Category Archives: Party policy and internal matters

Anything to do with Lib Dem internal business, including policy development, consultations, rules and constitutions.

Lib Dem Party Committee election results

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderThe Lib Dems have this evening announced the results of the elections to its Party Committees as voted for by conference representatives. Congratulations to all elected; commiserations to those who weren’t.

The lists of those elected (and not), ordered by first preference votes, follows…

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My proudest day as a Liberal Democrat

fordham and eaglingAccording to the cash receipt slip I was given by the membership secretary of Stanford and Spalding constituency local party I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats for 26 years 4 months and 25 days. I have experienced the lows and highs of losing and winning elections, I have been involved in conference debates, fringes, attending key speeches and declarations, delivering leaflets, knocking on doors, influenced government policies, and when I married Russell Eagling on 5th July this year I was the direct beneficiary of the Liberal Democrats in Government.

Yet today Tuesday 18th November 2014 will go down as one of the days on which I was proudest to be a Liberal Democrat. The two instances could not be more related and yet more different.

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Shirley Williams promotes Community Award in memory of West Midlands student

Shirley Williams groupCommittee member of West Midlands Lib Dem Youth and local party diversity officer, Stephen Sherwood died aged 25, earlier this year. Despite having two kidney transplants and losing his sight, Stephen was involved in his local community and planned to stand for Herefordshire Council in 2015. Everyone who met him was amazed by his ambition and determination to overcome the obstacles that life had thrown at him.
Herefordshire Lib Dems have launched a new community award competition in memory of Stephen.

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Information on party committee candidates

libby on the wall3Calderdale Liberal Democrats punch above their weight when it comes to enhancing the internal democratic processes of the party.

Leading up to our conferences, we see Calderdale Lib Dems positively gushing forth with amendments to motions. They even offer to help other local parties with amendments if needed.

Local party chair Jennie Rigg is now helping party democracy in an extra way. Where she can contact them, Jennie is putting a series of questions to each candidate in the Liberal Democrat committee elections.

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Opinion: Transparency and Openness from the FCC

On Saturday afternoon conference voted overwhelmingly for more engagement by members through OMOV, and for transparency and accountability from the party and its committees, in order to nourish this engagement. The amendment, put forward by Mark Pack, Duncan Brack, and others was purposeful and helpful, and made clear that we need to make sure that the party is more accountable to members. The party needs to show its firm intent to follow up on this motion as soon as it can, preferably for endorsement by spring conference next year, so that our next autumn conference operates as members wish.

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Liberal Youth Elections 2014… Policy Officer: Ryan Mercer

liberalyouthLiberal Youth policy matters. It’s how we, as young Liberal Democrats, can make a clear and credible case for change on the issues we care about. The disengagement from politics by so many young people has made it easy for the views of our generation to be overlooked. Despite this, the Liberal Democrats have long been the strongest advocates in both tackling the challenges young people face and building the future society in which we want to live. The unique perspective Liberal Youth provides can help to ensure the party will continue to listen to young people and be that advocate for our generation.

In May, I stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate in a Norwich City Council Ward formerly held by Norman Lamb MP. The ward has a young population and standing gave me a real insight into how big a challenge we face showing other young people what we stand for and that we’re on their side.

I’m standing as a candidate for Liberal Youth Policy Officer partly because I believe in the essential role that Liberal Youth policy needs to play, but also because I believe more has to be done to engage our members in our policy making. With more young members adding their voices our policies will be better informed and have the support behind them to be taken seriously.

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Liberal Youth Elections 2014… Membership Development Officer: Naomi Farhi

liberalyouthVoter apathy has never been higher  among students and young people.

Liberal Youth should be a clear voice in a political wilderness.

To the disillusioned youth, politics appears to be a static and increasingly wearisome battlefield, with each side wasting a lot of time and gaining very little ground. Many cannot see the progress that is being made by groups just like Liberal Youth.

It is my vision to make this progress clear.

I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2013 because I was fed up of entrusting the way my country is run to ‘people who knew better than me.’ Young people are the future and Liberal Youth is the voice of a future where equality and fair treatment is achievable for all. I am willing to invest my time and energy in ensuring this will happen – but we need others to do this too.

