The Candidate’s Aide’s Briefing – Lesson 1 – Cars

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Leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party, Howling Lord Hope, had no driving licence which made him unsuitable to be a candidate's driver!

An important role in any election campaign is that of candidate’s aide. This person shadows the candidate making sure that they keep to their timetable, meet voters and avoid any pitfalls that might befall the campaign.

The team that travels with the candidate generally includes three people, as a minimum, in which ‘the driver’ joins the candidate’s aide and the candidate.

The driver is a vital role. This person can make or break the campaign, along with the candidate’s aide. I have been the candidate’s aide on a number of occasions in elections and cars, as well as other vehicles (to follow); can be influential in the outcome and media reaction.

So, when carrying a party leader, MP or candidate, remember the following rules.

Check the driver has a licence!

When on the Top Gear programme I was pitched against a number of MPs, and members of other parties, one of which did not have a full driving licence.

He came last, taking over 30 seconds longer than the penultimate contender, showing that a licence is an important aspect of any candidate’s driver.

Check they can drive

Some people who offer to drive candidates think they are good drivers. This should be checked. One present MP once told me that a local member offered to drive the candidate around during the general election.

The relationship lasted approximately 2 days, one for the candidate to learn that the white-knuckle ride was for real, then he recovered for a day whilst his agent arranged new transport.

Check the candidate and aide get on

Cars are enclosed spaces, and can become very fraught places if an event has gone badly or the timetable has become a fictional document. In one by-election I was involved in it is fair to say that the candidate and his aide were at daggers drawn by the end of the campaign.

This is best avoided and a redeployment of labour might be required if things cannot be resolved.

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