10 OCTOBER 1987, Page 5


WHEN aspiring male Conservative politi- cians seek selection as constituency candi- dates, the local party bases its choice, it is said, not on the character of the would-be MP, but on the appearance of his wife. In the case of the unmarried former MP Mr Keith Best, the Ynys Mon Conservative Association was clearly prepared to break with this tradition. Yet Mr Best has disco- vered to his cost that there are some audiences even more reluctant to give the benefit of the doubt to the unattached male. Whereas the judge at Southwark Crown Court was prepared to hand down a custodial sentence for Mr Best's fairly 'We're here just as much to protect you from Mr Tebbit.' innocuous act of deception, Mr Geoffrey Collier had merely been fined at Wimble- don Crown Court for a much more serious — and profitable — offence of insider dealing. At the time it was clear that the clemency shown to Mr Collier — a far clearer case of City corruption than the pathetic Mr Best — was almost entirely due to the judge's sympathy for the sub- urban plight of Mrs Collier. Clever ex-Tory MP Mr Jeffrey Archer certainly under- stood the way in which the courts resemble Conservative party selection committees. The judge's summing up in his favour at the end of his action against the The Star was in the nature of a character reference for the ever-present Mrs Archer, rather than the actual victim of the libel. Who says that bachelors have more fun?