Much of today was spent with Tom Tugendhat preparing our questions then interviewing three truly outstanding intern applicants.
The full time paid internship is to work as part of the West Kent Campaign Team, but seconded to Tom Tugendhat's parliamentary campaign. Tom has raised the money to cover the salary, but any spare time will be used to assist with the general running of the West Kent HQ. Jon and I are looking forward to a new member of the team, bringing new ideas and fresh thinking.
All three final applicants would have been outstanding, and each would have brought different qualities to the job. In fact, we had a to have quite a long discussion over the balance of the strengths we were looking for, to enable us to reach a decision. It was a hard choice.
One of the areas we decided to test was each applicant's ability to cope with hostile questions, and in particular how they would cope defending a party line if it conflicted with their own views; something they will need to deal with on the campaign trail. We chose equal marriage as the potential point of conflict. Tom asked, "I am a Roman Catholic and many people of faith strongly object to the redefinition of marriage they believe it is wrong and find it offensive. Don't you agree? "
It was tough question. At the Open Primary all four finalists confirmed their support for equal marriage, but the applicants weren't to know that. Would they say what they they thought their potential employer wanted to hear? Would they defend the government's policy? Or would they try to find words to avoid answering the question?
I need not have worried. All three stated unambiguously that they supported equality and social justice, two even telling Tom that they thought he was wrong. All three were fearless, principled and clearly determined to stand up for what the believed to be right, even when the thought the guy offering them a job may hold a different view. They should all be proud of their courage and principles, I am not sure if a 23 year old Andrew Kennedy would have demonstrated such tenacity and clarity of thought.
So the process is over, and Tom will be contacting all three applicants tomorrow to thank them for their efforts and congratulate the successful applicant. All of them indicated that they read this blog, so I wanted to add my personal thanks for the interest shown; not just the three we invited for interview, but to all applicants who responded to our advert. We really were spoilt for choice. But to the three who attended our interview today; you were all outstanding and I would have been personally delighted to work with any of you. Thank you!