Sunday, January 07, 2007

Why the Lib Dems should be careful how they choose their candidates

Back in July 2005 the Guardian reported that Simon Hughes had suggested that:

advertise for would-be MPs in newspapers, women's magazines and on the radio, their president urged yesterday.

Even non-members could apply to stand as a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate under plans introduced by Simon Hughes.

I was less than complimentary about the idea at the time:

If he means a party needs philosophers, economists and novelists as well as activists, he is right. But our opponents would hang a crass idea like advertising for candidates round our necks for years afterwards.

Simon should take his shrimping net off to Herne Bay for a week or two and return refreshed for the fight.
A few days ago Iain Dale discovered an old article from Liberator that said:
Even more startlingly, the PCA believes “in the longer term … there is a case for ‘headhunting’ of suitable candidates within and outside the party, e.g. among students at universities and colleges.” Yes, you read that right. The body that represents the party’s parliamentary candidates believes that people who do not belong to the party should be approached to stand as candidates for it in general elections.
There are always those who are attracted to such gimmicks. Let this story serve as an awful warning to them.

3 comments:

James said...

We already have a mechanism for headhunting potential candidates at university: it's called LDYS and many of our best candidates have come from it.

It should be pointed out though that Simon Hughes has presided over a 45% cut in LDYS' grant. Given recent history, that may have been a politically easy thing to do, but I suspect we'll pay for it in the longer term.

Bernard said...

James, maybe in your day things were better but although many good candidates have been in LDYS I doubt that they have become good candidates because of LDYS.

I always found national LDYS far too interested in internal party games to be of much use in actually recruiting and training the MPs, Councillors and activists of tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

45% cut in LDYS grant. But they still have one. Unlike I hear Women liberal democrats? And does anyone know what Ethnic Minority Liberal democrats have this year? I think the grand total is a grant of zilcho from the party this year.

It's interesting isn't it that Simon and the boys (and they are mostly boys) at party HQ are SOOOOOOO committed to diversity. Yet they won't allow two small autonomous groups to have their woefully inadequate budgets continued. They use pathetic excuses such as the money can be better used elsewhere. By going to favoured candidates and perhaps being used to bribe locally parties into a quick fix rather than training and laying good solid long term foundations.

That's right. By white middle-aged men, who are emotionally illiterate to say the least, and who believe that neither WLD nor EMLD are capable of handling their own money. Whose commitment to diversity needs questioning exactly?