My guest today ran for the UK parliament in 2019. Spoiler Alert - he didn't get in! That was the year when the UK was devouring itself on the subject of Brexit. Listen to his hilarious account of fighting to become an MP and find out what advice he would give to anyone thinking of doing the same. [WARNING: This episode includes 1 expletive at 06:57]
A big thank you to Edward, we had a scream putting this episode together. It just proves that you can inject humour into politics but keep it serious at the same time.
Links for Edward Morello:
The confirmed results for West Dorset in 2019 UK General Election
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There are many, many, many ways that are quicker, cheaper, and less painful to find out that 40,000 people don't like your face. And I would recommend that you try all of them before you run for parliament.
If you spent much of your life living in a free and open democracy, you'll be accustomed to that regular cycle, say every four or five years, when you are asked to vote. Suddenly we become very important to those candidates standing for power. But who are these parliamentary candidates? Have you ever met one? Why on earth do they do it? Well, to find out, I caught up with one.
I was born in Bristol, grew up for the first 13 years in Bristol and then moved to Buckinghamshire by way of Kent. We were in South Africa for a couple of years, and then I was off to university in Wales, before moving to London and now we live down in, sunny West Dorset. I mean, you know, pretty bog standard family, you know, middle-class family, two brothers. I don't think there's anything particularly distinguishing or even any sort of great momentous occasion in my childhood that would explain the pattern of my life.
But he's such a nice chap, I wanted to know why he thought he would make a good MP.
I think the perception of Westminster and and the House of Commons and what goes on on a daily basis, and obviously most personified by that Wednesday parliamentary, prime ministerial questions, you know, is exactly that: gladiatorial, antagonistic, us versus them approach to politics, which I hate in all of its shape or form. if we want better politics, we have to elect better politicians. Fundamentally our entire political system is broken, or certainly in need of reform, but the only way you can do that is from within the system. It's precisely because I think there's a better way of doing it that I put myself forward to getting to parliament in the hope that you can change it from the inside. There was no point at which I woke up in the morning and decided that I wanted to do it. I was getting increasingly angry at the television and the radio and my wife said, "You should do this. Just go and do this". And yeah my wife had downloaded the forms, but within 45 minutes and put them in front me and said, do it now. So she's entirely to blame.
There then follows a fairly arduous screening program involving assessment days, role play exercises, and being grilled by party officials. If you are lucky enough to pass screening and make it to a short list of say, three to five potential candidates, you then conduct a short campaign within the constituency itself, culminating in hustings, ie. public meetings, where you give speeches, answer questions, and hopefully win the vote.
And you are the PPC, the prospective parliamentary candidate right up until the election is called. And then you are the parliamentary candidate and you run through the election. I'll be honest Steve, it's pretty boring.
And did you have anyone at this point sense-checking your sanity?
The one thing that does happen is suddenly people, everyone goes, "Oh, do you know what? I know somebody who's run for parliament, would you like me to put you in touch?" there's actually quite a lot of people who have historically run for parliament. And the overriding denominator of all of that is that they didn't win. Very few people won. So what you do is you end up meeting lots of people who didn't win. And actually that's not particularly helpful. "My advice is do not talk to anyone who's run for parliament because all they can tell you is how they lost. You need to go into it with blinkers on and run at it at a hundred miles an hour. Like nobody's ever done this before. And you are the first person in thinking of the crazy idea of knocking on people's doors and just go and do it.
So having budgeted to lose a salary for up to six weeks, all that's left to do is to tell the boss that you are a PPC and may need to down tools at a moment's notice. And indeed, on the 29th of October 2019, MPs backed Boris Johnson's call for an election, and Edward was on the battle bus the very next day.
So a big thing, for example, is hustings. Hustings are effectively town hall meetings with all of the candidates and questions. They tend to be organized all around the constituency so that as many people as possible have an opportunity to hear from the candidates in person. But to be honest, most of it is churn. It's just how many doors can you knock on?
Parliamentary candidates rely heavily on the goodwill and hard work of a team; campaign manager, constituency organizer, data officer, and hopefully an army of supporters.
And, it is start at sun-up and end at sundown. People don't tend to like you knocking on the door after the sun's gone down, fair enough. But you start at sunup you end at sundown and you do that solidly every single day, seven days a week for four to six weeks until you can't do it anymore. When you get home, you've invariably got a call with your campaign team, and then you have to sit at your computer and answer the, anywhere between a hundred to 200 emails that you receive.
And I guess you get quite good at rejection?
It is personal, there's no way to get around that. I had somebody who refused to shake my hand. I'm not voting for you lot I'm not even gonna shake your hand. I did have, It was actually a retirement block of flats, and there was, I knocked on the door and this little old lady opened the door a crack and, I'm six foot three, she was probably three foot two. This tiny little old lady opened the door and she said, "Yes, dear"? I said, "Hello I'm Edward, I'm your Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate. "Are you dear?" "Yes, I am". "Well, in that case, you can fuck off"! and slammed the door in my face. And you go, "Okay". I mean, that was definitely personal, "You know, there are many, many, many ways that are quicker, cheaper, and less painful to find out that 40,000 people don't like your face. And I would recommend that you try all of them before you run for parliament.
And presumably for every one of those rejections, you get one that says, "Yes I'm going to vote for you." And you can take that personally as well?
I mean, it's not one-for-one, it would've been a closer, right? It's about five-to-one if I'm on honest, Steve. But yeah, absolutely, you know, it is an ego-boost. There's no two ways about it. That's the, that's the high you're living for, right?
Well I guess five-to-one in sales terms is quite a good return isn't it?
It's great conversion rate, great conversion rate, terrible in politics?
And then what about the costs? As soon as the election is called, the period to Voting Day is known as the "short campaign" and expenditure is capped.
it's about £15,000 that you can spend in the short campaign, which when you think that you've got to reach 80,000 people potentially, that's not a lot per head, right? So you have a very, very small amount to spend. And that literally goes on printing stuff that you're gonna shove through people's doors. West Dorset is 400 square miles of area that you've got a criss-cross in a car, and you're not the only one doing it. Printer paper, you know, everything, it all stacks up. I mean, it is phenomenally expensive.
Presumably you could save money by jumping in a car with your opposition?
Yeah, just pooling resources. We'll deliver your leaflets, you deliver ours. Yeah, absolutely, if only there was more collaboration.
One of the most common sites during an election is that of the stake boards that appear in people's front gardens; vote this, vote that...
