Friday, 1 May 2009

Finding candidates

Last night, representatives from many local Lib Dem constituency parties across the region went to Newcastle Civic Centre for a seminar about finding local council candidates. This is an initiative from the Government which is funding programmes like this in all the mainstream political parties. ALDC are enabling this within our party.

The intention is to broaden the base of people willing to become candidates, and in particular to get more women, ethnic minorities and younger working people - in fact, anyone who isn't like me and the majority of people present last night: a 50 to 70 year old white male. We were forced to challenge our own assumptions and the way in which we recruit and approve of candidates for local government and to realise that these people generally don't just step forward, they have to be found, courted and asked, and then asked again several times, before they'll say yes.

The Leader and Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council, two of the most powerful Liberal Democrats in the country, played a full part in the seminar, which shows how seriously our party is taking this agenda.

1 comment:

ianh said...

You are quite right in attempting to broaden the profile of candidates for local and indeed all levels of politics.
As well, as women and ethnic minorities, you point to the need for younger working people.
This struck a cord as it is quite apparent that there are those who would like to serve their communities, but the very set-up of local councils make this impossible.
In simple terms, just how can anyone in full time employment (especially in the private sector) reasonably ask their employers for the sort of time off required to fulfill their responsibilities as a cllr?
I am aware that you are self-employed, which at least allows you some degree of flexibility in your hrs. But most are not self employed which must make life very difficult for those few cllrs in dbc who are in full time private sector employment. (Especially when certain Darlingtoncouncillors are so quick to pounce on what they perceive to be a lack of attendance at particular meetings.)

Therefore the demographic of cllrs will continue to be largely elderly (those with time on their hands), self employed (relatively few) or those interested principally in furthering their political careers, (on the euro gravy train for instance.....)

As long as so much council business is carried out during "office" hrs, any attmepts at attracting younger working people will be largely futile.