Being a PPC: The Work/Life Balance

Following last week’s blog on why I’m a PPC, I’m reflecting this week on the conundrum facing every PPC: how to manage a healthy work/life balance.

I’m starting from the premise that I am a much better PPC when I’m living in a balanced way, finding time for family, walks, reading books and (in my case) going to church. If all I did was politics, 24/7,  I don’t think I’d have perspective.

For many PPCs, it is a real struggle to balance work, downtime and the demands of being a PPC. I can relate. I’m self-employed, so in some respects it’s easier for me as I set my own schedule, and in other ways it’s more difficult in that I keep sacrificing work time for the never-ending asks coming my way.

I’ve managed to record two discs of music since being selected as a PPC in June. It has not been easy. But I am happier because of it. Until I am gainfully employed as a Member of Parliament, I need to keep up my day job – not only as a job, but also because it is who I am at the moment.

PPCs in target seats throw everything at winning – and I have had friends lose their houses, their businesses and their marriages as a result. Knowing up front what the costs are makes me more determined to take a reasoned view, and to make sure I still have a career, a relationship and a home intact whether I win or lose.

Party pressure can be intense, and of course we should, as PPCs, be expected to give a lot to the role. But there has to be a balance. In my view, it is a partnership between the local party, the national party and the PPC to win a seat. The PPC is a volunteer, as are the many supporting members of the local party. Together, they win the seat. It is the model we are using in North Devon.

Accepting you can’t do it all, but committing to do your bit – that is the secret to managing a stable life as a PPC.

* 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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6 Comments

  • Becoming a PPC is becoming more and more difficult for ordinary working people. With the demands of work, family and bills to pay. Which sane person will want to be a PPC. It is a thankless task.

  • David Warren 31st Jan '19 - 2:34pm

    Thanks for highlighting @LibDemer

    I have been raising the issue of the barriers faced by working people who want to be a PPC for some time.

    It is particularly difficult for those with limited financial means.

  • Mark Blackburn 31st Jan '19 - 7:26pm

    With a heavy heart I gave up being PPC where I live. With 24/7 politics nowadays due mainly to social media, I seriously wonder if it’s possible to be a PPC and have any sort of work or family life.

  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Jan '19 - 9:11pm

    I sympathise.

  • This is such a disappointing article. It only sets out that it is important to have a PPC/life/work balance without setting out how that is done. I assume if a PPC is employed, then they don’t do PPC work during work time, but might use their lunch hours to make casework telephone calls. I assume that Kirsten must allocate time on a Sunday to going to church. She doesn’t say if she allocates an evening to church related activities. Kirsten doesn’t say how much time she allocates to case work, how much time to writing press releases, or if she attends district and county council meetings in Devon. She does not talk of the more than three hours it takes her to get from her home in Oxfordshire to North Devon.

    However the issue must be weekends. Does Kirsten only do public facing PPC activities three Saturday afternoons a month so she can have a Saturday afternoon with her family at least once a month? She doesn’t say. At least she doesn’t have the pressure of annual elections for North Devon Council. There would be an expectation that the PPC go canvassing on both Saturdays and Sundays and most evenings from at least nomination day until polling day. There might be an expectation that the PPC takes some time off work for polling day and maybe other days during the campaign period.

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