And so, you know, there are people constantly driving around the constituency with stake boards, and not just putting them in the ground, but then going back five days later to replace the one that's been nicked by a supporter of the other side. They were constantly being defaced. I had a couple in my garden every morning I had to go and get out of a neighbour's hedge. But we had one where a lady, a very grand house, said, "I want one on my driveway and really piss off the neighbours. I was like, "Okay, fine". So we went up there, we gave her the biggest one we had right by these huge ornate wrought iron gates, right? This huge great sign nailed in. And she rang me up the next day. She said, "I need a new stake board." I said, "Oh no, has yours been nicked?" She said, "No, it's been defaced". I was like, "Oh, people just do this stuff". She goes, "Oh no, it's the conservatives". I said, "Well, we don't know that for sure. She Said, "Oh, we do. They've put their stake board in next to ours. Literally hammered their own one in next to ours and spray-painted over it". I was like, I mean, you know, scene of the crime, you've lost plausible deniability on this one chaps.
Eventually Election Day arrives. It's late in the night, probably, rival candidates are standing on the platform watching the votes being counted, and then waiting for the declaration.
The thing is, you already know the result by the time you're up there. They are literally put into massive bundles on the table. So, you can look at your bundle and you know the answer and if the piles on the two tables look really close, then you may contest it and have a recount. And if it is not, and you look at all of your supporters and sort of all agree that you know it's definitely not gone your way, then, you know, you allow it to go through.
And then the following morning you don't have to get out of bed to bang on doors, it's all over, what are your thoughts then?
It probably, took me longer than I thought it would to process it, so you sort of pootle about and do all of those things that you haven't done and start chucking out stuff you've gotta chuck out and trying to return your front room to something, some semblance of normalcy, rather than looking like a Lib-Dem gift shop. So yeah, it is weird though. You know, you get up, you get up on Monday and you go back to work, right? And start clearing out your inbox of the bazillion emails that you've had in over the last four weeks.
So there you have it. It's complicated. It's hard work. It's expensive. It's nearly broken. Most of us want it, but not many of us are prepared to do much to protect it. I'll leave Edward with the final message.
If we want to have a functioning democracy, if we want to enjoy all of the benefits that come from, from living in a free and open society, then we need people willing to participate in it. We need people who are willing to put themselves forward. That's the, that's the bulwark, that's the defense that we have. So please do not hesitate. Do not think I can't be the person to do it. You are exactly the person that needs to do it.
YouTube extended version
[00:00:00] Edward: There are many, many, many ways that are quicker, cheaper, and less painful to find out that 40,000 people don't like your face. And I would recommend that you try all of them before you run for parliament.
[00:00:13] Steve: If you spent much of your life living in a free and open democracy, you'll be accustomed to that regular cycle, say every four or five years, when you are asked to vote. Suddenly we become very important to those candidates standing for power.
[00:01:09] Steve: The TV will be awash with political debate. Your front door will probably be knocked on a few times, and by the end of it you'll be so worn out that you may not care who wins anyway, as long as it's over.
[00:01:23] Steve: In the UK, the Prime Minister will come out of the front door to 10 Downing Street, stand in front of the podium and announce there will be a general election. Two groups of people will be highly energised by this: the press who will be licking their lips at the feast about to be served up, and the parliamentary candidates who are hoping to get elected.
[00:01:46] Steve: But who are these parliamentary candidates? Have you ever met one? Why on earth do they do it? What do they actually have to do? Well, to find out, I caught up with one.
[00:01:59] Edward: I was born in Bristol, with very much an itinerant family. So, grew up for the first 13 years in Bristol and then moved to Buckinghamshire by way of Kent. We were in South Africa for a couple of years, and then I was off to university in Wales, before moving to London and now we live down in, sunny West Dorset. It does feel like we've moved around a lot but, yeah, I mean, you know, pretty bog standard family, you know, middle-class family, two brothers. I don't think there's anything particularly distinguishing or even any sort of great momentous occasion in my childhood that would explain the pattern of my life.
[00:02:45] (Audio clip to run over the top of Edward's muted voice: This is Edward Morello by the way, from West Dorset in the South West of England. In 2019 he ran for parliament, for the West Dorset constituency actually.. Just prior to the election being called, British politics was devouring itself on the subject of Brexit, whether Britain should leave the European Union or not. Parliament had turned toxic to say the least. )
The hyenas are circling
[00:02:45] Steve: When I watch Parliament on tele, all I see is grown men and women growling and snarling at each other like hyenas around a wounded animal. Now, you're a polite decent chap,
[00:03:03] Edward: ...sometimes
[00:03:05] Steve: what possessed you to think that you could be a good MP?
[00:03:10] Edward: I think the perception of Westminster and and the House of Commons and what goes on on a daily basis, and obviously most personified by that Wednesday parliamentary, prime ministerial questions, you know, is exactly that: gladiatorial, antagonistic, us versus them approach to politics, which I hate in all of its shape or form.
[00:03:36] Edward: It is an awful advert for democracy and I think it creates a tribalism around our party political system that means that everything has to be confrontation, but also there can't be compromise and this idea of working collaboratively for the betterment of society goes out the window in favour of, "We won, we get to do what we want", or, "We shouted loudest, we get to do what we want".
[00:03:59] Edward: You know, as a Liberal Democrat, electoral reform is at the center of what we believe, whether it be abolishing the House of Lords or moving to proportional representation, it, all of those things are designed to, all of those electoral reforms that we seek are designed to create a more collaborative environment where people have to work together, where the desired outcome is compromise and better politics, better policies, and policies that are gonna improve people. And I think unfortunately we've built a system which is the absolute counterpoint to that, that, that actually almost purely, or is fundamentally incapable of allowing those sort of, that compromise, that, that togetherness to work.
[00:04:43] Edward: I think the idea of proportional representation is that you then don't have people with an absolute majority, and they do have to bring in coalition partners and they do have to sort of soften around the edges rather than, you know, as it is right now where we just swing between right and left conservative and labour and they come in and they rip up what the previous government had done and introduce all of their policies rather than actually at any point have found the common ground, the commonality between the two parties to, to come up with policies that everyone can support.
[00:05:12] Edward: So beyond that, there's a more sort of fundamental issue, which is about the politicians that we choose to elect and again, having a political system where winner takes all means you do get parties that are loaded with people who may be ideological purists, who maybe tick the right boxes to wave the right flags for the party, and are deemed to be loyalist or whatever it might be, rather than people who are gonna go and address the ills that are facing us in society, people who are have got a lived experience that is more representative of wider society as well.
[00:05:49] Edward: I do say a lot I think if we want better politics, we have to elect better politicians. You know, there we've got some, some classic examples in the current conservative party, for example, politicians who have kiboshed upskirting law, or sexual harassment laws just because they believe them and they can, they can do that.
[00:06:10] Edward: If that's your lived experience. If you've never experienced sexual harassment, if you don't think upskirting is sexual harassment, you're not gonna see why, you know, tightening laws around that is important. If you have never lived hand to mouth, then the idea of introducing a benefit system with a six-week delay is perfectly okay for you. If you're living hand to mouth, six weeks is not okay. That is literal starvation. So, you know, it's about, fundamentally our entire political system is broken, or certainly in need of reform, but the only way you can do that is from within the system. So, as much as I deplore it, as much as like a lot of people, I look at it and go, "Come on, there's gotta be a better way of doing this". It's precisely because I think there's a better way of doing it that I put myself forward to getting to parliament in the hope that you can change it from the inside.
