Tag Archives: candidates

Fancy being a Lib Dem candidate? Our webinars show you how

The Candidate & Diversity Team will be hosting a series of webinars on the candidate process; covering aspects of approval, selection and candidacy.

The sessions will be led by some of the party’s most experienced candidates and trainers. Full details below:

Becoming an Approved Candidate |Thursday 13 April, 6.30pm| Trainer TBC

Covering:

  • The candidate application process
  • Assessment day preparation
  • Understanding the candidacy competency framework

Successful Selection |Monday 24 April, 6.30pm| Trainer: Lisa Smart, PPC for Hazel Grove 

  • Winning your selection campaign
  • Selection Literature
  • Communicating your message
  • Engaging local members
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Every single vote to 20%

There were nine by-elections in total on Thursday. Seven were spread out across England with one each in Scotland and Wales so after celebrating our two gains I decided that they represented a big enough cross section to do some analysis.

Across the seats we contested the average increase in our vote was 12.3% and our total vote share was an impressive 24.7%.

However, we only contested six of the by-elections. 1/3rd of the elections went ahead without any Liberal Democrat on the ballot. Unfortunately when you add in these three 0% figures our vote increase comes down to 8.2% and our vote share down to 16.5%

In the 2016 local elections the media glossed over the fact that we had the biggest number of net gains and were the only party to gain control of a council. But what they couldn’t gloss over was the fact that we’d pushed UKIP back into 4th place with our vote share. LAB 31%, CON 30%, LDEM 15%, UKIP 12%. Wherever the graphs and tables were shown it was clear that the Lib Dems were back.

Everyone is aware of the electoral reasons for always putting up a candidate but it really does matter for another reason which I will show you below.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Pregnant pause

Ruth BrightHere is a picture of a woman. There is something strange about her. Can you spot it? Well of course you can. She is from a very small and curious minority. She is a Liberal Democrat activist! The bump? Well that puts her in a numerically far more significant group. 700,000 women in this country have a baby each year. Having a baby is a normal thing to do. All the time people are saying that they want more candidates to be “normal” people. But being a pregnant candidate some years ago made me feel that I was in a freak show, the ultimate “elephant in the room”. Sadly I do not think that things in the party have changed very much.

Here are my top 6 clumsy attitudes to my “political” pregnancy:

  • Doing a speech and being told by a former councillor that I mustn’t get too big;
  • Being told by a former PPC’s wife at a party fundraiser that I was “a walking caesarean”;
  • “Oh no not another one”- reaction from a party chair when he spotted my second pregnancy;
  • “I’m afraid I could spot you all the way down the corridor” – party veteran at the Commons when I was 8 months pregnant;
  • “Have you got another one in there?” comment from local treasurer at my failure to shift the post-baby weight
  • Removal of my baby birth announcement from the local party website as it might help my imminent re-selection (!).
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How can we support candidates who can’t afford to stand for office?

With the #LibDemFightback still continuing after the announcement of our new Leader and by-elections happening almost every week across the country and the party making net gains, campaigners are now planning for next year’s local elections up and down the country. We may be under 5 years away from 2020, with a new vision and a path for the party to be decided, but what about candidates who want to stand for election but can’t  because they can’t afford to?

I write in response to last week’s article by Mark Argent regarding the financial exclusion of candidates. I thought about standing in the last election, but I didn’t feel it was the right time and I thought I didn’t have the finances I would need. There may be many prospective candidates wishing to stand for parliamentary seats, but feel they could not because they couldn’t afford to run a campaign for several months.

We as a party do need to look at the wider members within the party, especially the 17,000+ new members who could potentially be the next parliamentary candidate for their constituency. But what if they couldn’t financially contribute to the campaign? How should the party help them?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Candidates and financial exclusion

I’ve seen a number of comments recently about the financial cost of being a candidate. That is particularly sharp with people standing for parliament, but not limited to them.

As a party, we try to take diversity seriously. This is about justice and Liberal Democrat values. It’s pragmatic, in that we’re all diminished if we casually discard the talents of people from disadvantaged groups. There is also a bigger challenge: the changes we push for in society have to be made within the party and in our choice of candidates. Addressing problems this creates may not be easy, but is a first step to bringing change more widely. Addressing any problems this creates also helps us find ways to address barriers to change more widely.

One of the knotty points is around wealth.

The targeting of seats is unavoidable under our present electoral system, so there is no way round the fact that a high proportion of party’s resources has to be directed to winnable seats.

Away from target seats, the financial situation on candidates can be really difficult, especially when local parties are small and have limited resources. Yet it is also important to fight these seats, both to build up the party where it is presently less strong, and to be serious about being a potential party of government. I’ve seen guidance that potential candidates should not be asked what they can contribute financially to their campaign, as this discriminates against the less wealthy. But most parliamentary candidates work very hard in an election campaign and the pressure to end up putting more personal resources into the campaign can be intense — even if that pressure begins with them rather than anyone else. Anecdotes include someone saying they hoped there wouldn’t be another election soon as they had been self-funding and were more-or-less wiped out, and an agent asking the candidate to provide the deposit two days before the nomination form was to go in as if this was a perfectly reasonable request (and failing to register for their regional party’s deposit guarantee scheme).

