Yesterday, I wrote of the problems facing our women Parliamentary candidates, and the collective failures of the parts of the Party machinery that have a stake in dealing with such issues. It seemed to strike a chord with a number of people, who felt that I had put my finger on something which should concern us all.
However, in the eyes of an old colleague and friend, I didn't go far enough. And I have a confession to make - Duncan is right to say that. However, I have a defence, albeit an imperfect one. I might actually have to get involved in that process of reconciliation that is so necessary. In my role as a member of my State and Regional Candidates Committees, if a conciliator is required, I will be needed to act as an honest broker. Thus, taking a stance that places the blame on one side or the other reduces my potential effectiveness.
I have heard some pretty ghastly stories where candidates have been consistently undermined, and encountered Local Parties whose expectations of what might reasonably be expected of a candidate run towards the delusional end of any sensible scale. In turn, I have encountered candidates who have an unrealistic expectation of what the Local Party might be able to deliver, or whose perception of the winnability of their seat is flawed. Occasionally, I have lent a helping hand, where I am able to do so.
My responsibilities start with diagnosing the problem, which I think that I have done. However, that can only be an opening gambit, and actions speak louder than words. Last night, I found myself in conversation with a member of the Leader's team, and took the opportunity to raise this issue, seeking to place the item on their agenda. I got a fairly friendly hearing, and I hope that Team Nick will at least investigate further.
Over the coming few days, I will make some suggestions of my own regarding the roles that various groups might play in improving the situation. Meanwhile, Duncan will be doing some research as indicated yesterday. It won't be immediate, but we might have some effect in the medium and long term.
In the meantime, if you know a PPC who is struggling, offer them a helping hand. Do something that might ease their burden. If necessary, find someone who can step in if needed. After all, one day you might be that PPC...