Being a PPC – managing demands

One common interview question, which we used when hiring our Organiser and is used in many jobs, is that of prioritisation: you have lots of demands on your time and are faced with a long list of tasks, which do you do first?

Prioritisation seems to be an ever-present task as PPC. There is only one of you but 1001 things that need doing. Help?!

Yesterday I went through three sets of my list – the first version which I had written the night before on how I would get things done the next day as the asks seemed insurmountable; the second version made at coffee time before rushing out the door to a meeting, of the things that still needed doing and ranking which was most important; and then a third version, a yet-again-revised list of things that had to be absolutely done that day, with a new list of what could be left for the next day.

There is never enough time. Prioritisation is key, with an emphasis on delegating what others can do. I am more and more saying to those around me,  “I am going to concentrate on what I am meant to be doing as PPC.” But in the real world, it never works out that way.

Ideally, I’d like to see more of a structure around PPCs – in target and non-target seats. This is one reason I am keen on the Candidate’s Compact, which is now used much more widely. It sets out what the PPC’s role is and what the Local Party’s supporting role should be. There are clear responsibilities for both, and this can be referenced when conflicts arise.

I think managing demands, which is the title of this piece, goes hand-in-hand with managing expectations. A PPC is a real person, not a super-human. Yes, we should manage the demands placed on us and use our time wisely, but part of that is also saying ‘no, that is not my job as PPC.’

Easier said than done. For those of you applying to be approved as PPCs, be prepared for a roller-coaster ride with all the thrills of the highs and lows. It is a true life experience like none other.

* Kirsten Johnson was the PPC for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election. She is a pianist and composer at www.kirstenjohnsonpiano.com.

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One Comment

  • Peter Chambers 17th Feb '19 - 8:16pm

    Structure is boring but important.

    I seem to recall this was something that sensible people tried to tell the first Blair government, seemingly taking several years to get through.

    More recently Sophie Walker of the Women’s Equality Party stepped down, saying that she wanted to put in place more structure around candidates.

    Just possibly a party that wanted to scale out, and elect a larger number of MPs should look at structure. We tried a hero culture in the twentieth century, breaking though at the expense of the health of various people. We could do better at the next attempt.

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