Category Archives: Party policy and internal matters

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

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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Holding out for a liberal hero

Every year at Conference I get the chance to thank the people in our Party that have given the most.

They’re people who have worked tirelessly in their local area to make sure liberal voices are heard – or people who have given years of time and support as councillors or council leaders.

They’re political assistants to council groups who support Lib Dems in local government with all the valuable work they do.

And they’re local parties who have worked to increase representation of ethnic minorities in everything they do.

This is your chance to let me know who we should be rewarding. Click here for an information pack.

You have until 31st July to get in touch and nominate a Party member you know has given a huge amount to the Party.

This is a great chance to make sure our ordinary members are recognised for all the fantastic work they have done for the Party. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Liberal Democrat Party Awards Pack 2013 by Liberal Democrat Voice

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Choosing a better candidate – some ideas to make it happen

Tim FarronMark PackLiberal Democrats are well used to arguing for changes in how our public elections are run, because we know the rules you use for a contest have a big impact on how desirable its outcomes are. That isn’t just about the voting system (important though that is!) but also a question of who gets the vote, how much influence those with money to spare can wield and so on.

It is just the same with the rules for our own …

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English Council, 15 June – our man in Luton reports…

This is a report of the meeting of the Liberal Democrats English Council, held on Saturday at University College London.

The English Council is the governing body of the Liberal Democrats in England and meets twice a year to consider matters of importance to the English Party.

Speech from Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg at English Council - 15 June 2013The day started with a speech from the Deputy Prime Minister. Before heading off to chair meetings at the G8, Nick Clegg had stopped into University College London to give a message of optimism to …

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Statement from Nick Clegg on the Morrissey Report

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has made this statement following the release of Helena Morrissey’s independent report into processes and culture within the Liberal Democrats and her recommendations for change:

I’m very grateful to Helena Morrissey for her very thorough report.

It makes sobering reading. It shows that stretching over a 20 year period a series of mistakes were made which left a number of women feeling seriously let down and for that there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever.

The report also shows that the individuals who dealt with their complaints had the right motives, but there weren’t the right processes

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Morrissey Inquiry into Party processes and culture

Liberal Democrat Chief Executive Tim Gordon has just emailed Party members about the Helena Morrissey Report, published at 4pm today:

Today Helena Morrissey published the report of her independent inquiry into allegations made in February that the Party had failed to respond adequately to complaints and warnings of alleged sexual harassment.

You can find Helena’s full report here.

The report concluded – and the Party has accepted – that, despite recent improvements, and despite the fact that the report is clear that those with whom issues were raised acted in good faith, it failed to deliver the procedures needed in a modern

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Duncan Hames MP writes… Help shape Party policy in two new working groups

The Federal Policy Committee is advertising for members for two new policy working groups: Reform of Public Services, and Tackling Crime and Reform of the Criminal Justice system.

The Public Services group will look at overarching issues relevant to all public services, including themes like decentralisation and user empowerment, and also address specific policy issues in major services like education and health.

The other group will look at all aspects of preventing and reducing crime and the fear of crime, through the whole range of policy interventions.

Both groups are expected to produce policy papers for the Autumn 2014 party …

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Liberal Youth Elections 2013… Finance Officer: Rory Roberson

Writing this in the wake of running an election campaign in Worcestershire I can say with little doubt that money is absolutely vital for the smooth running of a campaigning force and Liberal Youth desperately needs to become a better campaigning force.

But first a little about myself, I have been involved in politics for a number of years now and have been involved in a full campaign a year since joining the party at Aberystwyth University in 2009, a trend that looks as if it will not finish anytime soon. As well as this I have …

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Liberal Youth Elections 2013… England Convenor: Stuart Wheatcroft

I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats since the end of 2005. Despite this, I had no serious involvement with Liberal Youth until early 2012. Liberal Youth was not an effective organisation nationally, and in my area it was non-existent.

A huge amount of progress has been made. Liberal Youth’s contribution to the campaign in Eastleigh has been widely recognised. The momentum has been continued through the Gold Guard project, with action days in key seats around the country and a huge membership engagement push at every level of the organisation. More must be done, but there has been …

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Liberal Youth Elections 2013…England Convenor: Rich Clare

Rich ClareIt’s that time of year again – time for the young Liberals to choose their executive. I’m standing for Convenor of LY England and I have two main aims: to protect and expand Liberal Youth’s resources by promoting us within the Federal and English parties, and to turn us into more of a campaigning force across the country. Although I have two years’ experience as branch chair in Sheffield Hallam, I am not part of the LY ‘clique’ – if I become the new Convenor, I will be a fresh …

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Liberal Youth Elections 2013… Chair: Callum Leslie

Callum Leslie reclaim the nightFor the past 18 months, I’ve been wrestling with the possibility of leaving the party. As the party leadership continues to ignore party policy and members’ wishes, we have to sit through the bedroom tax, secret courts, the NHS debacle, shares for rights, tuition fees and more. The position of conference as the sovereign body of the party by which all are bound is all but extinguished.

About two weeks ago, I came to a realisation. Having been a party member since I was 14 and a candidate …

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