That is why I am running for Membership Development Officer. As a previously politically apathetic young person, I understand why so many are feeling left out of the picture and I believe I know how to make them feel included. I am now Press and Publicity Officer for the Cambridge Student Liberal Democrats and currently organising our representation at the Freshers’ Fair, which means appealing to over 15,000 students. As such, I am accustomed to dealing with a wide pool of potential members.

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A reminder: It’s Party awards time!

key_awards1A quick reminder of this message from Tim Farron, originally posted last month

It’s that time of year again when members decide who should be in line for an award at Conference.

It could be someone who has worked tirelessly in their local area to elect Liberal Democrats or implement our policies or someone who has given years to our cause by working hard as councillors or candidates.

Maybe a political assistant to a councillor or someone who has supported a local MP in the hard work that they do.

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ASD Lib Dems: Reducing Barriers to Activism

Autism Awareness Ribbon, Colorful Puzzle Pieces,  Free Creative Commons Public Domain DownloadThe Lib Dems are currently at around 8-11% in the polls, and with c.20,000 fewer members of the party than in 2010, with less than a year to one of the most important General Elections that this party has faced since we were formed. But it is within this time period of emotional stress and exhaustion where tempers are frayed and relationships between people are made and indeed broken.

Since the formation of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Lib Dems I have had several members come up to me explaining how they would like to help their local party but feel totally unable to go canvassing despite wishing to do so. Whilst everyone on the spectrum is different – no two people are the same – there are some common areas of difficulty such as picking up non-verbal clues, lack of empathy and memory.

photo by:
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Lib Dem party membership: the occasional ups and mostly downs since 1988

The Lib Dems published the party’s 2013 accounts this week. The report included the latest membership figures, which showed for the first time since 2010 an increase on the previous year’s: up 2% to 43,451. Here are the Lib Dem membership figures since the modern party’s formation as the successor to the Liberal Party and SDP in 1988:

lib dem membership figs since 1988 - as at july 2014

For interest’s sake, here’s the increase/decrease in party membership under each leader:

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Lib Dems publish latest accounts: £439k surplus and membership up to 43,451

Libby - Some rights reserved by David SpenderThe latest set of accounts for the Lib Dems have been published – I’ve uploaded it at the foot of this post. (You can compare it with last year’s here.) Here are 5 points that struck me I read through the document.

1) Party bounces back from deficit to surplus

Last year, the Lib Dems recorded a deficit of £410k (described then as a “disappointing result”). This year (ie, the year ending 31 Dec 2013), the party has recorded a healthy overall surplus of £439k, with £7.3m of income and £6.9m of expenditure.

photo by: NCVO
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Lib Dems need to stick their head above the parapet on immigration and asylum seekers #slfconf

Immigration breakout Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterLiberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary held a thoughtful and impassioned break-out session at the Social Liberal Forum conference today.

Suzanne Fletcher gave some interesting updates from her key involvement in the recent policy working party on Immigration, Asylum and Social Cohesion. Suzanne stressed how important it is for policy-makers to get their terminology right. Illegal immigrants get mixed up with asylum seekers. Asylum seekers get confused with refugees. Deportation gets conflated with removal. It’s not just the Daily Mail …

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Opinion: Does our party’s structure and constitution need an overhaul?

Liberal Democrat Conference 2011There are many issues facing the Liberal Democrats at the moment and there has been much discussion about these issues. But one which has been overlooked, in my opinion, is the need to apply our traditional enthusiasm for constitutional reform to ourselves

At the moment the structure of the party is essentially a replica of a national political system. We have constituencies of local parties whose members (the voters) elect a local government in the form of a party executive and who also elect voting representatives (MPs) by proportional representation to send to conference (parliament) where they in turn elect the Federal Executive and the Federal Policy and Conference

photo by: NCVO
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Local and European campaign review

Fortis Green by-election 2004: volunteers at work stuffing envelopesAs Chair of the Party’s democratically-elected Campaigns & Communications Committee, Nick Clegg has asked me to conduct a review into the Local and European election campaign and result. I will be joined in doing this work for Nick by a small group comprised of Cllr. Abi Bell of Hull City Council, Cllr Ruth Dombey – Leader of Sutton Borough Council, and George Lyon – former MEP for Scotland.

