The PPC Files (3): What do your family and friends think about your decision to run for Parliament?

by Stephen Tall on July 30, 2008

Imagine what it’s like to be a Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate – tasked with leading and motivating a group of diverse volunteers against all the odds, and organising foot-slogging campaigns on a shoe-string budget that will get you and the party noticed.

Lib Dem Voice contacted a dozen PPCs to find out what they really think about the experience. We guaranteed anonymity to ensure those responding felt able to say what they think, and not simply stick to the obligatory it’s-such-a-privilege line. Of the 12, seven are men and five women, and they include one ethnic minority candidate. The constituencies they hope to represent range from the south to the north, and include Lib Dem marginals and ‘no hope’ seats.

In today’s third instalment of The PPC Files, our ‘golden dozen’ tell us what their family and friends think of their decision to run for Parliament:

Delighted when my children were able to Google my name and proud to tell their friends their mum has been in the paper or TV.
Well done! is the comment from all professional colleagues.

Well… when I first told my Dad, there was this long silence on the other end of the phone, after which he said “I’ve never really thought much of politicians.” Has come down and campaigned for me in each general election, however. The rest of my family have thought it really interesting. My friends think it’s odd and don’t really understand the commitments and efforts involved.

Most of my friends understand the pressures and what I am trying to do, but sometimes it feels like my family think it’s some quaint little hobby that has got totally out of control.

They think it’s crazy – they don’t understand it.

They are very supportive, although it is a strain on family life. I work full-time and am also out 3-5 nights a week and spend some of every Saturday and Sunday doing Lib Dem/campaign related activity. My employer is very supportive (I work flexible hours and work five days in four so that I have one day on the campaign) but it is a tough schedule. The consequence of this is that I work, campaign and spend time with my family….that’s it. I have no social life outside of this, I’ve stopped playing football, going to the cinema, going for drinks after work, visiting friends around the country. I’m NOT complaining because it is my choice, but if you want to win then this is the way it has to be.

Very supportive. I would not have gone for it if they felt otherwise.

I have been politically active for a long time – around 20 years (and I’m only 35 so still perceived as being young by some!) – but I think it is fair that most of my family still think I should get a proper job, even though I have one. My friends are pretty supportive, even when they are politically disinterested.

I can only do this because of the 100% support of my family and friends. They all think I’m mad, but continue to support me….

My family and friends are impressed by my commitment, but frequently can’t see the sense in making it.

Most found it eccentric to some degree or other at first, although support from my immediate family has been unstinting. It’s interesting that over the years, it’s come to be accepted as part of what I am: although it’s also interesting that even quite close friends/family members (e.g. my mother!) occasionally assume that, as a politician, I’m fair game for a bit of a scolding when politicians in general are perceived to be letting the side down.

Some are very supportive; others in my extended family do not share the same politics and tend to be more right wing – they do not believe woman should be in politics or even in the work place.

In part 4 of The PPC Files (tomorrow): What’s different about being a Lib Dem PPC compared to being a Labour/Tory PPC?

The PPC Files (1): What are the three worst things about being a Lib Dem PPC?
The PPC Files (2): What do you wish you’d known before you became a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate?