How to Become a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate

Guest Blog from Conservative Party Candidate, Katie Redmond

For political parties, the 2015 General Election is just around the
corner and the time has come to rally the troops, count the campaign
teams and pick the prospective candidates. The Conservative Party has
identified a battleground of 40 target seats to win in 2015, most of
which, unsurprisingly, will target the Lib Dems. Our future Tory MPs
will be spending the next few months getting selected to stand in
their constituencies, so who are they and how does it all work?

The journey from licking the envelope on your Conservative Party
membership form to unfolding a ballot paper with your name printed on
it can seem a rather dark and mysterious one. As a recently approved
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, allow me to shed some light on
how it’s done.

Firstly you need to be a paid-up member of the Conservative Party,
which costs a mere £25 per year and is worth it for the social scene
alone, we can talk politics later… So, once your form lands on the
desk at Conservative HQ, your membership card will be posted out to
you and your local association secretary will be thrilled with the
news that they have themselves a new member. Conservative Associations
are local branches of the Conservative Party, which run the grassroots
campaigns and fundraising events. They also have the power to select
the constituency’s parliamentary candidate.

As a Party member, you will be invited to participate in a calendar of
local events, from social to political. The old adage is true, here,
that you get out what you put in, for enjoyment and satisfaction of
belonging to a political party. You will also find that as a member of
the Conservatives, you will find more likeminded people across the
country than on match.com.

So, you’ve been to cheese and wine at the Councillor’s Christmas
nibbles, got your fingers nipped by a yappy dog while leafletting at
the letterbox, and knocked on more doors than your Avon lady – you’re
ready to start thinking about serving your people and standing for
election.

To run for election, either for a local council, or a parliamentary
seat, the first step is to apply to go on the list of approved
candidates. Competition for places on the list for local council will
vary wildly by constituency depending on how winnable the seats are,
whereas competition for the parliamentary list is consistently fierce.

Applying to the parliamentary candidates list is a multi-stage
process, beginning with an initial inquiry to the candidates
department at Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), sending a CV
and covering letter. You may then be invited for an informal interview
to decide if it is worth putting in a full application. If the
candidates’ team see your potential, they will send you a copy of the
application form, which consists of various questions relating to work
experience, political involvement and service to the community. Three
referees need to be nominated, at least one of which must be your
local association chairman or senior party official.

Once you send off the application to CCHQ, the candidates department
review your responses to decide whether to invite you for a formal
assessment called the Parliamentary Assessment Board (PAB). This is a
day long assessment of essay writing, public speaking, group
discussion and case work exercises. The Party, particularly the
Conservative Women’s Organisation run some fantastic training courses
to prepare you for the PAB.

If you are lucky enough to be invited to a PAB, you will spend a day
with around 6 or 7 other applicants at a hotel or conference centre,
where you will be assessed by a panel of senior party officials and
MPs. After the nail-biting couple of weeks, when the acceptance letter
arrives, you will now be free to contact local associations in
constituencies of your choice, expressing an interest in standing for
election.

Conservative associations put together shortlists of candidates for
selection and invite you for a selection interview, where an audience
of party members may vote on their preferred candidate. You will
answer questions on your past experiences, political views and your
local knowledge of the area, along with others on the shortlist – once
you have been selected as the winning candidate, you can enter the
election and break out the campaign boards!

Katie’s Blog can be found at

http://katieredmond.com/

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