by Stephen Tall on August 2, 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 sixth and final instalment of The PPC Files, our ‘golden dozen’ tell us the three best things about being a Lib Dem PPC:
Its become a way of life – addictive wouldn’t be the same without the role now!! and seeing it to its ultimate achievement.
Being able to represent the Lib Dems as my party of choice (and I of it) and to represent the constituency I have lived in all my life.
Recognition for the party’s equality processes as its representative a – Muslim / female.
i) You are part of the solution;
ii) publicly standing up for your beliefs, especially when they’re not ‘populist’ – it often makes me swell with pride and happiness at hustings meetings (does that make me sound odd?); and
iii) the respect you receive from your local community and the public – they often want to shake your hand even if they’re not voting for you!
(and iv) campaigning is great fun)
Meeting the real local champions – the people who work day-in and day-out in the community helping others. Someone once said “the journey is the thing”, so true.
Getting the chance to shape and drive the local party’s activities and priorities.
Feeling like you are contributing something – even if, from time to time, you have to think hard about what it is!
You really feel that you are working towards something you believe in rather than just sitting around pontificating at the TV during Question Time; you get to do things you might never have done otherwise, like being interviewed for the Today programme, for example; you get to meet some great people and influence party policy and debate
Being able to make a small difference for local people. Being one step closer to Parliament (where you can have a far greater impact). Being able to work with the Council group on key issues for my area.
1. Having the best possible excuse for knocking on people’s doors and talking to them about current political issues – doorstepping is the bit of politics I enjoy most.
2. The support and hard work of the loyal members who understand that every little thing they themselves do for the party can make a difference.
3. The help provided by some individuals in the party hierarchy, who play as members of the constituency team.
Making a difference in my own community . I want to win, of course, but more than anything I want to make my home town a better place. Even as an opposition candidate you can get things done and change policies for the better. It is the antidote to the political cynicism: one person can listen, act and make a difference.
Working with a team – and leading it . There are not many jobs in the world where you get to work with a huge range of people with all kinds of talents all committed to the same cause. From jumble sales to surveys to platform speeches, the variety of issues and work is breathtaking and incredibly exciting and motivating. No two days are ever the same.
Its all about ideas. For me, politics is a battle of ideas. Debate, discussion, difference of opinion are all healthy things that should be encouraged. I am proud to be a member of a party that encourages debate, discussion and even dissent. I am proud that we have some of the best, most innovative ideas. Having the opportunity to represent those ideas and encourage new ones is just the best thing a political person can do.
1) The casework – even as a ppc you can get things done for people
2) Working with a fantastic team locally and nationally
3) Promoting the party and its policies, and showing how Liberal Democrats can make a difference to our communities
1) Being the target of a criminal hate campaign, which is attempting to demonise me and my colleagues, and trying to (but failing!) dispirit us
2) Trying to run a job, and be a ppc alongside each other. Unlike the local MP who has staff, often the routine tasks have to carried out by the ppc. You’ve got to have very high energy levels to be a ppc.
3) Despite trying to protect family time, failing (because being a ppc is a 24/7 job).
Being an active player in politics, instead of an arm chair observer.
Seeing the difference you can make for people through taking on casework.
Knowing that with enough effort you can buck the national swing in a way that other parties’ candidates can’t.
The opportunity to meet people (in constituency and beyond: federal conference is always stimulating); the sense of being ‘in the loop’ politically (e.g. being among the first to hear when the ‘election-that-wasn’t’ was called off); the extension of one’s range of small-talk (people can almost be guaranteed to find a Lib Dem PPC a bizarre career decision…).
You get to meet so many different people in the community and in the party
You can make a change even though you are not elected
You could be elected
My thanks to all 12 of the PPCs who spared their time to tell it as it is!
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?
The PPC Files (3): What do your family and friends think about your decision to run for Parliament?
The PPC Files (4): What’s different about being a Lib Dem PPC compared to being a Labour/Tory PPC?
The PPC Files (5): How has becoming a PPC affected your career?