In March 2017, Nadine Peatfield stood as Labour candidate at a by-election in Derwent Ward. In what was her first involvement in standing for public office, Nadine shares her experience:
"I can’t believe it’s only been a year since I decided to become an active member of the Derby Labour Party. I’ve made so many friends and learnt so much that it feels like so much longer. The turbulent politics of summer 2016 spurred me to stop complaining on Facebook about the state of the country, put my money where my mouth is and do something about it. I decided to get active locally and gain experience with a view to standing for Council in 2018. My plans were soon fast-tracked when a seat became available in January 2017. Though I’d only had a few months experience of canvassing, I decided to go for it.
"The first step was to apply to be on the panel which was a short and painless interview. The next step was to present my argument for being the candidate to the local ward. For the selection meeting I had to write a 5 minute speech about myself, my experience and why I wanted to be a Councillor. At the meeting there were 4 of us from the panel. When it was my turn I delivered my 5 minute speech to the ward members then answered their questions. After they deliberated we stood in line waiting for them to announce who they had chosen which was very nerve wracking! When they said my name my jaw dropped, I was shocked yet thrilled that they had chosen me.
"As it was a by-election there were only 7 weeks to campaign so work began the very next day. I posed for photos in the ward, met local people who work in the community and worked with the Agent and the other Labour ward Councillor to form a plan of action. Before we even put together pledges or campaign material we were out knocking on doors. As I work from home I was able to campaign every day of the by-election, 7 days a week for 7 weeks. It was a lot of hard work but I loved every minute of it. I was so proud to have covered the whole ward more than once. I also met with local businesses, chatted to parents at school gates, wrote and delivered campaign material, attended toddler groups, community groups and meetings.
"The day of the by-election was a long, exhausting but exhilarating experience. I had lots of support throughout the day from near and far and there was a real buzz in the air. Local Councillors were knocking on doors for me, all offering their wonderful support. At 10pm the polling stations closed and nothing more could be done. After a quick change into my Labour-red dress I went to the Council House for the count. At around midnight all the votes were counted and the candidates were told the result. I had lost by 181 votes. Devastated doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I had to keep my emotions together for the announcement and I think I did a dignified job. I’ll admit it’s been a long time since I have felt so low and it took some time to get over it but the support of my Labour friends was a huge help. It was a 3 month rollercoaster of emotions but I loved every second of it (OK not the losing bit so much). The experience I gained was invaluable and the loss made me more determined than ever to win next time. When the General Election was announced I threw myself into it, working again with my Labour family and using my experience to help run a brilliant local campaign.
"If you feel passionate about the party, want to help your community and want to make a difference, I encourage you to go for it. Don’t think that you’re not Councillor material, that there’s no chance or that someone else would do a better job We need YOU, your passion, your drive, determination and enthusiasm. Everything else can be learnt. If you want to know more about standing to be a Councillor please get in touch with James Shires (firstname.lastname@example.org). As a former candidate, I can talk to you about my election experience, or one of the current Councillors can chat with you and explain what’s involved in the job. Applications for 2018 close soon, so go for it, you won’t regret it."