I have, I acknowledge, talked a good game on improving support for PPC's, especially those in less attractive, i.e. non-winnable, seats. I've talked about the importance of mentoring, of the mistakes we make by selecting a PPC and then letting them get on with it. However, without action, it's all just talk.
And so, when English Candidates Committee proposed the creation of a Training and Development Working Group, I looked around the room to see who would volunteer. It became painfully apparent that, given how many of my colleagues would be up to their necks in campaigns elsewhere, I was honour bound to put my money where my mouth is, and volunteer my services. So I did, and now serve on a group that consists of Dawn Davidson, former Chair of both the English Party and the English Candidates Committee, Margaret Joachim, London's Regional Candidates Chair and a former PPC, Martin Turner, Chair of our beloved Parliamentary Candidates Association, and myself.
It could be argued that the creation of another working group only serves to blur the various initiatives springing up. We now have a Training Advisory Board, chaired by Marcus Evans, as proposed by the Bones Commission, which is tasked with finding ways of improving and developing those skills required in modern campaigning and policy development. We have the Campaign for Gender Balance, whose work on mentoring and training has been commented on favourably in the past. We also have the Campaigns Department and ALDC, whose training sessions add much value to our campaigning.
So I see our role as being to tie up the loose ends, identify those gaps which particularly impact on PPC's, and to recommend what additional training and support might be required, and how it might best be delivered. We've got our first meeting soon, so I'll let you know how it's going...