I am, for my sins, Chair of the County Approval Panel for 2013, a role which entails organising interviews for potential county candidates, making sure that they take place, and maintaining a list of approved candidates, as required by English Party rules. This isn't a particularly difficult task, in that I have plenty of experience of it and, as an ex-HR person (I got better), and a Parliamentary Candidate Assessor since 1995, I do understand how such a process should work.
Today was set aside to interviews for a collection of candidates who will remain nameless, partly to protect the innocent, but because I hardly want our opponents to know what we're up to.
Traditionally, if you were willing to have your name on a ballot paper, and didn't have two heads, you could be a county council candidate. Alright, I exaggerate, but not by much. Now, in a more professional era, candidates are expected to understand a bit about campaigning theory, as well as some practical experience, and they are expected to work as part of a team, both within their Division and across the county.
It is also useful to ascertain an individual's skill set, so that the array of training packages that now exist can be brought to them, or members of their team, to enhance and support their efforts.
As a result, the process is a more formal one - unsuccessful applicants have the right to appeal, as is right and proper - and a consistent approach is taken. That requires a process person and, given my lack of desire to fight a meaningful county campaign myself in 2013 (new job, lots of uncertainty), I'm eminently qualified to manage the process. The downside is that I'm not great at paperwork, my time management skills are suspect, to put it mildly, and I've allowed my in-tray to get rather full.
And so, I have spent the weekend clearing down my e-mail, dealing with my physical in-tray, so that there is no chance of my having missed anything. This has had some definite positives, in that I have brought the constituency accounts up to date, dealt with all the outstanding bills, and generally feel rather more in control of the bureaucracy than I have for some time.
Today's applicants? They were fine...