Candidate update

2020 sees us in a new electoral cycle with a more stable Government than we’ve seen for many years. With it comes a new set of challenges for the Lib Dems leading up to the next General Election in or before May 2024.

As part of these preparations, the English Candidates’ Committee (ECC) will very shortly be launching it’s Post-Election Candidate Review. The purpose of the Review, which is conducted after every General Election, is to understand how candidates performed in the face of the various challenges of the campaign trail. This process will cover England only, with separate arrangements being made for Scotland and Wales.

The Review will consist of questionnaires sent by email to candidates, their election agents and senior local party officers. Each group will receive a tailored set of questions to help determine strengths, weaknesses and future opportunities for each candidate.

The information gathered will be used to analyse the wider candidate experience, learn key lessons and where necessary make decisions about an individual’s suitability to continue in the role.

It is a critical exercise to make sure we field a team of effective and energetic PPCs, but also have a plan to provide the support they need.

Running alongside this will be a separate process for those people who are approved candidates but did not stand in 2019. This will focus on ensuring the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm of our candidate team remain high. Where an approved candidate has been inactive for some years then the ECC retains the power to withdraw their approved status.

It was clearly demonstrated in the 2019 General Election that social media is a major area of opportunity but also of risk. A range of bad news stories broke around the social media histories of candidates from all major political parties.

To ensure the Party is better placed to detect potential problem areas ahead of future elections, it has been agreed that Digital Risk Assessment (DRA) will be introduced for everyone seeking to become a Lib Dem candidate. The checks will be introduced across England, Scotland and Wales in the coming weeks, and will be compulsory.

In order to help cover the cost of DRA and to reflect wider increases to the costs of administration, the fee for becoming a candidate will be increased from £50 to £75. While this may seem a substantial hike, the fee has not changed since it’s introduction more than 15 years ago despite inflation. Furthermore, it is still considerably less than charged by other political parties.

We do not want to exclude members who cannot afford a substantial fee as inclusion is incredibly important to the Party and therefore we will continue to exempt applicants who can demonstrate financial hardship from paying the fee.

Both the review and the Digital Risk Assessment checks will help us prepare for the many challenges in the years ahead. Candidates will be at the forefront of the Party’s response to those challenges as key leaders on the ground, and we need to be sure they are ready.

* Richard Kember is candidates' manager for the Liberal Democrats

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This entry was posted in Campaign Corner.
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6 Comments

  • Peter Hirst 1st Feb '20 - 2:55pm

    What is the situation regarding PPCs and Agents retaining their status? It used to be for six months or until the end of the year, I think. Obviously, the latter is irrelevant for December’s election.

  • Good to hear there will be exceptions for paying the £ 75 fee, but in the interests of inclusivity and fully representing all sections of the community, how many (if any) Lib Dem candidates were actually in receipt of, or had experience of, Universal Credit or PIP in the last election ?

  • David Warren 2nd Feb '20 - 3:59pm

    @DavidRaw

    The answer to your question is almost certainly none. The reality is that for people like me from a blue collar background being a Lib Dem PPC is a pipe dream.

  • @ David Warren Funny you say that, David. Some lessons are never learned.

    Back in 1888 there was a by-election in the Liberal seat of mid-Lanarkshire. A local man sought the Liberal candidacy, but the middle class party caucus turned him down in favour of a posh rich Welsh barrister, the son of a baronet and the future Viscount St Davids.

    The local man they turned down had started work at the age of seven, and from the age of 10 he worked underground in the South Lanarkshire coal mines. He had a background in preaching, was a talented public speaker and was chosen as a spokesman for his fellow miners. His name ? James Keir Hardie.

    That Liberal caucus decision might be thought as one of those ‘if only’ seminal moments. The outcome was to affect the future of the Liberal Party.

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