Lib Dem Reading West PPC steps down

by Stephen Tall on August 26, 2009

From the GetReading website comes news that Patrick Murray, the party’s Parliamentary candidate in Reading West – and occasional contributor to Lib Dem Voice – has decided not to contest the seat at the forthcoming general election:

Mr Murray, 27, has announced his decision not to stand at the General Election. He said the decision of the sitting MP Martin Salter to stand down had made him realise he would not have the time to fight the seat.

When asked whether he was ever a serious candidate, he said: “I was a serious candidate and while I was carrying out my post graduate studies and working as a councillor in Oxford, campaigning in Reading West was just about manageable.

“But now I have got to find a full-time job, realistically I realised that something had got to give and I decided with regret that it would have to be my role as a candidate.”

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Another reminder that the vast majority of politicians are volunteers, depite what the general public think. PPCs have a hard time because to do the job justice you have to put in full time hours, often on top of some other job you are doing full time. I think we have to respect the decision he has made.

by Geoffrey Payne on August 26, 2009 at 10:14 pm. Reply #

In plain English,he’s realised that standing for Reading West is a lost cause and a complete waste of time.

by john zims on August 26, 2009 at 10:57 pm. Reply #

John Zims – I doubt Patrick’s estimation of the seat’s winnability has changed, just his circumstances.

It suggests there’s something wrong with our expectations of PPCs that he doesn’t feel he can continue. We are in danger of independent wealth being the prime determination of who is a candidate for parliament (across all parties).

by Richard Huzzey on August 26, 2009 at 11:26 pm. Reply #

This happens in all parties, I’m sure Patrick would of made a good MP for Reading unfortunately having a life outside of politics and running for MP are becoming increasingly incompatible. He is not the first to resign for those reasons and sadly wont be the last.

by Lloyd on August 26, 2009 at 11:50 pm. Reply #

Selection committees should perhaps look in more detail at the current and possible future circumstances of candidates to avoid PPCs jumping ship like this….

by felix holt on August 27, 2009 at 12:06 am. Reply #

Felix – But doesn’t that mean that being a PPC will be restricted more and more to people of independent wealth, and older people whose jobs are less likely to require geographical relocation?

by Richard Huzzey on August 27, 2009 at 12:19 am. Reply #

“Selection committees should perhaps look in more detail at the current and possible future circumstances of candidates to avoid PPCs jumping ship like this….”

And how are they supposed to see 3-4 years into the future?

by Hywel on August 27, 2009 at 8:36 am. Reply #

It is good to see that Stephen Tall has publicised this one, as the tendency is to keep these events “close to the chest” of the PPC and the constituency concerned. Not only is the PPC normally a volunteer, like others in the local party, but expectations often seem artificially high, on all sides. Lloyd is right that others have done the same – and this is the case across other parties also. I think we would be wrong to draw the conclusion that it is always a negative thing, and that we should cling on to PPCs for dear life (and I speak having been one myself!) Comments about selection panels etc are usually not especially “on the button”, as most lists of applicants for seats are very short! I think you need to look at the perceived political / electoral situation (as conveniently outlined in the LDV poll today!), the length of this Parliament – people simply can’t “hang on” this long! – and the number of things which can go wrong / be perceived to go wrong over 4 or more years. Most of the other comments made here are sadly, only too true.

by Tim13 on August 27, 2009 at 8:52 am. Reply #

In plain English, he’s realised that standing for Reading West is a lost cause and a complete waste of time.

No, it is not a complete waste of time to stand candidates in constituencies where our chances of winning are small. People expect there to be a candidate from all the major parties, and the overall national party vote is a significant figure. There are many places is the country where our party has an MP or runs the council where not long ago it would have been said it was a complete waste of time bothering to fight election. Our party has been kept alive by people who did not think it a complete waste of time to organise campaigns for and fight elections they did not expect to win.

The point, however, is that if being a PPC is supposed to involve huge amounts of work for a prolonged period of time, it’s something which anyone who has a career or family will find difficult to take up. Our party has depended for its survival and growth on people who, for various reasons, have been able to devote enormous amounts of time and energy to it. In many cases where our party is now strong I can name the person or people who did that. Sometimes it’s actually a behind-the-scenes organiser who hasn’t gained any sort of power or fame for it. Sometimes it’s someone who took it so far, then was exhausted or couldn’t drop family/work commitments to take up the opportunities s/he had created by growing the party and had to hand over to the ones who got the power and fame. These people should be applauded and too often they are not. The national image of politics is about fat cat MPs who are in it to make money. Why can’t our party create an image which tells the truth about how it works on the ground?

We should not necessarily suppose the PPC should be the on-the-ground organiser, sometimes s/he is, but sometimes we have too much of an expectation that whoever is picked will do that.

Another point which may be an issue here is that general elections tend to come every four years, the five year wait indicates a party which is hanging on because it knows it’s going to lose. When Patrick Murray writes “Now I have a full time job” it seems to me his expectation was probably to fight the election in 2009 and then get on with his career, he hadn’t expected to be spending another year doing the PPC thing. There are probably many people who’d be happy to put other things on hold to be a PPC for a short time, but cannot commit to an indefinite period which may be several years.

by Matthew Huntbach on August 27, 2009 at 9:21 am. Reply #

You are so right, Matthew!

by Tim13 on August 27, 2009 at 10:30 am. Reply #

“if being a PPC is supposed to involve huge amounts of work for a prolonged period of time”

I described being a PPC as running a marathon every week, throwing £10 notes over your shoulder as you run….

