How do I get selected as a Conservative candidate for a parliamentary seat?

The next general election campaign has been underway arguably for a year already. Catalysed by the demise of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and spurred on by seven months of government instability that now seems to be rearing its head once more, it makes sense that the Conservatives and Labour are racing to select candidates for their top target seats. 

Getting selected early gives candidates a lengthy run-up to raise funds, recruit volunteers, and increase their name recognition – all key pillars to a successful local campaign.

This is a process requiring perseverance, resilience, and scrutiny, akin to when you are elected as a Member of Parliament. The Party is not trying to catch you out, they are narrowing the field of candidates applying to one seat from 200, down to eight, then to three. That means the candidate finally chosen is most likely to be the best person to represent that seat.

College Green Group can improve your chances of success.

Now the real work begins

Congratulations, you passed the Approval Stage. That means the Conservative assessors believe that you have what it takes to be an MP. You have set out your stall as to why you are a Conservative, you have been grilled, and you have shown you can speak well in public and take questions from all-comers. They think you are ready for a public-facing, public-serving role. Now you have to convince the local membership.

College Green Group has worked with more than 100 clients to successfully complete this stage and join the ‘Approved List’. Our in-house team will continue this journey with you and elevate your application as you move to this next, critical stage.

As you move on to apply for specific constituencies, the process becomes much more about the seat you are applying for, rather than you. Our research can help you identify the information you need to have to craft your Seat CV: Who are the key local contacts, who are the largest employers, what are the areas with the highest crime rates, which schools aren’t meeting Ofsted standards, what are the key events in the community calendar?

Our Constituency Briefs can give you a high-level overview of these issues. If you want a more thorough deep dive into the area, we can prepare a ‘Constituency Warbook’ running to over 100 pages of granular research into your chosen seat.

The Seat CV

Tying together this local knowledge and showing how your past experiences are relevant is the way to advance to the next stage. Across four sections, you have 10,500 characters (including spaces) to get this across. But the reality is Association Officers sifting through potentially 200+ Seat CVs are going to decide to put you on the ‘maybe’ pile, only if you impress them in the top third of the first box.

Impressing in the interviews

Assuming they are intrigued to learn more about you, you could get called for an interview. Oftentimes it will be without much notice. Because of this, it is key to prepare in advance, should you get the call. 

Your speech will be a three-minute long, (roughly 500 words) opportunity to impress. It must tie in local issues and it must demonstrate why you have the qualities necessary to serve as a good MP.  It will be daunting – you will be presenting to and fielding questions from the ‘Executive’ panel that includes senior association officers, councillors, among others. Every answer needs to show why you’re right for them.

College Green Group’s team is composed of former candidates, constituency agents, and election strategists – all firmly familiar with this process. We have worked with clients across five general election cycles and by-elections. We can help you prepare that important speech and carefully craft your answers, long before you get that call to an interview.

The final stage is the Members’ Hustings. The field will be narrowed to no more than four and you must deliver your speech – suitably tweaked – to a much larger audience. There is a moderator, who interviews you one-to-one, then you field questions from the Conservative members before they vote.

Speaking to an audience of more than 200 is quite different to the Executive interview where you will present to perhaps no more than 15 people. This is your last opportunity to impress and after your 20-30 minutes on stage,  whether your journey continues will be decided by the members. 

Speaking to an audience of more than 200 is quite different to an Executive interview where you will present to perhaps eight. This is your last opportunity to impress – after your 20 minute presentation whether or not your journey continues will be decided by the members.

Need some tailored advice?

We can go beyond CCHQ’s training advice, and develop your persuasive communication, personal presentation, and response to questions. Working with us, we can help you understand local issues, craft a powerful speech ready for you to deliver, and provide you with deep preparation to answer the burning questions you will be faced with.

With College Green Group, you will have the edge over your fellow competitors. Like we have done so with now-sitting Conservative MPs, we will help you win selection and then election in your dream seat. So if you would like a chance at following in their footsteps, please contact our Campaign Manager John Moss.