Being a PPC: what’s your motivation?

Caron asked me to write a series a little while ago about being a PPC – and my response at the time was that a day-in-the-life blog might put people off ever applying to be a PPC!

Being a PPC is hard work – we are volunteers and unpaid, but expected to do a huge amount of work building our teams, supporting local elections, sending out press releases, attending local events, answering letters and emails, the list goes on.

However, I willingly signed up to the never-ending work. Why? In my case it was my anger at poor mental health provision coupled with my fury at the inequality in society. Those two issues pushed me over the edge from being an armchair activist to getting out and knocking on doors, trying to make a difference.

I didn’t like door-knocking the first time – I thought I was intruding on people’s privacy by interrupting whatever they happened to be doing. But I quickly found out that most people like being asked their opinion and listened to. What they don’t like about politics is the shouting of Westminster and the perceived lack of understanding about how the real world works. Someone knocking on their door, listening to stories about their world, the real world, means a huge amount to them.

As a PPC, we can raise awareness of issues. It is a position of influence, being a voice for the voiceless. We can speak up at public events and make a point, we can argue a different view at hustings, we can put out press releases showing Lib Dems would do things differently, and we can write articles in local newsletters and Focus leaflets. Putting our views and the party’s views out there makes a difference. It shifts the conversation and reframes issues.

Anyone considering being a PPC needs to understand what motivates them and what they want to accomplish in their area. Being grounded in what you are in it for helps when the workload seems overwhelming and people are pulling you in all sorts of directions.

From my view, we need PPCs from a range of backgrounds, truly representing the breadth of the population. It is not just getting gender balance right, it is making sure we have diverse voices from all walks of life in the Parliamentary party, representing a range of viewpoints and lived experience.

Hopefully, I’ll be one of the first (not sure) classical musicians elected.

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

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  • Lots of classical singers (perhaps as amateurs, not professional?) out there, Kirsten. Not so sure on instrument players, but would be confident there are a few!

  • Kirsten Johnson 24th Jan '19 - 10:59am

    I realise there are loads of amateur yet gifted musicians, it is professional career classical musicians I’m not as sure about….

    Ruth, yes there are many struggling PPCs out there making huge sacrifices. I have heard some heartbreaking stories.

  • David Warren 24th Jan '19 - 11:26am

    Great article Kirsten and I really hope you are successful at the next election.

    I share your views about diversity and I tried to raise awareness of this a while back through my Blue Collar Liberals initiative.

    Sometimes I daydream about becoming the first ever Liberal Democrat MP who was formerly a postman.

    Don’t expect it will happen though to many barriers!

  • Martin Land 24th Jan '19 - 2:14pm

    My advice to people considering being a Lib Dem PPC? Don’t. The way you are treated by the electorate is bad enough – especially pressure groups – but that pales will into insignificance compared to the way you are treated by your own party.

  • Rosie Sharpley 25th Jan '19 - 12:36pm

    Bravo Kirsten, I do hope this will encourage some of our very able and enthusiastic members to pick up the challenge. I was a PPC in the 2005 and 2010 General Elections and I have to say there is not enough space in this thread to tell you what a fantastic experience it was for all the reasons outlined by Kirsten and more. In 2010 I was ably assisted by Rhurbarb,my lovely Parsons Jack Russell, given to me by a very generous fellow PPC. Rhurbarb really enjoyed doing a “Knock and Drop” in particular and to this day will jump excitedly by her lead at the mere mention of those words. I would ring the doorbell while she “sat nicely” on the doorstep with the leaflet at the ready. Eight years down the road she is remembered and greated with great enthusiasm having been included in probably most of our Campaign literature. So get yourselves a feisty little dog as a companion and go for it.

  • * big hugs for Martin Land *

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