Tag Archives: local government elections

Mark Pack writes…Why we need more Council candidates

When we debate party policy, strategy or election tactics, questions about what might attract or put off voters often – and rightly – come up. But there’s one sure-fire, 100% guaranteed, rock-solid way of repelling voters from us, and it’s one we use far too often. It’s not having a Liberal Democrat on the ballot paper. Zero votes for the party guaranteed.

Both Labour and the Conservatives, for example, get very close now to having a full slate of candidates in local elections. Despite improvements in recent years, we are still lagging a long way behind, and not yet back to where we used to be. So we know we can do better – because we have.

Even in wards where multiple seats are up for election and where we stand someone but not a full slate it is still a problem – as we’re still forcing people to vote for someone other than us.

With the important exception of STV elections in Scotland, of course, where the way the voting system works means standing ‘too many’ candidates harms our election chances in a way that doesn’t happen under first past the post. So in Scotland, it’s at least one candidate in each ward that’s the equivalent of the full slates we should be aiming for elsewhere.

Of the council seats coming up in May, we fought 63% of them in England and Wales last time out, and we had at least one candidate in 73% of Scottish wards. Those numbers are on the up – but still short of where we want to be. Remember – every single voter gets a ballot paper, showing them whether we are standing or not.

Standing candidates isn’t only about credibility and relevance. It’s also the way to get more people into the habit of regularly voting for the Liberal Democrats – a crucial step in building the sort of larger core vote for the party that will help us succeed more often.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Rod Cantrill is the Lib Dem candidate for Cambridgeshire Mayor

Cambridge City Councillor Rod Cantrill has been chosen as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Cambridgeshire.

From the Ely Standard:

Cllr Cantrill, who has lived in Cambridgeshire for over 30 years, has a background in finance. He has run his own financial consulting business since 2003 and was first elected as a city councillor in 2004.

In June’s EU referendum he was a key figure in a leading local cross-party Remain campaign working with Labour, Conservative and Green campaigners to fight for what he believed was best for our county and our country.

He said: “Our area has many opportunities for growth

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ALDC’s by-election report – 29 September 2016

ALDC Master Logo (for screen)This week has seen eight principal council by-elections across the country with Lib Dem candidates contesting six of them.

The team in North Norfolk have faced another by-election, this time in Glaven Valley with our great candidate Karen Ward. This was a Lib Dem defence and the team managed the following result:

Posted in Council by-elections | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Building more diverse council groups

I’ve seen a lot of posts on Facebook and heard questions at Lib Dem socials about how to recruit more women and diverse candidates for council elections. There seems to be a real willingness to do it but not always a clear idea of how. Here are my three top tips – I’d be interested in what others have done.

  1. SET TARGETS. Look at the demographics of your area and propose that your local party Exec or campaign team buy into the idea of taking some action and agreeing targets. You could decide that 50% of target council seats will be held by women; and/or 50% of all council seats. You can adopt targets for BAME /LGBT+ and people with disabilities too. Telling potential council candidates that you are taking positive steps to better reflect the local community you want to serve is a very strong recruitment message.
  2. TARGETED RECRUITMENT. Filter your ‘strong Lib Dem’ data on Connect by gender, and approach the women on the list first – of course you need to have a conversation to check that they really do ‘live our values.’ Look at the local residents’ associations, Parish Councillors, and residents who are vocal on local Facebook forums etc, and those who are involved in civic campaigns that overlap with our values (for example local Amnesty groups, Transition Towns etc), identify the people you know to be from under-represented groups and cross-check them with your canvass data, or go and canvass them.
  3. DON’T PUSH FOR AN IMMEDIATE ANSWER. For all sorts of reasons, men are more likely to say ‘yes’ to standing or even put themselves forward without being asked. Statistically, women are more likely to be care-givers (for children and/or ageing parents), and women and people from BAME backgrounds are more likely to be in lower-paid jobs (which can require night-shifts / unusual hours) so unless they immediately rule it out (and by this I mean they say “no way, not a chance, never”), their thinking might jump ahead to ‘how can I fit it all in?’ They are also more likely to want to discuss the idea with friends and family to gauge their reaction too. In short, you may have to ask, then give them a few days to think about it, offer to give them the chance to speak to someone with similar circumstances and agree to give them a follow up call a few days later. Even inviting them out for a ‘taster session’ of door knocking. You’ll need to be prepared to change campaign sessions around their lives. If there’s no-one in your area with similar circumstances, you can post on here and I expect someone will volunteer to speak to them.

It does require more effort but consider it an investment of time that will help you find under-used talent. I’ve been part of a team that has done this and just this year we found two brilliant new by-election candidates who gave it everything.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

What one piece of advice would you give a new Council candidate?

A wonderful new Liberal Democrat council candidate asked me the other week for some advice.

I thought that the most important thing she could do would be to join ALDC. The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners has a veritable treasure trove of resources to help your campaign. I’ve known many a councillor over the years who did what they said and won. Winning is not guaranteed, of course, but following their ideas makes it more likely.

It’s also worth going to their training events, particularly their Kickstart weekend when you will get individualised support for your team and your area. There are three this year. The first is in Scotland on 2nd July, then the main south of the border events take place from 2-4 September and from 25-27 November.

I see ALDC very much as a professional support organisation – a decent one that is constantly looking to enhance the skills of its members.

All it will cost you is £3.41 per month. It’s well worth it.  You can join here

Posted in News | Also tagged | 15 Comments

Opinion: 20 years of going nowhere, Liberal Democrat gender balance in council elections

Twenty years of progress, followed by twenty years of stalling. That’s the overall picture of Liberal Democrat (and before that Alliance / Liberal Party) progress towards gender equality at local government elections, whether measured in terms of candidates or people elected.

Looking at local elections in England, a mere 20% of the Liberal Party’s candidates were female in 1973 and the figure was even lower, 18%, amongst those elected. By 1991 both figures had risen to 34%. Since then, however, the figures have bounced up and down around a long-term flat trend, with both hitting 30% in the latest figures for …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 18 Comments
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