Electioneering, first things first
[00:06:57] Edward: So, on that morning when you wake up and you decide you're going to run for parliament, what is the first thing you do?
[00:07:09] Edward: Yeah, a really interesting question, Steve. So, first of all, there was no point at which I woke up in the morning and decided that I wanted to do it. I was getting increasingly angry at the television and the radio and my wife said, "You should do this. Just go and do this". A nd I admitted for the first time I gave voice to, to the idea that maybe I would be interested in doing it. And yeah , my wife had downloaded the forms, but within 45 minutes and put them in front me and said, do it now. So she's entirely to blame, which I remind her regularly for the subsequent four years. So, I can't speak to every political party, I can only talk you through the journey that, I had as a Liberal Democrat. So, I was already a party member. You have to be a party member for a certain amount time before you can put yourself forward as a potential parliamentary candidate.
[00:07:58] Edward: The Liberal Democrats have a screening process. I hope all political parties do, although the evidence of perhaps UKIP and Brexit parties in the past their candidates suggest that they don't or it's a very different one. You fill in a form exactly that, saying that I want to do this, and you need some seconders from within the party membership to vouch for you and say that you 're not completely barmy. That's processed by head office. They then invite you along to a assessment day effectively, where you go in and you talk to some counsellors and some party officials and they ask you some questions and interview you.
[00:08:34] Edward: And then they do a couple of, sort of, set piece role play exercises, which you might do on your own or you might do with some other potential candidates. They then score you, judge you and provide those results to the party. The party then says, "Okay". It's a qualified or unqualified, it's a binary, situation. They either say, "Yes, you're okay, you're on the list", or, "No you're not". And then you're added into the pool of what's called 'approved parliamentary candidates', which means that you are then able to apply for the post of being a prospective parliamentary candidate, a PPC for a constituency.
[00:09:13] Edward: Every constituency, and there are 650 in the United Kingdom, will then, at some point during the election cycle, in the sort of however long, four years, five years that we have in the run up to election, will advertise for a candidate and it's on an internal message, and you download the pack that they have put together about that constituency, you fill in laying out your credentials and your suitability, that then goes off to, what is invariably a, an appointed part of that constituency's executive board to deal with screening.
[00:09:50] Edward: They'll create a long list and then possibly a short list, and we'll let you know that you are on the short list. That shortlist could be three, could be five. Some of them are women only. Some are, have a reserved number of places for underrepresented groups. But whatever, they'll create a short list of three to five, and that's then sent to the membership of the local party.
[00:10:14] Edward: So the, all of the Liberal Democrat members within that constituency, we then have a short campaign. It might be a two or three or four-week campaign in which you have an opportunity to go around and talk to the members, send them some marketing material, and it culminates in a hustings where everyone has an opportunity to vote for who they'd like to be the candidate. There's usually speeches and questions. Some people will have sent in postal votes, obviously, and then there's voting on the day and whoever has the most number of votes is then declared to be the prospective parliamentary candidate. And you are the PPC, the prospective parliamentary candidate right up until the election is called. And then you are the parliamentary candidate and you run through the election. I'll be honest Steve, it's pretty boring.
[00:11:00] Steve: And did you have anyone at this point sense-checking your sanity?
[00:11:14] Edward: That's an interesting one. I, I had a lot of people ask me why. I had a massive outpouring of support which was wonderful from friends and family. The one thing that does happen is suddenly people, everyone goes, "Oh, do you know what? I know somebody who's run for parliament, would you like me to put you in touch?" And initially I said yes to all of those and spoke to, spoke to quite a few people. If you think there are 650 constituencies in the United Kingdom, we have an election on a good cycle every four to five years. Obviously we're, we're running a little bit hot at the moment in terms of the frequency. But for each one of those elections, each one of those 650 constituencies probably has a minimum of four candidates, often multiples thereof. There's actually quite a lot of people who have historically run for parliament.
[00:12:02] Edward: And the overriding denominator of all of that is that they didn't win. Very few people won. So what you do is you end up meeting lots of people who didn't win. And actually that's not particularly helpful. And now having run, I get called all the time by, by, friends who go, "Oh, I've got a friend of mine who's thinking about running for Parliament. I was wondering if I could connect you, and I say, "Don't do it". They don't want to talk to... and every now and again I'd be bullied into doing it. They go, "What's your advice?" And I'd say, "My advice is do not talk to anyone who's run for parliament because all they can tell you is how they lost. And that's not very useful information actually. You need to work out how you are gonna win".
[00:12:44] Edward: And having some old ex-candidate who's probably a bit beaten up and bruised and soured by the entire thing, telling you how awful the experience was, isn't useful. You need to go into it with blinkers on and run at it at a hundred miles an hour. Like nobody's ever done this before. And you are the first person in thinking of the crazy idea of knocking on people's doors and just go and do it. Don't listen... every... these thousands of people, we've all got the tattoo. Don't listen to us. We know nothing.
[00:13:14] Steve: So the election process itself is somewhere between three and six weeks. I'm guessing not many companies would be over-excited about losing a member of the team for that long?
[00:13:32] Edward: Yes, I think it's an entirely fair point. I've been extremely blessed to have worked for two companies now who have been comfortable with that. And I've always been, in both cases, I was upfront with them and beforehand and said, "Look, you've gotta understand that I am an approved parliamentary candidate. That does mean that should an election be called I will need down-tools and go on unpaid leave".
[00:13:56] Edward: And it will be in all likelihood with next to no notice, you know, it will be Prime Minister goes outside Number 10 an afternoon and we are literally battle buses the next day.
[00:14:06] Edward: So, it is difficult. I think it is one of those things which does create a barrier to entry for a lot of people who might otherwise be interested in doing it. You've got a) that issue of having an employer who's comfortable with it without you having to resign with no notice. You've also got to be in a position to go without pay for four to six weeks, which you know, for a lot of people, it is understandably an issue not to have a, an income coming in.
[00:14:34] Edward: Unfortunately, a classic example is my current employer had to effectively write a new HR policy to allow me for it. But you can't prevent somebody from doing jury duty, for example, if you're called do jury duty, your company has to understand that that is an obligation that you, that we all have to society and they have to let you go and do that. The same thing doesn't exist for running for any kind of elected position, which is a shame If you had a legal requirement it would probably, I'm not saying would dramatically change the, the types and numbers of people going forward, putting their names forward, but it's just one of those other small things that is a barrier to getting the kind of representation that we probably deserve.
[00:15:21] Steve: Earlier I mentioned that moment when the UK Prime Minister steps outside Downing Street, walks up to that podium and announces a general election. Well...
