Becoming a governor, councillor or MP
It can be a frustrating process trying to get people in power to see things from your perspective.
Do you want to have more influence over the things that matter most to you? Why not make the most of your talents and become a decision-maker? It’s a great way to stand up for your community and get things done.
Here are some hints and tips on how to become an MP, a local councillor or a school governor there are of course of other areas of responsibility locally, but these are most commonly pursued for the purpose of creating political change.
Becoming a school governor
Becoming a school governor is often many people’s first experience of local politics. It can be a great introduction to decision-making.
As a school governor you can:
- Have influence over the way things are done in school, and shape the policies and procedures that will ultimately shape the way the next generation learns.
- Decide what is spent where and on what.
- Hold the Head Teacher to account for progress made against objectives set by the board, assist them to meet these challenges and decide who the next head teacher should be.
Who can become a school governor?
Anyone can become a school governor. You do not have to have a child at school. You just need to be over 18 when elected.
What makes a good school governor?
Many schools would particularly welcome new governors who have transferable skills developed at work, or who have a particularly good understanding of the community served by the school. If you’re a disabled person, bringing your life experience and diverse skills to the table can be a huge benefit to a school.
Governing bodies make decisions based on the advice of committees that deal with specific issues such as what is taught at the school, what premises are available or the school finances and budgets.
If you become a governor, you will probably be asked to serve on a committee where you have an interest or can make the biggest contribution. That means your skills will be put to good use immediately.
A typical governor can expect to spend six to eight hours a month on work related to the role.
How to apply?
You can apply to be a governor directly to your school or through your local authority.
You can download an application form.
Becoming a local councillor
What is a councillor?
Councillors are people who are elected to their local council to represent the views of their local community. They must either live or work in the area.
A councillor’s responsibilities can include:
- representing the ward they are elected in
- developing and reviewing council policy on a range of issues
- scrutinising the decisions taken by other councillors on the executive
- regulatory duties
- community leadership and engagement.
How to become a councillor?
Your first chance to become a councillor will probably be at your next local elections or you may have the opportunity to stand as a candidate in a by-election.
Most councillors are elected for a term of four years. If you are elected on a by-election which happen between full council elections your time as councillor will last until the next full council elections.
You can stand for election as either an independent or as a councillor for the political party that you feel best represents your views. If you are unsure which option is right for you, your local town hall will be able to offer advice.
To register your interest in becoming a party councillor, you need to contact the Democratic Services department of your local party to apply.
It’s then up to the local party to decide whether they think you have what it takes to win an election. To have the best chance of being elected make sure you get in touch your chosen party as soon as possible and get involved in their work at a local level. To stand for a political party at an election you will be expected to be a paid up party member, although there is no need to have been a member for years and years.
Becoming an MP
Detailed below is everything you need to consider before standing for election as a member of parliament and some top tips on how to get there:
Find out if you are eligible
First of all, find out if you are allowed to stand for Parliament.
You must be at least 18 years old and a British citizen, or a citizen of a Commonwealth country with indefinite leave to stay in the UK.
You can't be an MP if you're an undischarged bankrupt, a member of the armed forces, police, clergy or civil service, a prisoner serving more than a year in jail or if you've been found guilty of certain electoral offences.
If you intend to stand as a candidate for a specific political party, Remember each will have their own vetting and approvals procedures to decide who they want to represent them. Contact the party directly for more information.
A full list of political parties and details of how to contact them is available from the Electoral Commission website.
020 7271 0500
Make a reputation for yourself as a campaigner by writing letters to your newspaper, campaign on local issues, participate in local community groups or get directly involved by becoming a school governor.
Most importantly get to know people. If local residents recognise your name on the ballot paper or you have done something to improve their lives, they will be more likely to vote for you.
Raise cash. The more money you have, the bigger your election campaign can be and the more chance you'll have of getting elected.
Ask family and friends for donations, but also try to raise money from local businesses and organisations that might be likely to support your cause.
The minimum you need is your £500 deposit to register in a Parliamentary election but a good campaign would require at least £5,000 for leaflets, local advertising and any other campaign materials you might need.
Choose an agent
Find an election agent. Every candidate must have one, although you can act as your own agent.
Be very careful who you choose because your agent will run your election campaign and will also be responsible for keeping and submitting your accounts. Your agent must live within the area you wish to stand.
Register your intention to stand. Once Notice of Election has been called, you have until 4pm on deadline day to notify the Returning Officer.
The nomination form, available from the Electoral Commission or local council, must be signed by 10 electors and must be delivered by the candidate in person.
Get out and meet your public
Knock on doors. There's no better way of raising support than meeting voters in person.
Candidates are also entitled to free use of rooms to hold public meetings during their campaigns.
Check out our ‘Whose vote are you missing? guide to make sure your meeting is accessible.
Create a buzz
Get as many supporters as possible to campaign for you on the street.
A group of enthusiastic volunteers campaigning on your behalf may well swing those who have not yet decided to vote for you.
Do as much as you can to catch people's attention - loud hailers, balloons and live music are a great ways to grab attention.
But remember, it is against the law to pay anyone to canvass or campaign for you.
Are you ready to make the step?
If you have extra barriers, you can now apply for the Access to the Elected Office Fund, which helps to pay for additional disability-related costs that you might incur as part of standing for election.