Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, April 06, 2015

Recruiting candidates for future elections

In the USA, gerrymandering and incumbent advantages make most House of Representative seats safe for one party or the other. The same is true in the UK, but those safe seats in the UK can be major stepping stones for opposition rookies.

The general election candidates with no hope of winning
Well over half of the 650 seats up for grabs are "very unlikely to change hands" on 7 May, according to the Electoral Reform Society.

That won't stop candidates from rival parties - not to mention independents - from putting themselves forward…

While there could be upsets in an "extraordinary" election, running against the favourite is usually a thankless task with little support from party HQ…

But it has been the first step on the Westminster ladder for many leading figures in British politics.

They include Boris Johnson, who ran in the safe Labour seat of Clwyd South ("I fought Clwyd South - and Clwyd South fought back", he said) and Tony Blair, who came a distant third in a by-election in Tory stronghold Beaconsfield South in 1982…
Tony Blair (center) as a candidate in 1982
Joe Goldberg tried to unseat local MP David Cameron for Labour in Witney in 2010, finishing third as the future prime minister coasted to a 22,740 majority.
David Cameron and opponents in the last election. Joe Goldberg with the red Labour Party badge.
"You're not going to beat David Cameron when you're standing in Witney, it's not going to happen," the 38-year-old says, insisting that despite the "huge commitment" his campaign required, he does not regret it "for a minute".

Taking part in a Hustings debate against the Tory leader was "something to tell the grandchildren", he says.

But his reason for standing is probably shared by also-rans across the country.

"It's about making sure that there's a voice for people who have a slightly different point of view," he adds.

"That's part of the democratic process."

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

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