[00:15:37] Edward: One thing you've got to know about one of the quirkisms of British politics is that when the podium comes out for the Prime Minister to announce general election, it doesn't have the number 10 Downing street prime ministerial badge on the front.
[00:15:56] Edward: Whenever the Prime Minister comes out to to make an announcement in front of number 10, it has their personal logo, Number 10, Downing Street Prime Minister's black and white logo on the front, much like this presidential seal, I guess. That is the representative, the branding of the Prime Minister.
[00:16:13] Edward: When they come out to announce a general election that is an electioneering statement and so they can't have the Prime Minister's logo on. So in the chaos, that was the run-up to the 2019 election, the Prime Minister kept on coming out to, to make announcements and there was like 'logo watch', you know, every time it would come out all of the political hacks would say, "The logo's on the logo's on the logo's on. It's definitely not, it's definitely not a general election, the logo's on". So we sort of sat there constantly at half-mast half-ready to go, waiting for the time that he came out without the the logo on it. And so yes, that's the gun that fires the election.
Let the electioneering begin
[00:16:52] Steve: Okay so let's start to think about the process, the day to day. So the Prime Minister's gone out onto that plinth and said, "We're gonna have an election". All hell let's loose and then you get into the daily process, which could be three weeks it could be six weeks. Give us a typical day in the life of a potential parliamentary candidate.
[00:17:17] Edward: Depending on how long you've got, how snap the election is, most constituencies will have an election plan either in finite detail or at least sort of sketched out for what that 4, 3, 4, 5, 6 week period, depending on how long you got, looks like in terms of day-to-day activity. Annoyingly a lot of it actually won't start coming together until you're in the election cycle.
[00:17:40] Edward: So a big thing, for example, is hustings. Hustings are effectively town hall meetings with all of the candidates and questions. They tend to be organized all around the constituency so that as many people as possible have an opportunity to hear from the candidates in person. They tend to be focused on the larger urban areas for obvious reasons, but they are thrown together at the very last minute obviously they're not, those aren't pre-booked.
[00:18:04] Edward: So a lot of stuff that you might have a plan just gets thrown out the window because x school up the road, rings around all the candidates and goes, "Can you come in on Tuesday afternoon and speak to our sixth formers?" You know, suddenly you've got a room full of 2 to 400 potential voters, so you're gonna want to go and do that. Hustings happens over there, or, you know, there's a schedule to be just sort of a, I know as we were doing it around Christmas, a Christmas fÃªte in a village who suddenly go, "Well, let's get all candidates down". Suddenly you go, "Right, throw that plan out the window. We're all hiking over to there to the village fÃªte, to the Christmas market". But to be honest, most of it is churn. It's just how many doors can you knock on? Okay. So all of the evidence shows that the more you get in front of people, the more you have an opportunity to see you and speak to you, the more likely they are to come out for you.
[00:18:53] Edward: So you're basically, you are using data to carve up the population of the constituency. Considering there are roughly 80,000 people and you know, you'll have X number that may be predisposed to you based on previous voting habits or things that they've signed or, you know, whatever it might be. And so you want to make sure that you get out the people who you think are gonna vote for, you are most likely to vote for you, and then go and see the people that you might be able to persuade to vote for you and don't waste your time talking to people who are absolutely under no circumstances gonna vote for you. Right?
[00:19:27] Edward: So data is king with all these things because you're constantly knocking on doors throughout the year. So you're trying to identify where your core constituents are and where your floating voters are and where your definitely not are. And then you want to use that period of time that you've got in the short campaign to get at people. We're lucky enough in West Dorset to be, to have, a large number of supporters and donors who help us be able to afford a constituency organizer. if you are really rich, you might have an entire, sort of office of people working for you. We can afford one person, as long as they're very young and doing it for the experience, and you know, they'll be out with the candidates. They will have worked with the campaign manager who's normally a volunteer, will and is usually pretty experienced, has done a number of elections, will be, will have the campaign plan and will have identified where to go. If you've got a data officer, again, volunteer role, they'll be putting together door knocking lists for you, for you to go and door knock.
[00:20:28] Edward: And then your constituency organiser will be seeing how many of the local members that they can get to congregate at wherever it is you need to be to help you knocking on doors. And, it is start at sun-up and end at sundown. People don't tend to like you knocking on the door after the sun's gone down, fair enough. But you start at sunup you end at sundown and you go knock on as many doors as you humanly can and talk to as many people as you possibly can and answer their questions and deal with local issues and show them the kind of representative that they might be voting for. And you do that solidly every single day, seven days a week for four to six weeks until you can't do it anymore.
[00:21:05] Edward: So when you get home, having been door knocking all day during the campaign, that's not the end of your working day. So you've invariably got a call with your campaign team, your campaign manager, your constituents, your organisers to talk about the next day's activities, make sure that you've got everything that you need and you know where you've got to be and maybe that you've gotta do a quick ring-round of some of the members to see if you can get people out the next day to, to campaign with you. And then you have to sit at your computer and answer the, anywhere between a hundred to 200 emails that you. receive that day from voters in the constituency who are contacting you about their issues. So everyone's on the mailing list.
[00:21:49] Edward: If you are a member of an organisation, if you're a member of a charity or sports charity or ever signed up to any kind of mailing list, that organisation probably would've sent you a link saying contact your local MP about this issue. And all you've gotta do is click on that link, put in your postcode and it will send an automatic email to not just your MP but also with the other candidates in that constituency.
[00:22:16] Edward: And so you have to go through it and you have to answer and yeah, look you know, yes, you do end up with a stock answer for, this is my position on heart disease - bad. This is my position on cancer - against it. This is my position on police brutality - no more. You know, but you do have still got to pace and it can't just be a one liner, "Yeah. I'm with You down with cancer". You've gotta give them the full chapter and verse and then, you know, you've also got the people who have written bespoke ones to you. They love to catch you out. "Actually, you've given me your stock answer there, but actually I changed that line and asked you an additional question", right? So there's round two, so you're doing that for another 2, 3, 4 hours every evening. So it, doesn't stop. It is a long, long day when you're doing that.
[00:23:01] Steve: And I guess you get quite good at rejection?
[00:23:09] Edward: As you may well know Steve, I've spent my entire life in sales, I'm pretty used to having people hang up the phone to me, saying no to me. I've learned not to take that personally. it's a little more personal when it's you that is the product, right? It's one thing when people are saying like, I absolutely don't need that x that you're ringing me about when you're going, "It's me".
[00:23:28] Edward: And they're going, "I absolutely don't want that", it's a little more personal, but you do just have to roll with that. I will tell you that, you know, a lot of brilliant friends came and helped out during the election campaign, a number of whom were friends that I'd met along the way in sales desks, who you give them a list and they come back five minutes later going, "Where's the next list?" Because they've done it, you know, they've been round, they know the question to ask the "yes" or the "no" and they get there quickly and they're on, if you ever want to win an election, hire an army of sales people because they can door-knock like it's no one's business.
