So you want to be the Prime Minister? It’s good to have ambition, but the road is long…
Unless you are close personal friends with her majesty and she has no qualms about causing a constitutional crisis, you’ll have to be elected to Parliament.
Your first step in this long road is to be British, Irish, or a citizen of a Commonwealth country with indefinite to remain (sorry, Uncle Sam). You also have to not be a judge, a civil servant, in police in the armed forces, a member of the House of Lords, or bankrupt (sequestered in Scotland) and be over 18.
If you satisfy all those criteria, you need to find yourself a party. An independent Prime Minister is a nice idea, but unworkable since ideally they would command a majority in Parliament, which is unlikely if you don’t have a whole party to get your back or a lot of charisma. At this point of time, your only realistic options are Labour and the Conservatives if you want the top job, so take your pick from those two- which one will pick will depend on your political leanings, or if you just plain want to get elected, whichever is most popular in your area. Given local parties dominate the scene in Northern Ireland, and Labour does not even stand there, you will probably have to move to Great Britain to stand a chance.
When you’ve joined a party, your next task is to get nominated for your party’s candidacy in a constituency. You will tell your local party association of your desire to stand and they will vote on the candidate they would most like to see nominated. In many cases, this will be the incumbent, so you might want to find a seat where the party hasn’t won but stands a good chance of winning. You will come up against others, so you will need to find a job lot of charisma, or a proven track record of being a great elected official, as a councillor, MEP, or member of the Welsh Assembly or Scottish Parliament to secure the nomination. Thus, this stage might take a good few years to come to fruition.
But, if eventually your party decides to nominate you, you must now contest the General Election. It’s a simple case of “most votes wins” in every constituency. Before you worry about that, you must stump up a £500 deposit to stand. You get it back if you get 5% of the vote, but it also means that the ballot paper doesn’t become overloaded with time wasters (or at least, only ones who can’t afford it-it doesn’t stop the Monster Raving Loonies).
Your strategy now depends on your constituency. Chances are, if your party reckons you are Number 10 material, your party will have put you into a safe seat, where there is a clear majority for your party and getting elected will be easy as long as you toe the party line and don’t do anything daft. Otherwise, you’ll have to fight for it by doing hustings with other candidates, sending out fliers, putting up posters, hoping your party leader doesn’t say anything stupid, kissing the odd baby, and balancing the party goals with your own convictions and the needs of the local area.
It’s a tough act, and much of the work will done by the bigwigs at your party, especially your leader and members of the (shadow) cabinet, who will influence voters in your constituency by varying degrees by their comments in the media.
You might find the public like you and your party’s vision. They might even give you the most votes. If so, congratulations! Your are now a member of Parliament. But there’s much more to do if you want that top job.