Friday, 14 February 2014

A Light-Hearted Observation of the PPC Assessment Process

Hmmmm.. or is it all that light-hearted...? As a management-type I cannot but be boggled by the outdated and outmoded PPC assessment process that the party uses.. 

The process clearly throws up some interesting candidates and we have (and have had) some very "original" MPs (Clement Freud, Ludovic Kennedy). However the antiquated nature of the process speaks to another age. 

It goes to explain a lot about what happened in 2010. It clearly is designed to have councillors jump through some familiar hoops to produce Über-councillors for the national stage. The fact that this process does NOTHING to line up potential ministerial talent goes a lot towards explaining the current crew we have as part of the Coalition team. 

I left with the feeling that at least one of these famous Liberals, would not have passed for he was "lacking resilience". 

So what of the process.... hmmm... well, the process is the hands of veterans of the party. They come freighted with years of moving and shaking in the corridors of local government, and seemingly not much to do with the modern world of politics and particularly not management. They reminded us of, dare I say it, babushkas, those gate-keepers of all that was good and virtuous about the Soviet Union (yes, I was being ironic).

Not since I left university in 1981 have I had to do so much hand-writing in one go. Too bad if you suffer from writer's cramp, if not writer's block...It was more than just the computer age not having dawned, it was that the multiple choice question had not yet surfaced as an innovation in party headquarters.. oh, despair...

These, of course, had to be marked and that clearly doesn't put the babushkas in a good mood. 

But then onto the group exercise... despite the fact that we are looking for politicians here that shall decide policy on Trident, discuss bombing Syria, agonise over smoking in cars and hold back or fling open the doors to Eastern Europe's heaving masses, instead we discuss supermarket planning applications, not as a national policy, but as it happens in local government in the rotten borough of Shifty Magna.

Is that a BIS logo is the background? Aha, must be a national issue after all...

And then there was the relations with the media (i.e. TV) section.... despite having appeared on TV around the world and even given interviews in Spanish (for Bloomberg TV) the part was a veritable debacle as one had to justify why (despite us not having the Environment ministry under our control due to ham-fisted Coalition negotiations) that the floods were not our fault... I left with the vision of the interviewers' perfect candidate:

Loquacious, photogenic.... original.... and a councillor in Mould-in-the-Wold..



  1. Very interesting... I can't help but feel that our entire political system would exclude all sorts of great historical figures if they were to try to enter politics today.

    I suppose the obvious question is what you would change, and how? If you could make some positive suggestions - particularly if they wouldn't cost money - they might be quite interested to hear them.

  2. A start would be less less writing.... (and that is spoken as a professional writer).. thousands of words of blather are not likely to be repeated in real life. even a Focus is merely extended soundbites...

    A short stump speech would be a good idea (with a choice of topics)

    Questions to test if one knows policy should be multiple choice with fine distinctions in the answers to make sure candidates actually know policy...

    Policy should be ALL policy... the areas I am interested in (banking, transport, housing and defence) did not even get a mention.... instead climate change and crime (the latter on which we have not had a single initiative success in govt) were amongst the top favoured subjects..

    the media interview was with a "television journalist from Channel 4" which is not really a very likely scenario for a PPC... they are vastly more likely to meet a print journalist on the campaign trail.

    there was ZERO recognition of the existence of social media..

  3. Hmm... I can't say it inspires me to give it a go. All of your suggestions sound sensible to me. Do you know if you got through? When will you hear?

    The one thing I would say about our current system though - which is both a good and a bad thing - is exactly your point: it's been designed to get 'uber-councillors' rather than ministers. Because it's been a while since we've needed ministerial material, and being ministerial hasn't been an asset if you can't get elected, which we've tended view as only possibly by being super-localist.