[00:24:01] Edward: But yeah, it is personal, there's no way to get around that. And, when somebody's saying "No", you know, you can tell yourself they're saying no to the party. You know, they are also saying no to you because ultimately, how our democracy works, they're not, you know, you are voting for your elected representative in your local area, not for a national party. So, you know, it is a little bit personal. I've had, you know, I had somebody who refused to shake my hand. I'm not voting for you lot I'm not even gonna shake your hand. And you go, "It's one thing to, say you're not voting for the Liberal Democrats. Not shaking hands is just impolite. Right".
[00:24:34] Edward: I did have, it was actually a retirement block of flats, and there was, I knocked on the door and this little old lady opened the door a crack and, I'm six foot three, she was probably three foot two. This tiny little old lady opened the door and she said, "Yes, dear"? I said, "Hello I'm Edward, I'm your Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate. "Are you dear?" "Yes, I am". "Well, in that case, you can fuck off"! and slammed the door in my face. And you go, "Okay". I mean, that was definitely personal, but you know, it's the game. Right?
[00:25:08] Edward: You know, and I do often say to people, you know, who say, "What was it like"? I say, "You know, there are many, many, many ways that are quicker, cheaper, and less painful to find out that 40,000 people don't like your face. And I would recommend that you try all of them before you run for parliament, but it's good fun as well.
[00:25:29] Edward: You know what, if you're a people person like me, it is really good fun and, jokes aside, there is something incredibly important and moving about knocking on someone's door and them using it as an opportunity to tell you what they want. It, may be the pothole outside their driveway, but it may be something much bigger. It may be something extremely personal to them. It may be because they lost a family relative to a disease, which there just isn't enough investment in. It may be because their sisters living on benefits and doesn't have enough to heat their house. It may be something that's happened to them personally.
[00:26:09] Edward: It's people's stories. When they're asking you, they're begging you they're saying, you know, they're not saying, I'm gonna give you my vote. This isn't a condition of of me voting for you. It's somebody's come and knocked on my door for the first time ever and said, "What is important to you?"
[00:26:25] Edward: "What matters?", "What do you want your MP to be doing for you?" And West Dorset is 80,000 people, most constituencies are 80,000 people. Most people will never meet their MP. Most people will never have someone knock on their door. You can't, in four weeks, get around 80,000 people. You can't, in five years, get around 80,000 people they're just doing it not be bad or the time that you call or whatever it is. But when you, most people given an opportunity to speak, somebody who may be their representative, will grab that opportunity to tell you what is the little thing that can improve their life or improve the world. And they are so grateful for that opportunity. And I think that for me is the core of democracy. That's why we do it.
[00:27:08] Steve: And presumably for every one of those rejections, you get one that says, "Yes I'm going to vote for you." And you can take that personally as well?
[00:27:17] Edward: I mean, it's not one-for-one, it would've been a closer, right? It's about five-to-one if I'm on honest, Steve. But yeah, absolutely, you know, it is an ego-boost. There's no two ways about it. That's the, that's the high you're living for, right? When somebody goes, sometimes it's a 45 minute conversation at the end of which they go, "Actually, you know what, I might vote for you". And sometimes it's the person who opens the door, sees a rosette and goes, "Don't worry mate, talk to someone else. You've already got my vote." wife goes, "And mine too" from the back.
[00:27:51] Steve: Well I guess five-to-one in sales terms is quite a good return isn't it?
[00:27:54] Edward: It's great conversion rate, great conversion rate, terrible in politics?
Reapplying for the same job...
[00:28:01] Steve: So, in the UK, elections are currently held every five years. That's under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. In Australia they've had eight elections in the 21st century already, so that's about one every three years. In the United States, it's every four years but they have midterms and other stuff going on, so it's more like every two years. Now, if I got a job and I was told that every two years I had to reapply, and by the way it's a six week process, I'd pass. Can you explain to me the appeal of a career with a job description like that?
[00:28:45] Edward: No. There, there's no logical sense to it. I genuinely believe that the majority of people who run for parliament, and even those that are in parliament, regardless of what you might think about their political views, the majority of it go into it because they want to achieve something. They want to achieve something while they're there.
[00:29:09] Edward: And you know, I think they mentally are telling themselves it is what they want is for the betterment of the entire UK. May not always be the case. And you can argue, certainly argue that point quite a lot. But it is poorly paid by international standards, pretty well paid for UK standards, you know, it's nearly Â£90,000 now.
[00:29:33] Edward: So it's pretty well paid by UK standards. Pretty poorly paid by international standards. It is certainly uncertain for at least about a third of the current sitting crop at any coming election. You know, there's a lot to dissuade it, dissuade you from doing it. But as it stands at the moment, political power is very much centered in our parliaments, whether it be the UK National Parliament or the devolved parliaments. It is very much centered on those places. And so, you know, we don't have the level of local autonomy that you, to use the Australia example, for example, you have it at State level there or even in America at State level there. And so if you do want to bring about sweeping change, you do have to do it at that national level. And that's where the power is. So that's where you go and you do that at a cost of all of the uncertainty that you're talking about.
[00:30:29] Edward: And, actually it's probably a good thing. I want us to be able to remove our representatives quickly and easily should we need to. I, wouldn't, you know, unfortunately we do have huge encumbrancies and there are safe seats that people can just sit in for very, very long periods of times. I circle back to the point of the value of electoral reform and switching to proportional representation because having people in parliament for 30, 40 years is not helpful to the betterment of politics and good policy.
The problem with running again
[00:30:57] Edward: I get asked a lot whether or not I'm planning on running again and I certainly hope to run once more, but I do also make the point that there is a point at which I am a straight, white, middle aged man in Parliament, you know, there's a point in which do I, actually want to get into Parliament in my mid or late fifties and, actually be exactly the problem that most people look at Parliament as having, which is that it's packed full of straight, white, middle-class middle aged white, you know? And you sort of go, you become the problem, right?
[00:31:36] Edward: And people go, well, you know, you've got experience of running. Yeah, but actually what we want to do is have better politicians and having people who are from diverse backgrounds and having people who are young and radical is actually quite helpful, to shaking up the system a little. So, you know, a classic example of this is the House of Parliament, Houses of Parliament, Palace of Westminster is falling down. It was, built in the medieval times and is a fire hazard and a water hazard and it's full of rats and the plumbing leaks and the bill for fixing it is tens of billions now. And the only way to really do it cost effectively is for parliament to move out, probably for the better part of the decade, and move somewhere else.
[00:32:29] Edward: And no MP is willing to allow that to happen because they've got elected and now they want to be in Westminster and they want to invite their mates to the Palace of Westminster, and they want to have, you know, the drinks on the balcony and all of that kinda stuff. And so everyone's got a vested interest. They all wanna stay there despite the fact that it's going to cost the taxpayers twice as much to have them in residence. And we'll probably end up with shoddier job than if we just move them out. And so you go, "Well, yeah". You know, we've got all these people who you know, who's wanted to be there, got there and now don't want it to change. And actually what we need is having people who wanted to go in there and shake the tree a little bit.
