Your LDV guide to the new Parliamentary selection rules

There has, for some time, been genuine concern about the way that the Liberal Democrats select their Parliamentary candidates. How they are approved, how the process whereby candidates are selected has become more and more out of touch with modern campaigning methods, let alone questions of diversity, all of these have come under attack in recent years.

In fairness, those concerns have been reflected within the English Candidates Committee and action has been taken to remedy some of the most obvious problems. Before the last General Election, a new approval system was launched, designed to reflect the need to test those core skills required for success as a Parliamentary candidate, which simplified and truncated a rather daunting application form and removed the rather old-fashioned view that delivery of millions of leaflets and membership of a series of committees was a necessary qualification to be attained. And now, the second element of their efforts is about to be presented to English Council for ratification at its meeting on 3 July in London.

The proposed Rules having been distributed to members of English Council, so here are some of the highlights:

  • There is a new twintrack approach, with a streamlined process available to non-priority seats.
  • Non-priority seats will be able to proceed with just one applicant, so long as the process was demonstrably fair and open.
  • The restrictions on campaigning techniques have been removed for the most part, so the use of electronic and social media is now allowed.
  • Only explicit, written endorsements are banned, thus removing the often vexed debate about photographs
  • The nature of hustings meetings has been relaxed, with the only requirement being that candidates should be able to meet members, speak and answer questions. This may well allow Returning Officers to experiment with new formats for such meetings.

    Best of all, the new Rules run to just eighteen pages, a dramatic improvement on the current version which, in the words of one prominent Liberal Democrat, “requires the skills of a paralegal to negotiate”.

    Given the persistent shortage of Returning Officers, which resulted in a number of delayed selections in the last Parliament, it is to be hoped that with a pared down process, the burden upon those who volunteer to organise selections will be lessened.

    Once ratification has taken place, I’ll report back on the debate and on any changes that are required.

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    This entry was posted in Party policy and internal matters.
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    6 Comments

    • Does the new system include a kind of approval panel to look into `skeletons in the cupboard` – as there are for local cllrs?

    • Throw the whole set of rules out and introduce primaries.

      And dont allow anyone to select until we know what form of electoral system (and boundaries) the next election will be held with.

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