As you may be aware a number of our target constituencies are selecting candidates at the moment. Like others on the Conservative party’s priority list (A list) I have been applying to and in some cases being interviewed for a number of these.
I haven’t written about this process much because it is not the most interesting read, but I don’t want to seem as if I am trying to hide my search for a constituency either.
The process of matching candidates to constituencies is a big issue for any political party. For the local association it can sometimes be the biggest decision that it can make for decades, for the candidate it can mean the difference between becoming an MP or not becoming an MP.
I have applied for seats which are in areas I know and/or where I have some strong connections. This basically means London and the South East, for the record I have applied for about ten seats, some of which delayed their interview process. I have had interviews in five seats and got through to the final rounds of three. The interviews were at East Harrow and Witham and the final rounds I got to were Battersea, Dartford and Brighton Kemptown.
Some candidates apply for dozens of seats, some apply for only a few. Giving yourself a fighting chance of getting selected usually means a number of visits to the constituency, talking to local residents, local papers, hours of research on the Internet etc. This takes up a lot of time if you do it thoroughly, I don’t think that it is possible to do this with more than three or four seats at once.
As I said when commenting on Ali’s blog, getting a seat is a long and drawn out process. As a candidate you have to look seriously at moving your family, relocating schools, possibly changing job, spending a lot of your time and money on fighting a campaign where there are still no guarantees. Of the constituencies that I have had interviews for three have chosen local candidates and two have chosen A listers.
Is finding a seat frustrating? Yes. Do I think that the system is flawed? Probably. Do I believe that I have been unfairly treated, or that I am being discriminated against by local associations or the party? No.