@ALDEParty Congress: Days 2 and 3 – the end, in more ways than one…

The count had taken place, the results were known. All that was left was to announce them, and that was the point where Congress went wrong for the Liberal Democrats.

In a shock result, Ros Scott was unsuccessful in her quest to be re-elected. It was an outcome that nobody had expected, with the exception of the candidate herself, leaving the ALDE Party Bureau without a British member for the first time in living memory.

Jonathan Fryer, blogging after the event, suggested that;

…it looks as if Brexit was a factor, for which Theresa May and her UKIPTory government are to blame. Britain has become the embarrassing member of the European Family, the drunk uncle who offends everyone and knocks the furniture over. Of course Ros has never behaved like that herself; far from it. But many of our EU partners are sick to the back teeth with Britain, not least the post-2004 newcomers of formerly Communist central and Eastern Europe, who were not around when Britain was a force for good in the EU (c.f. Lord Cockfield and the implementation of the single market).

And he could well be right. I’m also reminded of what I wrote thirteen months ago;

One thing that I think will be important over the next year or so is to evolve our approach towards our European sister parties in the light of Brexit. Assuming that Article 50 is invoked, our delegation to ALDE Party Congresses will have no formal say over the manifesto for the 2019 European Parliamentary elections. That means that we need to take a more conciliatory view, looking to take a more broadly European than narrowly British view. It also means showing a little more self-awareness than some of our delegates have in the past. We need to be seen as helpful, not obstructive.

There is no doubt that the ALDE Party has changed in recent years, with new and significant voices emerging in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, parties that we haven’t had strong links with. Perhaps we haven’t changed with it.

The result put a bit of a damper on the last day, with the resolutions the only significant agenda item on the Sunday, and they were concluded early that day. The result of moving the announcement of the results forward to the Saturday evening was the absence of a ‘big finish’ to Congress, with only a roundtable on security and a training session left to occupy delegates before they headed back to their home countries.

It left the Liberal Democrat delegate with much to ponder, especially given their now reduced circumstances. What remains to be seen is how the Party’s Federal International Relations Committee will respond to the result, if indeed it appreciates that this may be a turning point in its relationship with the ALDE Party.

* Mark Valladares was a member of the Party’s delegation to this year’s ALDE Party Congress.

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3 Comments

  • Mick Taylor 5th Dec '17 - 9:03am

    It appears from initial discussion that FIRC seems unlikely to change its approach. The irony is that Ros lost BECAUSE we were good Europeans and cast votes for other candidates for the bureau. Had we been UK centric and only voted for Ros, she would have been re-elected, but at the cost of our relationship with many ALDE member parties.

  • Gordon Lishman 5th Dec '17 - 9:16am

    Isn’t the greatly reduced size of the British delegation also a factor? Very sorry that Ros wasn’t elected – she deserved to win more than several former Brits on he Bureau.

  • OnceALibDem 5th Dec '17 - 8:03pm

    I don’t understand why Liberals in Europe should base their votes for a British Liberal on what a Conservative politician once did. If they do then the dividing line is the mythical “being a good European” rather than (IMO more important) ‘are they a Liberal’.

    If it was important that the Bureau had a British member then the British delegation should have organised on that basis. If it wasn’t (and I’m not totally sure why it should be on an internationalist body) then the point doesn’t really matter.

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