Liz Jarvis on gaining the confidence to stand as a parliamentary candidate

This weekend, a group of Lib Dem women will gather in a hotel in Milton Keynes for a weekend which, for some if not all of them, could be life-changing.

The third Future Women MPs weekend in the last year or so takes place. I remember going on a weekend like that back in the 90s and I made friends for life as well as learned valuable skills.

Caroline Voaden, now an MEP, went on one of these events last year along with a load of young Scottish women.

As this takes place, Liz Jarvis, a London writer who joined us last year after a lifetime of supporting Labour, has written for The Parliament Project about her experience in the party and how a Parliament Project initiative helped her develop the confidence to stand:

Through Lib Dem Women I found a mentor from the party’s Campaign for Gender Balance; she was incredibly encouraging and gave me lots of invaluable support and advice for what I needed to do to achieve my goal of becoming an approved parliamentary candidate. She also helped me see that my imagined barriers to standing – my age, the fact I haven’t been a career politician – could actually be turned into positives. I also discovered the Parliament Project via Twitter, and was thrilled when I was accepted on to the 12 week online Peer Support Circles at the start of January.

The sessions were every fortnight, which was manageable, and I loved ‘meeting’ the other women and sharing our political journeys, as well as the assignments we were given, which were fun and challenging. Each session felt as though we were making progress and exchanging ideas and experiences was incredibly rewarding.

And it’s helped her on her journey in the Lib Dems:

Since the conclusion of this round of Peer Support Circles, I have continued on my journey, campaigning and being as active as I possibly can (admittedly not easy when you work full time), and I’m as confident on the doorstep and phone talking to voters as I am meeting MPs, Lords and Baronesses. I try to encourage as many women as I can to consider standing too, wherever I meet them.

In May, following several sessions with my wonderful party mentor, endless policy revision sessions with my son and an intense day at party HQ, I was absolutely delighted to be approved as a parliamentary candidate. Now I’m on the path to selection as a prospective parliamentary candidate – not easy when you have so many talented people in the party, and there are a lot of sharp elbows, but I’m determined to get there.

If any of these sorts of things appeals to you, watch out for announcements about forthcoming Future Women MPs’ Weekends and sign up for the Parliament Project’s email list to get details of their next peer circles group.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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2 Comments

  • On Tuesday’s evidence at Cardiff we should retain seats in Westbury and Richmond tonight, the latter would be good because it has been one of the safest Conservative wards in the borough. Could we get some gains, who knows in the apparent febrile climate, maybe Ashford, if not ourselves the Greens, Daventry maybe, Aberystwth looks safe for Plaid. A good night would be another one in the eye for Johnson, especially after his appaling effort & gaffe with “kippers” yesterday.

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