By the time you read this you may know if the Tories triumphed in the Hartlepool by-election — or if, in the end, the party was too badly wounded by all that business about who paid for whose wallpaper. Boris Johnson visited the town more times than he visited Scotland in the campaign, so he certainly sensed victory. But who can predict elections nowadays? One thing, alas, is all but certain: I will have lost. I decided to stand as an independent candidate at the last minute, motivated by how much I loathe the apparatchiks at both main parties’ London HQs — disconnected, mediocre and disdainful. Just look at their candidates. Labour chose slick Paul Williams, booted out by his constituents in Stockton South for flouting their wishes in the Brexit referendum.