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New access fund for London candidates – how you can help

We all know standing as a candidate involves huge personal and financial sacrifices. I’m always grateful to everyone who puts themselves forward – whether as a “paper” candidate flying the flag for the party, or even as a target seat candidate dedicating all hours of the day to the party.

For next year’s elections in London we will shortly be selecting our Mayoral candidate and 25 candidates for the London Assembly. Those candidates’ ability to lead and motivate our activists and to promote our messages is going to be critical to our performance at these elections. And the high profile London elections are an early opportunity to show the Lib Dem fightback in action.

But it is also critical that our field of candidates reflects the diversity of London in all its aspects.

We know our ability to communicate with all Londoners will be strengthened by presenting a field of candidates who reflect the city’s diversity. But we also understand the costs and sacrifices involved in attending hustings, community events, and local party campaign days.

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How not to motivate your exhausted, defeated candidates…

Let’s be honest, every single person who stood for the Liberal Democrats at the last election is a superstar. It would have been all to easy for people to decide to sit this one out because it was unlikely that we were ever going to make much in the way of progress outside our held seats. As it turned out, despite all the effort that wonderful teams on the ground put in, our parliamentary ranks were much depleted.

Yes, we will fight back, but we are all still really feeling it. Ed’s poignant piece On Being Beaten outlined the far-reaching effects of a bruising electoral defeat. At this time the Liberal Democrat family needs to be pulling together and looking after each other.

Sadly, looking after each other is something we haven’t been so good at in the past. We’ve tended to leave people who have put everything into their campaigns to lick their own wounds when they’ve lost, without showing enough appreciation and gratitude.

I thought we’d done better this time. Our peers, who were also campaign superstars, campaigning up and down the country, spent the weekend after the election phoning and thanking every candidate. I know how much that meant to my two.

It really looked like we had learned something. Another good thing about this election was that there were no inappropriate campaign emails to devastated members, candidates and activists. That is, until yesterday.

After every election, candidates are always asked to give feedback on the campaign and local parties are asked to give a report on their candidates. So far, so routine. Except yesterday’s “invitation” to participate was written in a most unappealing and demotivating manner, threatening people that if they didn’t complete the process (with one deadline being next Monday), they’d be dumped from the approved list. Here’s an excerpt:

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Opinion: Let’s talk about the candidates

Nick Clegg made a fine speech in Eastleigh on Monday morning recalling the fighting spirit that saw us win a famous victory.  He made a good case for why voters should vote for the Liberal Democrats with references to our Labour and Conservative opponents. He gave our activists and volunteers much needed encouragement to make a final push before polling day. But one thing he did not mention was our excellent candidates.

One of the best reasons for voting Lib Dem in one of our 60 target seats is the outstanding calibre and proven track record of many of our candidates. It is not just the party that has proved itself over the past five years, it is our MPs themselves.

Over the past five years our MPs have built an outstanding record of individual achievements. The roll of honour is long and it is always possible to find someone that any voter will admire, whether it be Steve Webb on pensions, Danny Alexander in the Treasury or Ed Davey on Green Energy or Lynn Featherstone on FGM and Jo Swinson on Gender Equality or Vince at the Department of Business or Norman Lamb on Mental Health – it is not just the issues we have tackled but the people who have done the hard work who are recognised.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 29 Comments

Setting up a Network of Experience

Liberal Democrat badge - Some rights reserved by Paul Walter, Newbury, UKWe have so many people in the party that have held office of one sort or another over the years. We must make sure that we find a way of retaining their expertise and at the same time give them the support that they need.

I have been thinking about setting up this new network for sometime but I think now, more than ever, it is the right time to do it. For too long many elected members who have lost their seats feel that their contribution to the party hasn’t been properly appreciated.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Alex Cole-Hamilton selected for Edinburgh Western

Alex Cole-Hamilton Edinburgh WesternThe Scottish Liberal Democrats are cracking ahead with selections for the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. Alex Cole-Hamilton has been selected for the constituency of Edinburgh Western. This seat is part of Mike Crockart’s Westminster constituency and was held by Liberal Democrat Margaret Smith from 1999-2011.

From the Edinburgh Evening News:

Despite this year’s independence referendum and next year’s Westminster elections, Lib Dems in Edinburgh Western have already chosen their candidate in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections and are promising a “relentless” drive to regain the seat from the SNP, who took it from them three years ago.

Former MSP Margaret Smith, who represented the constituency for 12 years, decided not to stand again.

In her place, charity worker Alex Cole-Hamilton – who has stood for both Holyrood and Westminster – has been selected to fight the seat.

He was chosen in a postal ballot of all party members in the constituency, which saw him win 71 per cent of the votes, with long-serving councillor Robert Aldridge the runner-up.

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