Ever thought of standing for Parliament?

The new approvals process for Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidates is now up and running in England. (Scotland and Wales will be adopting the process in the near future).

I’m one of the first to have gone through the new scheme, so I thought I’d give the inside track on it – and encourage more people to apply. There are still plenty of vacancies around the country for the role of PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) and YOU may just be the person to fill one of them!

The new process is designed to be as accessible as possible. It assesses competences rather than qualifications, and an epic and illustrious track record in the Party is not necessary. The previous long and probing application form has been replaced with a much shorter one, so that the onus is on the day itself: this way you get to show off in person what you’re good at. It gives a good snapshot of you as a potential candidate.

So what’s all this about “competences”? That’s just another way of saying “skills” – not connections, degrees, high-flying career, etc. Whatever your hinterland, the assessors are looking for evidence of valuable skills. And it’s up to you how you show them.

The competences you’ll need to demonstrate are:

• Communication Skills
• Leadership
• Strategic thinking and judgement
• Representing people
• Resilience
• Values in action

These can be gained in many areas of life. And let’s face it, we need to see a LOT more diversity among our representatives. So if you’re thinking, “I’m not the type to become an MP or candidate,” then think again. Your unique background and talents may be just the things to bring to the, er, Party!

Maybe you’ve been doing voluntary work, bringing up a family, or doing a job not directly related to politics. Your transferrable skills will be recognised. Make sure you can also show sound knowledge of campaigning and Liberal Democrat policy, and you’ll be equipped.

The Assessment Day itself is split into five sections, with a mixture of written and spoken exercises. I found that this gave the day variety and an interesting change of pace. These also test the six competences from a number of angles, so it’s reassuringly thorough. The panel of assessors collates all your results at the end of the day, and you’ll be notified of the outcome a few days later.

(A quick aside for those who are new to the party: you need to have been a member for at least a year before applying for assessment. However, there’s no need to wait before you start getting experience and information. I recommend that you get cracking as soon as you can, in local campaigns, by-elections, etc. Go along to Party events and training as these are further great ways to meet people who can advise you.)

Well since you’ve read this far, you’re obviously interested: Why not find out more?

Come to the official launch of the new Candidates’ Approval Process at Party Conference in Bournemouth:
Sunday 14th September, 1-2pm at Bayview 2, Bournemouth International Centre.

If you’re not at Conference, or if you’re suitably fired-up afterwards, visit the new Liberal Democrat website for more info on becoming an Approved Candidate. The English Candidates’ Office has a friendly team who can explain the competences in more detail, as well as pointing you towards any training or mentoring you may require.

Send off for an application pack soon, and good luck!

* Helen Duffett is a Liberal Democrat campaigner in the London Borough of Redbridge.

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This entry was posted in Parliament.


  • Good to see this article Helen. I hope the Scottish and Welsh parties do adopt the new scheme as it sounds a big improvement but I don’t believe they have formally agreed that yet so let’s not get ahead of ourselves (unless anyone wants to correct me?).

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