Agent’s Training 5 – Saving the Deposit!

Tim Farron MP

Tim Farron and Martin Allen ran around the car park to try to make sure we didn't lose my deposit!

One of the key things that any agent needs to remember is to save the deposit.  Historically this was set at 12.5%, between 1918 and 1985, but nowadays it is 5% and the deposit that you have to place with the returning officer is £500.

As an agent I have never lost a deposit, but in 1994 I was in serious danger of losing my deposit when I stood for the European Parliament, in Lancashire South.

The constituency did not offer an aspiring Liberal Democrat candidate a great deal of hope, because the area was made up from seven Labour/Conservative marginal seats.

The Labour MEP, Michael Hindley, had the benefit of incumbency and as the campaign started John Smith, the Labour Party leader, died, making the entire election campaign rather a sideshow.

The election before had delivered lost deposits for the Liberal Democrats, in the worst ever election campaign for the party, polling 6% nationally.

So, I, my agent, Tim Farron and my friend Martin Allen, arrived at Chorley Town Hall, where the election was being run from, to deliver my nomination papers to the returning officer, with some trepidation.

Chorley is a windy place, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a piece of paper fluttering across the car park.

Deposits do not need to be cash, you can use a bankers draft, and our draft, for £1000, which was the required amount for European Elections under first-past-the-post, was drifting gently, but purposefully, across the car park towards the main road.

After much running and flapping from my team, while I tried to remain calm, it was recovered, and safely lodged with the Returning Officer and eventually saved, comfortably, a few weeks later. I can’t remember if we had been seen by the elections staff in this dance macrabre around the car park, I certainly hope not.

If all agents had to feel the pain of their deposit drifting away across a car park it might make them keener to prevent them being lost.

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  1. Agent’s Training 8 – Winning at the Count! « Alter Ego…

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