This is the first in a series of articles about the work of party committees, written by current members. Each will provide insight into how a specific committee functions. We hope these articles will encourage party members to consider putting themselves forward for election.
The Party’s Federal Executive is responsible for directing, co-ordinating and implementing the work of the Federal Party. Right now, that makes it a pretty big job so if you have ideas on how we should be doing that, think about standing.
The committee has certain constitutional obligations from reports to conference to overseeing our accounts, you can read about all those in article 8 of the constitution. For those of you who don’t get a sexy vibe from constitutions (admit it, you aren’t alone – I promise) I normally summarise what the committee does by explaining that it is similar to the board of a company or a school governing body. Scale up or down depending on your perspective.
Like all the Party’s Federal Committees, the Federal Executive places the voice of members at its heart, so the number of directly elected places always outnumbers those who are appointed. It’s a sizeable committee with Federal Vice Presidents, two MPs, one peer, three state party reps, an MEP, the leader, and the President all on by dint of their position. Add in the directly elected and non voting members and you’ll see that you need to choose your moments to speak wisely. It is a busy room.
The Federal Executive has one formal sub-committee, the Federal Finance and Administration Committee (FFAC) which has its role laid out in the constitution. It oversees the party’s budget and makes sure we make ends meet. In that role it takes an active interest in the party’s fundraising too. This can mean taking some very very tough decisions in a tightening budget environment. So if you have experience of raising lots of money or making existing funds go further and scrutinising expenditure this may be the sub-committee for you. The non-appointed members of the FFAC’s membership are elected by the Federal Executive in its first meeting (January 2013 in case you’re interested!). This work may not be glamorous, but it is absolutely essential.
The Federal Executive also sends reps to the Campaigns and Communications Committee. This one isn’t enshrined in the constitution but it does perform an important role. Currently chaired by James Gurling it considers future electoral and communications strategy and reflects on recent results.
In recent years, places on the Campaigns and Communications Committee, on the Federal Finance and Administration Committee and on the Federal Executive have been hotly contested. This is a good thing for they take important decisions on behalf of all party members. These important decisions are not normally high profile ones. However, that changed for a few short days after May 2010. The Federal Executive, under its remit for strategic direction, was the part of the party that signed up to the coalition agreement. Alongside the parliamentary parties, we agreed it should go to a special conference – one where members such as many reading this took a decision about forming a government.
Nominations for the directly elected places for the Federal Executive are open now. Any current member of the Federal Executive should be able to answer any questions you may have (you can get their e-mail addresses from Rachael Clarke at [email protected]). Good luck!
If you would like to stand for any of the following Party Committees (Federal Executive, Federal Policy Committee, Federal Conference Committee, International Relations Committee, European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR) Council Delegation), you can log in to the Members section of the party website and download a nomination form here or contact the Returning Officer directly at [email protected]. You must be a party member to stand for these roles. The closing date for nominations is 3rd October 2012. Party Committees are elected by Federal Conference Representatives.
* Alison Goldsworthy is the Welsh Rep to the Federal Executive and its current Deputy Chair.