[00:33:05] Steve: The problem is the sort of Portakabin in York just doesn't quite have the same appeal, it?
[00:33:12] Edward: It doesn't, but you know, you do sort of you know, we own, the government owns the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre across the road, and suddenly you go, "Well, okay, let's shove 'em all in a conference centre, let's have a, you know, circular room, a room, and we put the chairs out in a circular fashion rather than, opposite each other, shouting and screaming at each other. So which... by the way is what they've done in both Holyrood in Scotland and in the senate in the Welsh Parliament as well, which I think is much better. And let's not have subsidised beer in all the bars. It'll just be in a conference centre, so there won't be any bars where they can all sexually harass their assistants. You just suddenly go, there's an opportunity here for rank and file reform. If we can just get 'em out of the building. It almost feels like most of it, most of the problem is associated with the actual infrastructure itself. And if we can separate the two, then suddenly every other change doesn't look so radical.
[00:34:07] Edward: I mean look, for all of the chats of leveling up, you wanna solve the rail problems, East West rail problems in the north of England. put Parliament in York. I swear to God, you'll have a high speed East-West rail link built within five years. No problem at all, you know?
[00:34:26] Steve: So tell me about how the cost thing works.
[00:34:34] Edward: Okay. So, there's a spending limit for the short campaign. So the short campaign is the point at which an election is declared to election day and that's what's called the short campaign. The long campaign is anything that happens before that, when you know that election is coming up, there's no spending limit on that. But during the short campaign, you are limited by the electoral commission. That cap is set by the number of eligible voters within your constituency, which is broadly speaking plus or minus 5%, about 80,000 per constituency. it's about 15,000 that you can spend in the short campaign, which when you think that you've got to reach 80,000 people potentially, that's not a lot per head, right?
[00:35:17] Edward: So it is not like you're there mailing out every single day prospectuses to people. The reason why everyone builds up their membership locally and their supporters locally is you need people who are willing to go out and deliver stuff for you, because you can't do it by postage. So you need people shoving stuff through letter boxes.
[00:35:35] Edward: So you have a very, very small amount to spend. And that literally goes on printing stuff that you're gonna shove through people's doors. So that's an aside. In an ideal situation, you have a campaign organiser, or constituency organiser, whatever you wan't to call them. Even at minimum wage you're looking at 20,000 pounds plus for that person who you want to be able to be in a position to be able to afford to hire as early on as possible before the election. You technically can't pay them during the election, or at least you can from within your short campaign money, which you wan't to spend on other stuff.
[00:36:11] Edward: So, you want that constituency organizer for as long as you can possibly afford them beforehand because they're then get out and about and get to as many doors as possible and produce the material and all of those important activities. So, you know, you're looking at, another 20 plus thousand a year on that. You obviously also wanna be shoving stuff through people's doors prior to the short campaign as well. So you could be looking at another five to Â£10,000 depending on how much you're able to raise in spending per year. So you're at, 30,000 pounds minimum per annum that you wanna spend before you get to the election.
[00:36:45] Edward: And then when you're in the election, you just have about Â£15,000. You can spend like as much as Â£17,000 depending on the number electors in the area and that's not including the unpaid work that everyone else is doing, right? All of the organisers that are out shoving stuff through doors for you or campaigning for you.
[00:37:02] Edward: The executive members that are doing budgets, that are managing bank accounts, that are managing print runs, distributing materials, the cost of petrol, you know, West Dorset is 400 square miles of area that you've got a criss-cross in a car, and you're not the only one doing it. Printer paper, you know, everything, it all stacks up. I mean, it is phenomenally expensive. There is a very good book called Why We Get The Politicians We Deserve. It's by a journalist called Isabella Harmon and she talks about the cost. And when I first read it and it said it basically cost Â£50,000 to run for Parliament, I thought that was a laughable figure. There's no way it was that high. Yeah, absolutely. Well, as you start to add up the numbers, you get there fairly quickly.
[00:37:46] Steve: Presumably you could save money by jumping in a car with your opposition?
[00:37:50] Edward: Yeah, just pooling resources. We'll deliver your leaflets, you deliver ours. Yeah, absolutely, if only there was more collaboration. Yeah, so it is phenomenally expensive. It is phenomenally draining. And of course, you know, if you are the candidate, you are not, you're unlikely to be being paid during that time and again, is one of those little things that becomes a barrier to entry because, you know, unless you happen to be enormously independently wealthy, you are reliant on donors.
[00:38:18] Edward: You know, the Labour Party is lucky that it does have, still have, the trade unions providing some support as well. But more often than not, funding is going to the central party, not to the constituency. So you are fundraising within your constituency and within your membership, which is why building the membership is so key.
[00:38:38] Edward: If you are a constituency without a lot of members, trying to raise that money out of a pool of a hundred people is extremely difficult. You know, you want to be, you know it is difficult when you're at 450, 500 members, to be raising that kind of money unless you are lucky enough to have sort of, you know, a few rich donors or your own cash, then it becomes extremely difficult to run a fully funded campaign.
[00:39:01] Edward: That's why so few constituencies are actually, swing seats, are actually up for contention at any one time because a lot of them just, you know, you don't have a lot of people in play and you've gotta be doing that year in, year out over a long period of time.
[00:39:16] Steve: So, here we are on Election day, Voting day. It's late in the night, probably, you're standing on the platform with your combatants awaiting the declaration.
[00:39:38] Edward: Yeah.
[00:39:39] Steve: What does that feel like?
[00:39:40] Steve: So
[00:39:41] Edward: the thing is, you already know the result by the time you're up there. Not because they tell you but because you've been there for hours watching them being counted up
[00:39:51] Steve: and literally you're in you know, probably a sports hall with hundreds of council workers, who are there volunteering to give up their time to laboriously hand count elections and then somebody else to double check them.
[00:40:09] Steve: And then they're bundled up and then
[00:40:11] Edward: they are literally put into massive bundles on the table. So, you can look at your bundle and you know the answer and if the piles on the two tables look really close, then you may contest it and have a recount. And if it is not, and you look at all of your supporters and sort of all agree that you know it's definitely not gone your way, then, you know, you allow it to go through.
[00:40:34] Steve: But you know, you already know. And you know, I mean, certainly, you know, when I think the, my competition got about 30, 30,000. I, got about 20,000. Actually that is, they were always ahead throughout the night, right? You could always see that their pile was slightly larger. You were always behind, you knew the writing was on the wall. And of course you've got the exit results, which are the big thing that tells you more than anything else. Because at 10 o'clock when the polls close, all of the news channels simultaneously announced what they think the result is. And, due to exit polling and what they think that means, the makeup is going to look like, in 2019 was an absolute landslide for the Conservative Party It was pretty clear at ten that we probably weren't in with a shout. You know, as we watched through the night, the bundles being counted up, we were always behind. So by the time we actually got on stage and knew the announcement, yeah, we we resigned ourselves to what the what the number was going to be.