I have spoken to Nick and we have agreed that this review will be a full …

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Stephen Lotinga appointed as Nick Clegg’s new Director of Communications

stephen lotingaReaders may recall the rather brief tenure of Emma Gilpin-Jacobs as Nick Clegg’s Director of Communications – she left after a few weeks in the job “because my strategic global, corporate-focused communications experience will be better utilised in a less day-to day-political operational role”.

Her replacement has now been appointed. Here’s how Nick’s chief of staff, Jonny Oates, announced the news:

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Lord Navnit Dholakia appointed as Chair of the Diversity Engagement Group

Some rights reserved by Keith EdkinsIt’s been announced tonight that Baroness Sal Brinton is stepping down as Chair of the Diversity Engagement Group. Nick Clegg paid tribute to her work in the role:

Her hard work and dedication have clearly demonstrated the commitment of the party to becoming more representative of British society, and ensuring that the targets set for increased diversity are met. The Leadership Programme is a significant and important part of that dynamic, giving outstanding candidates from under-represented groups the skills that they will need to win seats in

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A longer read for the weekend: How important will incumbency be to the Lib Dems in 2015?

Liberal Democrat badge - Some rights reserved by Paul Walter, Newbury, UKLast year I wrote a piece, So, about that Lib Dem wipeout in 2015 then…, highlighting that – though the polls are grim for the Lib Dems – the assumption of many pundits that this will automatically translate into Lib Dem annihilation at the next election is flawed.

That brief analysis was based on looking at the lists of Lib Dem-held seats that Labour and the Tories are targeting. Now Craig Johnson from Newcastle University has taken a more …

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Lib Dem Deputy Leader election: result expected today at 7pm

Three Lib Dem MPs hope that by this evening they will be elected Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems – the post was vacated by Simon Hughes when he was appointed Justice Minister. The three competing for the post are (in strict surname order) Gordon Birtwhistle, Sir Malcolm Bruce and Lorely Burt.

The electorate is comprised of their fellow MPs – technically the post is Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons, though only the first two words of the title are commonly used – with the wider party membership getting to choose the Party President (for which there will also be a vacancy later this year when Tim Farron’s second two-year term expires).

We’ll find out the result this evening, but to whet your appetite the BBC has this two-minute profile of the runners and riders…

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Suspension of Lord Rennard

The Liberal Democrats have just issued this statement:

Nick Clegg made clear last week, and again this morning, that it would be inappropriate for Lord Rennard to resume the Liberal Democrat whip unless he apologises. Lord Rennard has refused to do so.

The Regional Parties Committee, which oversees disciplinary procedures under the English Party membership rules, today decided to suspend Lord Rennard’s membership of the party pending a disciplinary procedure. As such, he cannot return to the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords.

Lord Rennard will now be investigated for bringing the party into disrepute on the grounds of his failure

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Internal investigation into Lord (Chris) Rennard: new statement issued by Alistair Webster QC

On Wednesday, Alistair Webster, the QC appointed by the party to examine the evidence in the disciplinary case being considered against Lord (Chris) Rennard, released this statement explaining his investigation.

A further statement has just been released today:

“In view of the extensive comment which has followed my statement, and in view of some of the statements made by those directly concerned, I wish to make the following quite clear:

“1. My report to the RPC has not been provided to any other party for one reason only: the Committee had unequivocal advice from independent solicitors that to publish it without

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Internal investigation into allegations against Lord Rennard

Statement of Alistair Webster QC’s conclusions
Following allegations made in a Channel 4 documentary early in 2013 I was appointed under Rule 7.6 of the English Party’s membership rules to investigate and determine whether or not it was appropriate to charge Lord Rennard with acting in a way that had brought the party into disrepute. The charge, if proved, might warrant his expulsion from the Liberal Democrats or other sanction under the Party’s rules.

Let me be clear from the outset that the evidence suggests that Lord Rennard’s behaviour has caused distress to a number of women, so much so that they came forward several years after the events in question.

