This is a report of the meeting of the Liberal Democrat’s English Council held last Saturday (17th November 2012) 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.
Review of Police and Crime Commissioner elections campaign
The main topic of discussion at this meeting was how the English Party should respond to the Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
There was general agreement that the way the Party had handled the run up to these elections had been, shall we say, less than ideal. There was also a wide-ranging discussion about who was to blame for the mistakes that were made. While the Chair of the English Council Executive had made clear in his report that the bodies of the English Party should admit to their share of the responsibility, there was particularly pointed criticism of the role of the Federal Executive from members in the meeting.
However, the general feeling, something explicitly expressed by several who spoke, was that the priority was to look forward and learn the lessons of this experience. One point that I heard several people make was that the Party lacks the structures it needs to organise and fight elections that take place across traditional constituency boundaries. There was a strong desire to find ways that could be address this weakness.
The upshot of this is that the business motion from Western Counties region asking for a review of the organisational arrangements made by the party for these elections was passed with only one vote against. So the English Party will now be setting up a working party to carrying out a thorough review and make recommendations for the future.
The other issues that I had highlighted in my previous post previewing the agenda for this meeting all went as expected.
The financial reports and motions were passed without much disagreement or discussion. The changes to the rules for the advertising of candidate selection that were needed to take account of Party HQ’s decision to close Liberal Democrat News were also agreed.
We also had an excellent keynote speech from Stephen Lloyd the MP for Eastbourne.
Of the three motions proposing amendments to the constitution of the English Party two were passed, the third was deferred for further consultation. This included approval of the amendment that proposed changing the basis on which the membership of the English Council is determined. This means that for next year the membership of the English Council will increase to a fixed size of 150 members. The allocation of those members to the regions and Liberal Youth will be done in proportion to their membership.
* Andy Strange is a member of the Lib Dems' English Council. He blogs at Strange Thoughts.