Monday, 15 January 2007

Cost of being a candidate

Con-home website is on about the cost of being a candidate again. When I was selected as the parliamentary candidate for Birmingham Northfield one of the first things I did was go to visit the MG Rover factory, the largest employer in the constituency. I also bought a second hand Rover 25. It was the worst financial investment of my life. (You will remember that the company went bust in the middle of the general election.)

Despite this I love my Rover 25.

As the Conservative parliamentary candidate I got to fight for the issues I care about about, in the country I love.

I fought that battle for the Rover workers and others. For people that deserve an honest, decent, forward looking government.

Yes, being a candidate in a general election carries a high financial cost. Every candidate would be better off focusing on a "proper job". But please remember the experience as a candidate is one that can not be measured in money alone.


Ellee said...

Vicky, How much do you estimate it will cost you? I know it's hard to pin an exact figure as we don't know the election date, but have you put aside for this?

Serf said...

Whilst it is true that standing for election is something that is difficult to pin a value on, (being elected even more so), it is also true that many good people are potentially put off by the cost.

Vicky Ford said...

Ellee - I cant really answer that as the biggest cost is obviously completely changing career in order to make time for politics. In the past year Ive been offered quite a few opportunities to go back into the city - but taking any of those roles wouldn't give me spare time to take a proper political role. Many people take a side step or a backwards step in their careers order to get involved.

Serf - I completely agree. We need different people from differnt walks of life. I would be very uncomfortable though with the idea of wealthy individuals "sponsoring" a candidate. Our candidates and MPs need to be able to keep independence from the donors. Then again those who do donate to good causes should be praised!

Iain Dale said...

Vicky, you are right, but the trouble is that the cost of being a candidate is putting off people from modest backgrounds from having a go. What we want to avoid is a situation where being a candidate is the preserve of the rich or political obsessives.

Vicky Ford said...

Iain is right too - we need a balance of "real" people in political life. That means helping people from different backgrounds. BUT please lets not go back to days of "patronage".

Mens Sana said...

Although we do want successful people from all walks of life, not people who couldn't make it to the top of their chosen career.

The truth is that the cost of candidacy is too high because we make it so: candidates are expected to buy or rent a home in the constituency (not unreasonable), but also to give up their career, more or less, and then to contribute significantly out of their own pockets to fund the election campaign, or to raise funds for it. Yes loss of earnings is the biggest 'real' factor, but it is the other things like Vicky's car, property rental, personal contributions to fighting funds, asking ones friends to contribute etc which also make a huge difference and are not or should not be really necessary. I do not hear of this being a problem in either of the two other main parties, though perhaps thats because I dont read many of their blogs, but I suspect it is a largely tory phenomenon

JT said...

Vicky, I enjoyed your contribution on 18DS the other day.

In the 2001 election, the winning Labour candidate in Birmingham Northfield got more votes than all of the other candidates combined.

With that ominous recent history in mind, why did you actually decide to spend so much? Was it partly because you felt that you had to make a good show of it in order not to damage your prospects for a better seat next time around?

Also, was the decision to purchase a Rover anything other than a stunt to show sympathy for the (ex-)workers? Do you believe in forced Government expropriation of taxpayers' money to support a company whose products cannot compete sufficiently with those of other manufacturers?

Vicky Ford said...

Just to put everyone's mind at ease I bought my Rover because I needed a car.

I also believe that if we want local businesses we need to support them ourselves.

If people don’t buy Norfolk sausages in Norfolk or Devonshire cream in Devon then how can we expect people to buy them elsewhere? I was in Longbridge, I bought a Rover.

The car may was a "bad" financial investment due to the fact that all Rovers tanked in value when the receivers were called in, but it is a good car - which I am proud to own, enjoy driving and brought me many great experiences.

In terms of election results - yes we need better results all over the Midlands next time out. I believe that we can win seats like Birmingham Northfield if we all work together.

Of course the government should not throw tax payers money down black holes - but supporting British business is much more than just about "subsidies".

Keith said...

Vicky, I remember the huge financial contribution you made as well as the immense workload you endured.
Thanks to that experience I am determined that our next candidate will have as much cash available as possible. Thats why Birmingham Northfield takes so long to pay it's bills and spends as little as possible.
You will make some constituemcy an outstanding candidate and will blow them away in Parliament.