Monday, 16 June 2014

Open and democratic selections produce surprising outcomes!

Louise Brice joins Maidstone & The Weald Association Chairman, John Wilson and the team
to launch the Staplehurst By Election campaign on Saturday
 "What a lovely village, not sure I've been here before", said Jon Botten as we drove around Staplehurst earlier this week. "You'll know every inch of it by 24 July", was my reply!

I will blog about the campaign in due course, but I really wanted to say a few words about the candidate selection.

When the vacancy was announced there were the usual concerns about finding a candidate. With the consent of the Association Chairman, I wrote to everyone in Staplehurst who had any connection with the Party (members, donors, activists, poster sites etc) inviting them to get in touch if they wished to be considered. In total, six people made contact. From these six, two withdrew when they heard how much work would be involved, and four asked to be sent application forms and three of these applied and were interviewed by the Local Government Committee.  Of these three applicants only one was previously known to us as a candidate, the other two were just waiting to be asked. This goes to show that when we open-up the process we find new people.

All three would have made outstanding candidates and ward councillors, and I know the Local Government Committee had a difficult job choosing between three strong candidates. In the end, Louise Brice was selected. She was outstanding during the interview and is also proving herself to be an excellent communicator.

I have blogged many times about opening-up the process and attracting new people and this is another example of the results we can achieve when we do so.

What amuses me, however, are the howls from some of the 'old guard' when these new, open procedures are implemented. One former councillor, who lives in the neighbouring constituency, emailed (cc'd to every Conservative in his address book, why must they cc / reply to all) to demand to know who made the selection and why the seat wasn't offered to him!   Interestingly when I had taken over managing this Association's membership I noticed this particular member had "forgotten" to pay his subscription for three consecutive years. Amazing how he believes he is entitled to be a candidate but thinks paying his membership fees is an optional extra. What a dreadful sense of entitlement.

Anyway, onward and upward - we have a great candidate and are raring to go.

Good luck to Louise Brice, and if you can spare an evening on the campaign trail in the lovely Weald countryside, please let me know - email

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