Lib Dem Reading West PPC steps down

From the GetReading website comes news that Patrick Murray, the party’s Parliamentary candidate in Reading West – and occasional contributor to Lib Dem Voice – has decided not to contest the seat at the forthcoming general election:

Mr Murray, 27, has announced his decision not to stand at the General Election. He said the decision of the sitting MP Martin Salter to stand down had made him realise he would not have the time to fight the seat.

When asked whether he was ever a serious candidate, he said: “I was a serious candidate and while I was carrying out my post graduate studies and working as a councillor in Oxford, campaigning in Reading West was just about manageable.

“But now I have got to find a full-time job, realistically I realised that something had got to give and I decided with regret that it would have to be my role as a candidate.”

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19 Comments

  • In plain English,he’s realised that standing for Reading West is a lost cause and a complete waste of time.

  • Richard Huzzey 26th Aug '09 - 11:26pm

    John Zims – I doubt Patrick’s estimation of the seat’s winnability has changed, just his circumstances.

    It suggests there’s something wrong with our expectations of PPCs that he doesn’t feel he can continue. We are in danger of independent wealth being the prime determination of who is a candidate for parliament (across all parties).

  • This happens in all parties, I’m sure Patrick would of made a good MP for Reading unfortunately having a life outside of politics and running for MP are becoming increasingly incompatible. He is not the first to resign for those reasons and sadly wont be the last.

  • Selection committees should perhaps look in more detail at the current and possible future circumstances of candidates to avoid PPCs jumping ship like this….

  • Richard Huzzey 27th Aug '09 - 12:19am

    Felix – But doesn’t that mean that being a PPC will be restricted more and more to people of independent wealth, and older people whose jobs are less likely to require geographical relocation?

  • “Selection committees should perhaps look in more detail at the current and possible future circumstances of candidates to avoid PPCs jumping ship like this….”

    And how are they supposed to see 3-4 years into the future?

  • It is good to see that Stephen Tall has publicised this one, as the tendency is to keep these events “close to the chest” of the PPC and the constituency concerned. Not only is the PPC normally a volunteer, like others in the local party, but expectations often seem artificially high, on all sides. Lloyd is right that others have done the same – and this is the case across other parties also. I think we would be wrong to draw the conclusion that it is always a negative thing, and that we should cling on to PPCs for dear life (and I speak having been one myself!) Comments about selection panels etc are usually not especially “on the button”, as most lists of applicants for seats are very short! I think you need to look at the perceived political / electoral situation (as conveniently outlined in the LDV poll today!), the length of this Parliament – people simply can’t “hang on” this long! – and the number of things which can go wrong / be perceived to go wrong over 4 or more years. Most of the other comments made here are sadly, only too true.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Aug '09 - 9:21am


    In plain English, he’s realised that standing for Reading West is a lost cause and a complete waste of time.

    No, it is not a complete waste of time to stand candidates in constituencies where our chances of winning are small. People expect there to be a candidate from all the major parties, and the overall national party vote is a significant figure. There are many places is the country where our party has an MP or runs the council where not long ago it would have been said it was a complete waste of time bothering to fight election. Our party has been kept alive by people who did not think it a complete waste of time to organise campaigns for and fight elections they did not expect to win.

    The point, however, is that if being a PPC is supposed to involve huge amounts of work for a prolonged period of time, it’s something which anyone who has a career or family will find difficult to take up. Our party has depended for its survival and growth on people who, for various reasons, have been able to devote enormous amounts of time and energy to it. In many cases where our party is now strong I can name the person or people who did that. Sometimes it’s actually a behind-the-scenes organiser who hasn’t gained any sort of power or fame for it. Sometimes it’s someone who took it so far, then was exhausted or couldn’t drop family/work commitments to take up the opportunities s/he had created by growing the party and had to hand over to the ones who got the power and fame. These people should be applauded and too often they are not. The national image of politics is about fat cat MPs who are in it to make money. Why can’t our party create an image which tells the truth about how it works on the ground?

    We should not necessarily suppose the PPC should be the on-the-ground organiser, sometimes s/he is, but sometimes we have too much of an expectation that whoever is picked will do that.

    Another point which may be an issue here is that general elections tend to come every four years, the five year wait indicates a party which is hanging on because it knows it’s going to lose. When Patrick Murray writes “Now I have a full time job” it seems to me his expectation was probably to fight the election in 2009 and then get on with his career, he hadn’t expected to be spending another year doing the PPC thing. There are probably many people who’d be happy to put other things on hold to be a PPC for a short time, but cannot commit to an indefinite period which may be several years.

  • You are so right, Matthew!

  • “if being a PPC is supposed to involve huge amounts of work for a prolonged period of time”

    I described being a PPC as running a marathon every week, throwing £10 notes over your shoulder as you run….

    People’s situations change (not just for PPCs – at least two MPs have stood down close to elections in recent years) and I don’t think you can create a system that will be able to deal with that.

  • More on this here from August 20th, with Labour using LD ‘two horse race’ rhetoric.

    http://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news/roundup/articles/2009/08/20/40781

  • Roger Shade 27th Aug '09 - 3:51pm

    The sad thing is that the Conservatives can now offer many people a full time job in the next Parliament. David Cameron can now happily advertise for ambitious young men or women, who sympathies are vaguely Conservative, to be MPs starting 2010. Some are receiving adequate financial support as Portfolio Holders on their Local Council and via generous support from rich Tory donors.

  • Daniel Bowen 27th Aug '09 - 5:55pm

    Politico – it is unsurprising that Labour are using that line in Reading West. They have more sense than to bother in Reading East where they have totally collapsed and know it is Gareth Epps breathing down the Tories’ neck.

  • I agree with the last point. A couple of years ago Simon Hughes said we should advertise more widely for candidates in women’s mags, on websites etc. Presumably if these non-members had been accepted they would need to be fast-tracked. We need a wider variety of talented candidates NOW, not keep them hanging around for 12 months.

  • Grammar Police 28th Aug '09 - 10:48am

    On the subject of people in glass houses Chris P, I’m sure you produce equally long and, er, “detailed” posts about certain Labour MPs?

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