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Only 2 days left to have your say on Spring Conference

Last Friday, James Gurling asked for party members’ views on the future of Spring Conference. These have to be submitted by Friday 29th November, so this is a reminder to make sure you have your say before then. Janes’  article is reproduced in full below:

As part of the budget setting process, earlier this year, the Federal Executive were asked to look at how the Party runs its Spring Conference and the costs it incurs. With pressures on Party finances as they are, the challenge was therefore to look at how to make spring conference, at worst, a ‘break-even’ event.

From

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The future of Lib Dem Spring conference – how to have your say by 29th November

As part of the budget setting process, earlier this year, the Federal Executive were asked to look at how the Party runs its Spring Conference and the costs it incurs. With pressures on Party finances as they are, the challenge was therefore to look at how to make spring conference, at worst, a ‘break-even’ event.

From the start, FE recognised that answering this challenge involved potentially significant changes to Spring Conference, and produced a paper which looks at three broad options – continuing as we do with a two day spring conference (and seeking to make cost …

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Is it right to expand a Local Party by a third?

Following changes to the English Party’s rules regarding the formation of Local Parties, in a number of places, local Liberal Democrats are being asked to decide upon new boundaries in their area. Here, our former day editor, Paul Walter, raises some of the issues that members will need to consider.

On December 7th, Newbury local party members will have a proposed constitutional amendment before them at our AGM, which I think other local parties have also faced. If passed, this motion would expand the local party area to include the six West Berkshire Council wards (Birch Copse, Calcot, Pangbourne, Purley on …

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A Liberal Democrat membership revolution

We know that the Liberal Democrats, in common with other parties, have  been looking at declining membership figures for some years now. Tim Farron alluded to this in his conference speech at the weekend.

Three times as many people entered the X Factor this year than joined a political party.

In the Liberal Democrats it has been a tough three years. People have not felt confident about recruiting members because of the wider political environment. Also, many local parties feel that there is no incentive to put time and effort into recruitment when there is little or no reward for them. …

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Planning Consultation

Houses being builtPlanning policy is a crucial issue for Liberal Democrats. We believe in supporting and strengthening local communities – and the development of the built environment locally, and residential, business and other opportunities on offer, is critical to that. We believe that the revised National Planning Policy Framework has defined the broad parameters of the planning process, but we have further aspirations for our planning system to deliver strategic vision both nationally and locally.

The Liberal Democrats Communities & Local Government Parliamentary Committee – chaired by myself and Lord (Graham) …

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Interim Peers Panel reform – missing the main question?

Nestling near the top of the second page of the Federal Executive’s consultation paper about how the party’s new members of the House of Lords are appointed (pdf) is a little three letter word which is central to the issue.

It talks about the party’s current Interim Peers Panel system, whereby conference representatives elect a group of names – of which I was one last time round – and to which are added a group of people by dint of previous offices they have held, such as former MPs.

That little word is “can”, as in this is …

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Help develop Party policy in two new working groups

The party’s Federal Policy Committee has recently decided to commission policy working groups on the implications of an ageing society (to be chaired by Paul Burstow MP) and on equalities (covering all the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act).

These groups will be writing policy papers intended for debate at the party’s Autumn 2014 conference and will need to start work as soon as possible.

We are very dependent on the voluntary efforts of our members to bring their time, fresh ideas and clear thinking to our policy working groups.

I’d like members, especially those who can often be …

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Tim Farron MP writes… Helena Morrissey report update

The Helena Morrissey report was incredibly difficult reading for our party. Facing up to the reality that the party that I love and joined at 16 had not always lived out its values is painful. But throughout this process my top priorities have always been the people affected, getting to the truth, ensuring justice and making certain that we enact every single recommendation of Helena Morrissey’s report. That’s why I wanted to give you an update on the work we have done to put Helena Morrissey’s recommendations into practice.

Since the report was published, I have made efforts on …

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Change of venue for Autumn Conference 2014

There have been some changes to Liberal Democrat Conference in Autumn 2014.

We had originally been due to go back to Liverpool next year. However, our conference fell immediately before the Scottish referendum on September 18. In view of this we have had to move our conference to a different date so as not to interfere with campaigning for the referendum. This has also meant changing venues as Liverpool did not have any suitable availability. Instead, Glasgow are able to accommodate us, so we are pleased to be returning there.

Federal Conference Committee didn’t take this decision lightly and we …

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