Chris Fox to step down as Liberal Democrats’ Chief Executive

Following Chris Fox’s decision, announced today, to stand down as Chief Executive at the end of November, Nick Clegg and Tim Farron have praised the transformation he has brought to the party organisation.

Chris Fox took over the role of Chief Executive in July 2009. During his time in the role he has led on strategy and the air war and headed up the executive team during the General Election. Since then he has focused on modernising the party which culminated in a move to new high tech headquarters in the heart of Whitehall a week ago.

Chris Fox said:

It has been an enormous privilege and pleasure to serve the party as Chief Executive since July 2009 and as Director of Policy and Communications prior to that.

Stepping down from this role is one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but on a personal level I feel that now is the right time to move on.

There is no good time for changes like this, but one thing is clear: we need whoever is in place as Chief Executive at the beginning of 2012 to be in the job until 2015 at least – through to the next General Election and beyond.

Nick Clegg praised Chris Fox for bringing the organisation through one of the most challenging periods in the party’s history.

He said:

Chris has led the party machine through a General Election, our transition to government and through some major organisational and financial challenges. His achievements cannot be overstated and I am personally very grateful to him for his fantastic service to the party.

Chris has been a good friend and a major figure in the party for many years and I know that he will be sorely missed at every level of the party.

I wish Chris all the best for his future and draw confidence from the knowledge that he will always be involved in the party in one capacity or another.

Tim Farron said,

During his years as Chief Executive, Chris has led a process of root and branch modernisation of the party organisation, improving systems, process, transparency and efficiency into every area of our operations.

He has restructured several key functions, including our Policy, Communications, Campaigns and Marketing teams. He has transformed party fundraising, allowing us to raise record amounts for the last election. He has championed the introduction of new election software and recruited and nurtured a very strong central team.

Chris’ other lasting legacy is a modern party organisation, working from a fit for purpose new Headquarters.

As Party President, Tim Farron, together with Chair of the Federal Finance and Administration Committee, Duncan Greenland, will now lead the process of external recruitment for the new Chief Executive. It is hoped that the new recruit will be in place before the end of the year.

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20 Comments

  • Tony Dawson 5th Sep '11 - 3:05pm

    Is this effectively ‘falling on his sword’? The 2010 General Election campaign centrally was not effective and was only rescued ffrom potential disaster by the outstanding performance of Nick Clegg in the first televised debate. We await still, any serious independent Inquiry into that ‘event’.

  • Johnny LeVan-Gilroy 5th Sep '11 - 4:26pm

    Chris leaving is huge lose to the party. He’s done some great things and has a lot of vision. Enjoyed working with him on a few projects. Wish him all the best in the future.

  • Needs a dynamic Yank/Aussie/Canadian to come in…fresh outsider’s perspective and all that, I doubt if the party could afford anyone half-decent though….

  • Mark Inskip 5th Sep '11 - 6:54pm

    Yank/Aussie/Canadian!?

    We need some one who understands British Liberalism, understands campaigning and winning elections, understands the party organisation and sensitivities and has both strong a leadership and management pedigree

  • Tony Dawson 5th Sep '11 - 8:37pm

    “He’s done some great things and has a lot of vision. ”

    A smattering of hype, perhaps?

    Quite a lot of good things but no GREAT things have been done by anyone at all in the Liberal Democrats in the past few years – the exceptions, perhaps, being Nick Clegg’s first TV debate and Elwyn Watkins taking Phil Woolas to Court -and the collective action of those who made the Lib Dems take part officially in the anti-war march when so many powerful voices were screaming ‘No’?

  • Titley for CEO!

  • Liberal Neil 6th Sep '11 - 11:37am

    I broadly agree with Dave Hennigan.

    I’ve known Chris Fox a long time and I know that he has always been 100% dedicated to the party’s success, even if I don’t always agree with him on some policy issues.

    I think he has done a lot to improve the party organisation and I expect the HQ move etc. to pay dividends.

    Some mistakes were made, in my view the recent changes to the Campaigns Dept. were not handled well (although I broadly agree with what was done), and I think the balance has swung a little too far towards centralisation, although Chris R could be guilty of that too sometimes.

    Personally I don’t think the CE necessarily needs to understand campaigning themself. What they do need to do is to ensure that the party’s campaigning is run by people who do, and to understand that the party organisation as a whole, and at all levels, needs to be geared to supporting that campaigning.

  • Tony Dawson 6th Sep '11 - 2:00pm

    There is much to pursue in David and Neil’s postings. These matters should be discussed elsewhere..

  • Patrick Smith 6th Sep '11 - 5:42pm

    Clearly the Party has to move on and appoint a new Chief Exec. and it has to be someone with campaigning zeal,nous and clarity of vision in winning Elections over the coming years.

    I accept that Chris Fox was a very skilled operator with a string of achievements against his name, not least raising funding and donations from supporters,businesses and fellow travellers.

    I wish his successor well but the acid test is winning Elections and moving the Liberal Democrat vote upwards again and will remain the key challenge.

  • Tony Dawson 6th Sep '11 - 8:22pm

    “Is it the Chief Exec’s job to win elections? ”

    I have a sneaking feeling that no one actually knows whose job it is in the Lib Dems to win elections. The Leader can play a part. The Campaigns Department can play a part. But who are the best people to determine what, when and how which messages should be assembled and delivered in an election campaign? They are probably spread all over the country.

    SOME of our Party’s best political brains may be MPs. SOME of them may work for various bits of the Party. But a number of MPs MPs inherited seats which were fought for years ago by other, possibly sharper, political operators. Of course, the skills require to pick the themes and deliver them to win constituency elections may not be those which help gain a wider vote in third place in hundreds of constituencies – if that is what we want. But do we? Those people who want more centralisation in this party presume a great deal. They presume that the centre is or will be where the political skills are. These are very differnt from organisational/electoral skills, although there may sometimes be an overlap.

  • Tony – yes, we do want to widen the base where we are third. That is, if we wish to win an election on a majority. Of course it would be easier to continue campaigning constituency by constituency, and we could possibly make somewhat more progress like that (assuming our leadership didn’t put their collective feet in it too much!) But ultimately a large enough number of people need to be convinced that we “have what it takes” on a national basis. We are a long way from that at present.

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