[00:41:33] Edward: And then the following morning you don't have to get out of bed to bang on doors, it's all over, what are your thoughts then?
[00:41:40] Edward: Yeah, this is a really interesting one. It probably, took me longer than I thought it would to process it, in that, you know, you're exactly right. You sort of, you know so you've been up till five in the morning, right? You've gone to bed, you've got gone home and gone to bed for a bit and then got up and it's a Friday. And you sort of realise that you don't need to go and knock on doors, so you sort of pootle about and do all of those things that you haven't done and start chucking out stuff you've gotta chuck out and trying to return your front room to something, some semblance of normalcy, rather than looking like a Lib-Dem gift shop.
[00:42:13] Edward: And, then you're in the weekend and as it happened, because of when the 2019 election was, it was right before Christmas, so you know, had the weekend, back to work on Monday, had a couple of weeks of work and then it was Christmas again. And It was actually probably only at Christmas, that it really all sort of started going, "Oh, right, okay. Yeah, I mean, that is completely over. I don't have anything to do. I don't need to do any of that stuff. There's no emails to answer, there's no telephone calls to make or stuff to drop off".
[00:42:45] Edward: You know, it's suddenly, that was the point I think really where I went, "Okay, yeah, it is all definitely over". So yeah, it is weird though. You know, you get up, you get up on Monday and you go back to work, right? And start clearing out your inbox of the bazillion emails that you've had in over the last four weeks.
Gillian Duffy moments
[00:43:04] Steve: Now you'll remember a lady called Gillian Duffy, Gordon Brown's nemesis in 2010. Gillian was... was the lady that Gordon Brown spoke to when he was out doing exactly what you were doing and then I think he made some off the cuff remark supposedly off camera...
[00:43:28] Edward: Yeah. Still miked up back in the car. Bigoted woman. Yeah.
[00:43:33] Steve: That's it. Did you have any Gillian Duffy moments?
[00:43:36] Edward: I mean, there's, I'm not entirely sure it's an appropriate story, but I did have an octagenarian ex-army type accost me in the street, and very posh absolutely in my face, over Brexit. And, it was a bit of a problem in that I had been very calm and he kept on, kept on shouting stuff at me. And the problem was I took all of his points and took them to pieces with facts, bloody facts, coming here with your facts, to the point where he did threaten to land me, and somebody had to come to pull me away.
[00:44:09] Edward: But my favorite one was, I was, we were out door knocking and I was walking on the street. We were going between two houses, and and there was this guy who sort of walked past and then sort of, and you know because you're there with your rosettes and your leaflets and what have you. And he went, did double a take and then he sort of I could feel internally when I went, "Hello sir are you alright?" And he went, "Oh not you lot. Oh no, not you lot". I said, "What not our lot what?" And he goes, "Oh, we gotta get it done, haven't we? We gotta get it done". I said, "We gotta get what done? He goes, "It. We gotta get 'it' done, haven't we?" I said, "I dunno what 'it' is". He goes, "Neither do I? But everyone keeps saying it". And I thought you've got a vote. You know your vote is worth the same as mine.
[00:44:55] Edward: That's the problem, but that is the wonders of our democracy, right? You know, everyone's vote is equal. It doesn't matter how informed you are or otherwise. But yeah, I mean like not everyone's gonna be your fan. We had some, we had some classic ones. So the big thing is putting stake boards out, right? So you've got your party sign, your party logo on a stake and you literally hammer it into the ground in people's gardens who have given you permission to do it. People do, you know, not just your membership, but people start emailing you and going, "Can I have a sign? Can I have a sign, you know, put put up in my window or a stake board in my garden?"
[00:45:34] Edward: And so, you know, there are people constantly driving around the constituency with stake boards, and not just putting them in the ground, but then going back five days later to replace the one that's been nicked by a supporter of the other side. They were constantly being defaced. I had a couple in my garden every morning I had to go and get out of a neighbour's hedge. Cause there was literally every night, somebody was going past and ripping it out and chucking it in the neighbour's hedge.
[00:45:58] Edward: But we had one where a lady, a very grand house, said, "I want one on my driveway and really piss off the neighbours. I was like, "Okay, fine". So we went up there, we gave her the biggest one we had right by these huge ornate wrought iron gates, right? This huge great sign nailed in. And she rang me up the next day. She said, "I need a new stake board." I said, "Oh no, has yours been nicked?" She said, "No, it's been defaced". I was like, "Oh, people just do this stuff". She goes, "Oh no, it's the conservatives". I said, "Well, we don't know that for sure. She Said, "Oh, we do. They've put their stake board in next to ours. Literally hammered their own one in next to ours and spray-painted over it". I was like, I mean, you know, scene of the crime, you've lost plausible deniability on this one chaps.
[00:46:50] Edward: I don't know if apocryphal or not, but wasn't there a story of, was it, Coca-Cola who did, or Pepsi, that did the ring-pull thing where the top prize if you managed to collect a million ring-pulls was a Harrier jump jet and somebody went and did it. And you were just like, of course someone do it. Of course someone... The minute... surely there was a point at which someone threw pencils in that meeting, right? Yeah, absolutely. The minute you announced it, it was like, "Right. Harrier jump jet, let's go"!
[00:47:19] Steve: Is that why Jeremy Clarkson's got a Harrier in his front garden?
[00:47:23] Edward: Yeah.
Change the system
[00:47:25] Steve: How can the system be changed to encourage more people to stand for Parliament like you?
[00:47:38] Edward: Well, hopefully not like me 'cause I'm just another straight, white, middle class guy. Look, you know, you have got a conservative party that has an inordinate amount of money from private donors, extremely rich private donors, who have, you know, clear political agenda.
[00:47:56] Edward: You've got the Labour Party, which is, got a lot of money from, the trade unions who have a very clear political agenda and so it does make it very difficult if you're not standing for either of those two parties to... money becomes a barrier to entry and certainly at a national level, the ability to grow the party is impeded by how much money you are able to raise.
[00:48:17] Edward: It's long been an issue to Liberal Democrats as it has been for the Greens and for a number of other smaller parties. Do you need central public funding for political parties? You say no donations, do you put a cap on donations that is significantly lower than it is right now? And on corporate donations as well, which would be very important to do? It certainly needs better policing than the current system, but you can certainly do more by imposing caps. Whether or not those would be a political appetite within the general public for taxpayers money to go to funding parties is a difficult one.
[00:48:53] Edward: But if you want a fairer system, then there's that. Proportional Representation would obviously mean that it would be much more likely for people to get elected, and would be a much fairer system, and much more representative of political views, which I think is important. You know, whether you like it or not, there are a lot of people that hold extremist views in either direction, left or right.
