Many happy poll returns for Uttoxeter director MacDonald
There was one ray of light for Theresa May at the end of a miserable week – thanks to the man in charge of Uttoxeter racecourse.
Just a day after the beleaguered prime minister had coughed her way to the end of a troubled party conference, executive director David MacDonald clinched a nail-biting victory for the Conservatives in a local authority by-election.
MacDonald turned 55 on the day of the poll for the Burbage ward of the Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council, and recalling the events of last Friday said: "It was probably the strangest birthday I've ever had.
"I got up at 7am and was pounding the streets; we must have visited 700 houses and knocked on door after door. I had one hour's sleep, then got up to go to the count."
It took a recount before MacDonald was confirmed the winner of the Leicestershire ward at around 12.45am, by 37 votes out of around 2,000. "I won't say I won by a nose but it felt like it!" he reflected.
"The ward has swung both ways, it's been a Lib Dem seat in the past and they hoped to win it – they won a similar by-election for the parish last year, so we knew it would be close."
Not giving up the day job
MacDonald stressed his council duties will not interfere with his role at Uttoxeter and he received the backing of Arena Racing Company chiefs Martin Cruddace and Mark Spincer before putting his name forward.
"I made clear the job comes first and I'd use my lieu time on council meetings, which are once every other month," he said.
"The political angle is quite useful in racing. I had two MPs out campaigning with me, including Andrew Griffiths, the MP for Burton, who is the Lord Commissioner to the Treasury, and one of the whips.
"We've been encouraged by the BHA and RCA to get close to our MPs and I don't think you can get closer than campaigning, and I've developed a friendship with someone at the top table of government, who now completely understands racing."
MacDonald also stressed the importance of standing in his home town, rather than in Uttoxeter itself.
"That was the right decision because I've racing customers of all persuasions and I think it would be a conflict of interest if I stood here," he said.
"And I stood very much on local issues. While I stand under the Conservative banner it doesn't matter what persuasion people are, I'm standing up for people of the area."
MacDonald will not attempt to climb further up the political ladder while he is still running a racecourse, but did not rule out following the career path in the future and he added: "I think this is a sensible way to dip my toes into the political waters."
Paddy Power quote MacDonald at 4-1 to be an MP after the next general election and 33-1 to be prime minister in his career.
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