People’s situations change (not just for PPCs – at least two MPs have stood down close to elections in recent years) and I don’t think you can create a system that will be able to deal with that.

by Hywel on August 27, 2009 at 10:45 am. Reply #

More on this here from August 20th, with Labour using LD ‘two horse race’ rhetoric.

by Politico on August 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm. Reply #

The sad thing is that the Conservatives can now offer many people a full time job in the next Parliament. David Cameron can now happily advertise for ambitious young men or women, who sympathies are vaguely Conservative, to be MPs starting 2010. Some are receiving adequate financial support as Portfolio Holders on their Local Council and via generous support from rich Tory donors.

by Roger Shade on August 27, 2009 at 3:51 pm. Reply #

Politico – it is unsurprising that Labour are using that line in Reading West. They have more sense than to bother in Reading East where they have totally collapsed and know it is Gareth Epps breathing down the Tories’ neck.

by Daniel Bowen on August 27, 2009 at 5:55 pm. Reply #

Good of The Voice to air this topic. At St. Albans tonight, Nick took the floor and fieled a vast variety of questions for over an hour to a hall packed to the gunnals with around 500 people. One of the very few questions to catch him unawares (and the way he handles these Any Questions sessions has to be seen in person – here Nick is at his very, very best), was a question from a young lady who said she wanted to enter politics, was a Liberal Democrat member, and wanted to be a PPC at the next election. Good, you might think, so far, and no doubt Nick was wondering where this was going…then came the question, (and clearly the girl is eleoquent and confident), “I cant get there because there is a ruling that you have to be a paid-up member for 12 months before you can be considered for an interview and go forward into the process…cant the process accept people like me, and once the 12 months are up, we are then ready to apply for a vacancy?” Sounds a reasonable question. Nick asked her to send an email and moved on, but you cant help wonder why there is not a greater degree of flexibility…after all, potential candidates wanting to give this their all dont grow on trees.

by Philip Young on August 27, 2009 at 11:14 pm. Reply #

I agree with the last point. A couple of years ago Simon Hughes said we should advertise more widely for candidates in women’s mags, on websites etc. Presumably if these non-members had been accepted they would need to be fast-tracked. We need a wider variety of talented candidates NOW, not keep them hanging around for 12 months.

by Biodiesel on August 28, 2009 at 10:13 am. Reply #

Was Nick asked about Paul Rowen’s Stygian Stables on Drake Street, Rochdale when he was pontificating about other parties and allowances issues? And does any Lib Dem across the country recognise any of the issues I raise being relevant to their own Lib Dem MP? It’s almost as though these near-the-knuckle, shall we say “grey area”, interpretations of what’s “within the rules” are being handed down from the top of the Lib Dem party.

It really is a case of the Labours of Hercules if Nick is to clean up the Lib Dem act expenses and donations wise before throwing stones at other parties. Wasn’t he once stoned in a glass house himself? Drunk anyway?

by Chris paul on August 28, 2009 at 10:29 am. Reply #

On the subject of people in glass houses Chris P, I’m sure you produce equally long and, er, “detailed” posts about certain Labour MPs?

by Grammar Police on August 28, 2009 at 10:48 am. Reply #

I sympathise with Patrick Murray. He has sorted out his priorities. And I imagine he wonders, as I do, what is the point of the Liberal Democratic Party these days. I fought Newbury, which used to include part of what is now Reading West, in the 1970s while a “mature” undergraduate at Oxford. I fought on the basis of wanting to achieve a far fairer country, with greater equality of opportunity in education, health and the inheritance of wealth, but without natonalisation – in fact with the privatisation of all activities other than those, such as defence, fire service, policing, education and health, which either cannot be or ought not to be rationed by price.

I could not support the Liberal Democrats these days because, while I would still like to achieve all that, I would also like to help the UK to leave full membership of the EU, the CAP and the CFP. I would vote for UKIP, except that they have the disgraceful policy of abolishing Inheritance Tax. If an ever more unequal independent UK is their aim, count me out. But they are right about leaving the EU. That is where the protest vote, that the Liberal Party used to rely upon in the past, is today. But the LIberal Democrats are nowadays on the side of the bureaucratic, undemocratic EU establishment . They would have joined the Euro! What a disaster that would have been in the present recession! They have gone back on their word on a referendum on the Constitution for Europe. That makes me feel sick at heart for my old party of honesty.

The Green Party seems to know what it wants to achieve. They are not EU-fanatic like the Liberal Democrats and have a progressive policy on the taxation of gifted and inherited capital. At least a vote for them is not a vote for turning our country into a collection of regions in a country called Europe.

Let us hope the Liberal Democrats are wiped out at the next General Election and then re-thnk their integrity on the question of a referencum, without pretending they can get themselves off the hook by calling for a referendum on membership rather than on the Lisbon Treaty. Yuk!

by Dane Clouston on September 1, 2009 at 10:34 pm. Reply #

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