverton seemed shell-shocked by the result, which saw the party surrender a record 24,239 majority to the Liberal Democrats. 

She arrived at the Lords Meadow leisure centre in Crediton just before 3.30am, bolting past the assembled reporters towards a safe haven. 

Her team directed her towards a dance studio next to the main counting hall which, ironically, had been set aside for media interviews with the candidates. 

For the next 25 minutes they refused to let anybody in as a bigger and bigger media scrum assembled outside until, with the result imminent, she had to make a dash for it. 

Ms Hurford ducked a volley of questions about her defeat and the role of the Prime Minister and dashed next door to hear her fate confirmed. 

But there was one final indignity for the Conservative candidate, which came when she stumbled while filing towards the stage for the reading out of the results……

One thought on “With the writing on the wall, the Tory candidate barricaded herself in a room to avoid the cameras

  1. I hope people will refrain from blaming the candidate for this debacle. She is a Trojan horse not a pantomime one and a victim of the warped priorities of the bunch of users that form this shabby shadow of a Conservative party.
    For one thing this by election should not under any circumstances have happened. Neil Parish’s faux pas was only witnessed by colleagues and the sort of matter that would normally remain in the whips’ little black book. Did they offer him up out of integrity?
    Someone needed to distract the press from the Angela Rayner Basic Instinct smear.
    Now who on earth is sufficiently important to justify the loss of a popular MP and the resources needed to fight a campaign? Even one as inept as this.
    Who has a record of spaffing sickening schoolboy humour for an audience of sicophants?
    It’s not to the credit of the media that being thrown a morsel of Carry On smut they chose to take the bait and move on.
    It’s a little odd that someone with Helen Hurford’s trajectory of the last five years should have been seen as the right candidate for this moment in time.
    Two years as a successful, Ofsted raising headteacher which she left quietly to follow a childhood dream of a small beauticians business and spend more time with her children is one thing. To then decide she has spare energy to become a parish councillor as part of a sponsored “Independent” group and raise her profile around the district is also believeable, even though she declared party membership but not her address on her register of interests.
    The whole thing would make much more sense had she then stood for election for the district next year and perhaps the new constituency in 2024.
    Was that the plan? Was she being groomed for that role.
    She could and should still have won. But for the ineptitude of those running her campaign.
    The candidate we saw did not appear to be the sort of person who could produce a good Ofsted, even allowing for a small school and a significant level of involvement from the trust.
    Who on earth thought that coaching from such over promoted and divisive individuals as as Patel and Hernandez would be of help?
    Why was she hidden from the press and not allowed to be herself? To be dragged into the depths of supporting Johnson and the Rwanda policy.
    The final ignominy is being brought late to the count, hidden away, and not even allowed to make the customary concession speech. As a former head teacher we can assume she does know how to behave. Voters will remember that.
    It’s likely she previously had a professor Higgins nurturing the development of her career, or even a group. I wonder how they feel about how she has been let down.
    The ferrets will be fighting in the East Devon Tory sack.


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