Want to fly the Liberal Democrat banner in 2022 (or maybe sooner)?

It is easy to forget sometimes that a majority of Liberal Democrat members have joined since the 2015 General Election. Even in my rural corner of England that is Mid Suffolk, membership numbers have increased by more than 150%. What that means is a huge infusion of new blood, potentially willing to hold aloft the Party banner in elections, if only they could find out how. Perhaps I can help…

It may surprise some readers to hear that the process of selecting Parliamentary candidates is already underway in some constituencies. In some cases, they might represent potential target seats for 2022, in others a reflection of a reasonably held fear of another snap General Election. What that means is that an enthusiastic new member, willing to be a Parliamentary candidate, may find that the option is effectively closed off before they have a chance to take part.

So, how does the process work? Put simply, you need to apply for approval as a potential candidate, complete the application form, attend (and pass!) an assessment day and, hey presto, you’re free to compete in any selection you are interested in, as and when they are advertised. Sounds simple, in principle…

The catch is that it takes time. The form has to be processed by the Candidates Office at Party HQ, an assessment day needs to be organised within reach of where you live. And, given that the Regional Candidate Chairs, the assessors and facilitators are all volunteers, and that you need a critical mass of applicants to be able to run an assessment day, it won’t happen immediately.

So, if you’re interested, find out more. And even if you haven’t got a particular seat in mind, but are confident that you’d be interested, then there’s no time like the present, because you never know when your opportunity will come. Just ask Sarah Olney…

For more information, check out the Party’s website. And don’t forget, your Local Party might be keen to have a local candidate, and be able to support you with knowledge and experience.

* Mark Valladares is one of the Party’s Senior Returning Officers, and a former Parliamentary Candidate Assessor.

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This entry was posted in Party policy and internal matters.


  • We do need more candidates from BME communities. Are the party doing anything of note to build support and activism within these hard to reach communities ?

  • Laurence Cox 6th Oct '17 - 3:08pm

    One other point Mark, you do have to have been a Party member for one year (England and Wales) or nine months (Scotland) before you can go on the Assessment Day. This does not prevent you from submitting your application form several months earlier, and this is encouraged by the Candidates Department at HQ (where I work as a volunteer). Potential Parliamentary candidates are also recommended to avail themselves of training sessions at Federal Conference (I do not know if the Scottish and Welsh State Parties also have PPC training at their conferences).

  • Morgan-Ross Inwood 6th Oct '17 - 5:10pm

    The Approvals process is one thing and the Selection process to become a PPC once approved is another. There should be more done even before someone emails the Candidates Office. The point I am I am trying to make is about encouraging and supporting potential background even those from ALL disadvantaged backgrounds.

    I say this as someone who wants to go through Approvals and have the forms but I feel let down as I have asked for support and hardly any response to my requests.

  • Laurence Cox 6th Oct '17 - 6:03pm

    @Morgan-Ross Inwood
    I may be able to help you, but I only go into HQ once a week on Wednesdays and I do not have access to the files when not in HQ. Can you send an email marked for my attention to the Candidates Department, describing what support you need.

    I should add a point of clarification to what Mark has written about Parliamentary candidate selection. At present, we are trying to cover the eventuality of another General Election within the next 12 months in which, wherever possible, the same candidates who stood in 2017 will stand again. The Regional Candidates Chairs have the responsibility to ensure that there is a named candidate in each constituency. Looking further ahead, a General Election in 2022 would be on new boundaries (if the Commons accept the Boundary Commission’s final proposals) so there are likely to be further selections once the new boundaries are known next year.

  • Tony Greaves 6th Oct '17 - 7:46pm

    Some people might read between the lines here and wonder if the party’s processes for approving and selecting candidates are completely fit for purpose. But since it’s all down to the English Party, don’t expect much effort to improve them any time soon (experience suggests that when they think they are doing this they just make things worse).

  • David Warren 7th Oct '17 - 9:57am

    I have this dream where I contest a Labour held seat and as a former blue collar worker take on the incumbent who has probably never got his hands dirty.

    The other part of the dream is that the Liberal Democrats fight the election on a policy platform that captures the imagination of the majority of voters.

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