[00:49:16] Edward: But if you don't have an outlet for that, the risk is that that outlet becomes some other form, whether it be violent protest or otherwise. And certainly if you look at a lot of emerging market problems, it comes from a lack of political representation. And when you have, like you did with the Conservative Party, you know, a sort of influx of Brexit party members, then you end up with a very Brexit Conservative Party, because they have to hijack an existing political institution in order to find out their views. Actually having a duly representative, duly elected representative of those views, yes, it means that you're gonna have someone in parliament very loud and gobby expressing things a lot of us would be very uncomfortable with.
[00:49:59] Edward: But you would have that view represented and I suspect it would forever be the minority. But it would be better for society to have that. So Proportional Representation would go a long way. I think, you know, my personal view is we need an English parliament. It is, I think the last few years have shown up the ludicrousness of having a situation where you have a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Parliament and a UK Parliament that deals almost exclusively with English issues. Have an English parliament, with the same devolved powers as the others, as the other regions, and have a significantly smaller national parliament, which deals purely with the non-devolved issues.
[00:50:37] Edward: The foreign affairs, security and stuff like that. So, I think there is a lot that you can do, that would make it easier, a lot of which parties already do. Having all female shortlists, ensuring that one space on a short list is reserved for underrepresented groups, whether it be BAME or disability or whatever it might be. So that you increase the likelihood of parliament beginning to reflect the general public. And, you know, with, in fairness parliament is much more of a reflection of the general parl... general public. It is still heavily skewed towards public schools, but actually now it's almost 50:50, which for a long time it wasn't.
[00:51:18] Edward: I think we're at about 45% female, which again is an all-time high. Certainly in terms of representation of BAME communities, LGBT communities, it is actually above the national percentages. So we are getting there, but there is still more that could be done. Certainly sending on the age profile for sure. So, yeah, so, you know, I'm, the thing about being a Liberal Democrat, Steve you've gotta understand is you have to be an eternal optimist and a glutton for punishment, right? And I am an eternal optimist. I do believe, you know, as Martin Luther King said that the arc of history bends towards justice. And I do think we are getting there incrementally. Would I like it to see faster? Yes, absolutely. And taking the money out of the game would go a long way to doing that. But we are getting there We are getting better at this stuff.
[00:52:14] Steve: And what advice would you give to anyone listening if they were considering standing for their parliament wherever that may be?
[00:52:23] Edward: The most important piece of advice I can give you is do not listen to advice from anyone who has run for parliament, 'cause all they know how to do is lose. Even if they won, eventually they will have lost. So don't listen to people like myself. The second piece of advice I would give is, there is absolutely no substitute for talking to people. Twitter is an echo chamber. Facebook is too. Social media isn't the answer. You have to go and knock on someone's door and talk to them if you are asking them for something as fundamentally important as their vote, which is huge. It is a huge thing to ask somebody to put their faith in you to look after them. You have to give them... do the decent thing and at least go and talk to them or try and talk. It's impossible to get around every house. Most people just aren't there.
[00:53:22] Edward: You know, if it's a safe seat, which has been gerrymandered or whatever, sure, I appreciate that's not gonna be in the case. But, anywhere where you want to make change what you want to bring about change, you have go and talk to people and motivate them, give them a reason to go out and vote for you.
[00:53:37] Steve: So there you have it. It's complicated. It's hard work. It's expensive. It's nearly broken. Most of us want it, but not many of us are prepared to do much to protect it. I'll leave Edward with the final message.
[00:53:55] Edward: You've gotta be really weird to wanna be a part of a political party, right? You've gotta understand party membership is a historical low, only about 65% of the British public vote in a general election, in local elections, even 50%. In police and crime commissioner elections, it's barely even 20%.
[00:54:17] Edward: So you've gotta be really weird to want to be a signed up member of a political party. You think that our government, Conservative government has about 115,000, who selected the leader and the new Prime Minister. So the numbers are not huge anyway. You're already in a tiny, tiny minority. Then even within that group, you've got the people who are willing to sacrifice their time to be on a constituency or a... or not even a constituency, maybe just a local party, a town executive. The people who are willing to give up their hour or two a month to shove letters through doors on your behalf, the people who are willing to donate 20 pounds a year or five pounds a month or whatever it might be to supporting a political party.
[00:55:09] Edward: Those feel like strange things to want to do with your time. But it is on that bedrock in which our entire democracy is built, because without those people, you don't have candidates running for parliament and.... they are so intrinsic, so important to a functioning democracy, as are people who are willing to put their names forward, to be elected for things. Whether it be a parish council or a town council or a county council, or a general election, or all of the many other functions that we elect in this country. You know, those people who are willing to put themselves forward are so important because everybody's voice needs to be represented in election.
[00:55:52] Edward: It doesn't work if we just have, you know, two parties standing everywhere. We need the plethora of thoughts, and I don't just mean Liberal Democrats. The Hope Close Resurfacing candidates, the Raving Monster Loony Party candidate, the chicken, Mr. Baron Buckethead or Count Buckethead, whatever his name was. You know that everybody who, who stands is standing for... to improve the lot of the people in their local area or nationally, and actually being willing to put yourself forward for that stuff, you know, I have nothing but respect for people who are willing to do that at any level, but especially at the lowest level.
[00:56:35] Edward: It's really easy to be the parliamentary candidate. It's the glamorous seat, right?. Okay. It's the striker, it's the... it is the winger It's the show-boater, It's, you know, it's the bit who gets to be the face, who gets to do the press and do the hustings and tends to be loud-mouths like me, who like the sound of their voice.
[00:56:53] Edward: The real heroes are the, you know, the retiree who's giving up an hour of their time once a week to go and shove leaflets through the same round week in, week out, the person who's sat on the executive of their local party or their parish council for the last 20 years, trying through just sheer bloody mindedness to get that one thing changed, you know, and those are the people on whom we rely on, when most of us, the overwhelming majority of this country, and I'm talking 98% of us, go through our lives without ever thinking or caring about those things.
[00:57:29] Edward: Okay? And then only 65% of us turn up to vote at the general election. So, you know, really... the... what I'd say to anyone is, you know, you can be a cog in this machine. You can... you can bring about real change, and please don't ever hesitate to think that you are not the right person. You... you don't sound right, you don't look right, you can't do it. Anyone can do it if you've got the willingness to do it, and without you, none of it works. None of us get to be the beneficiary of a working democracy without you, So it's incredibly, incredibly important put yourself forward.
[00:58:06] Edward: If we want to have a functioning democracy, if we want to enjoy all of the benefits that come from, from living in a free and open society, then we need people willing to participate in it. We need people who are willing to put themselves forward. That's the, that's the bulwark, that's the defense that we have.
[00:58:28] Edward: So please do not hesitate. Do not think I can't be the person to do it. You are exactly the person that needs to do it.
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