Author Archives: Christine Jardine MP

Christine Jardine writes: A president who listens

Waiting for the outcome of the nomination count for Party President felt a wee bit like that scene from The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon explains about Schrodinger’s Cat.

You know, where as long as the box is closed the cat is both dead and alive.

The relief when they cat was actually alive, and I was nominated, was huge.

Now is when the work really starts, in listening to what you want from your new President, and whether I fit the bill.

I have no illusions about how much work is involved, or what it will take to continue to build the wide movement we all want.

But I also know how important it is that the membership has a strong, clear, effective voice. A president who speaks for the members, but more importantly, one who listens to what they want and communicates that to the leadership.

We have a fantastic team at HQ with so many bright, capable people whether it’s in campaigns, fundraising, policy or the press team.

I see the President’s role there as facilitating what they do.

Not directing the operation, after all they are the ones with the expertise, but supporting and making sure that they have what they need from the party infrastructureMost of all I see the President as the link between the members, the staff, the parliamentarians and the public

Communication is the key, both within the party and to the outside world.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Christine Jardine: why I’m running to be Party President

Ok. I know I said that I wasn’t going to do it.

And as recently as conference I was adamant that I was not going to change my mind.

But I have.

The first thing of course that I have to say is that I am sorry for the delay and to explain that it was a family thing.

It’s well known that my husband died during the General Election in circumstances which were difficult, particularly for my daughter and the people close to me.

I’m sure you all appreciate that without her support I would have found it impossible to put the time, energy and commitment into this that the members deserve.

And those are three things that this role will need. In spades.

At a time when we have become the rallying point for the vast numbers of people in this country looking for an open, diverse, forward looking party, we need a President who has the status and authority to speak to that image publicly.

Just as importantly they will have to commit the time to listening to what the members have to say, and then ensure it is heard. Personal contact and availability will be key.

But members also need the right support and encouragement. The Alderdice report challenged us to create a culture that is inclusive. That is more important now than ever.

We cannot allow any possibility of retreating to what was comfortable and easy for some members and excluded others.

The President will have to lead, with all the committees and SAOs, on reaching out to those new members and build relationships which will sustain the next generation of activists, councillors and parliamentarians.

As a member of Federal Board, an MP and previously a member of the executive of the Scottish party, I know how hard Sal has worked and exactly what it takes to be a strong president.

I have no illusions about what it entails.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 10 Comments

Christine Jardine MP writes….Let’s invite people in who want to help us build a movement

It was when Charles Kennedy was standing to be leader that I found it most frustrating not to be a member.

I had supported the Liberal Democrats since I was old enough to vote.

Here was a man whose political ideals epitomised what I believed in and I desperately wanted him to leader.

But I couldn’t do anything to help him, or support the party.

I was a journalist. I worked for the BBC, often covered politics and, throughout my career, my impartiality had to be transparent.

When I was eventually able to join the party it was at a point in my career where I had moved away from reporting.

It still took some time to persuade my husband that there would be a professional life after joining and, significantly, that it would not damage his career or reflect on him.

If only there had been a supporters scheme then I could have been involved, voted for the leader and done my bit to help without jeopardising my livelihood.

And I was not alone in that.

I remember losing an active, and effective campaigner, in the highlands because he was promoted and his new role was politically restricted.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 11 Comments

Christine Jardine MP writes…We are simply the temporary guardians of their future

‘No taxation without representation’ was the call to arms which shook Westminster to its very core, and drove the American Revolution.

And yet nearly 250 years later here we are again. In this country today 16 and 17 year olds can pay tax and national insurance, and yet they have no say, no representation in how that money they contribute to the public purse is spent.

They can also get married and join the armed forces, but they cannot vote and have no say in our society’s decisions on their future. Yet, nobody has provided a reasonable explanation as to why. There have been plenty of excuses but no explanations.

It frustrates me because I have witnessed first-hand what a difference it makes to our politics, and what a contrast there is when sixteen and seventeen year olds join the debate.

On the eve of the European elections in May 2014, I spent the evening with a group of my daughter’s friends.

It was her 16th birthday. They knew I was involved in both the European elections and the forthcoming Scottish Independence Referendum campaign and wanted to chat.

The conversations I had that night were some of the most enlightened, challenging and informed of the entire European or Independence referendum campaigns.

At one point, I noticed that even though there was a constant stream of questions a few of the people were also all on their phones.

I was on the brink of being disappointed, when I discovered that they were actually texting other friends who were sending back their own questions to ask.

Imagine that? Young people so desperately keen to understand and be involved in the democratic process.

All of them engaged, all of them informed, all of them keen to make a positive difference and yet none of them entitled to vote the next day.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 3 Comments

A little part of who I am is struggling to survive

 

I feel as if a little part of who I am is struggling to survive. A little part that has been nurtured and has grown since, as a teenager, I marvelled at the liberal values and writings of Robert Kennedy and Dr Martin Luther King.

It’s the part that grew up regarding US history as testament that a people can use lessons of a divided past to create a society that offers opportunity for all.

And it’s the same part of me that’s always been so proud that I have family amongst those tired and huddled masses who were welcomed with open arms to a nation founded on that simple, yet beautiful, declaration:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

That’s the promise of the United States. A promise to which so many have trusted their futures, and their dreams. But it’s a promise that today seems under threat.

Perhaps not all are equally welcome.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

It’s about Hillary – not Michelle

voice_hillary-clinton

I was in the room normally used for phone banking when I heard the speech drifting in from the TV screen next door.

This was the Virginia Democrats office and I was listening to Michelle Obama.

The First Lady was laying out a clear argument for putting her friend Hillary in the White House.

To some extent I knew arguments already. I had watched the TV debates, listened to the commentators, heard Hillary surrogates tear apart Trump’s ‘locker room banter’ nonsense and soaked up every detail of the policies a Clinton Presidency would pursue.

But this was different.

Something in Michelle Obama’s message reminded me of why I got involved in politics in the first place.

Every word spoke to my convictions, my hopes, the dreams I fear my generation will fail to deliver for our children.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 23 Comments

What Corbyn winning means to me

I was at Inverurie Farmers’ Market when it happened. A stall holder crossed the market to tell me it was official.
Jeremy Corbyn had won.

I’m not sure what that Aberdeenshire farmer thought my reaction was, but I’m sure if he’d known what was actually going on in my head he would have been more than a little surprised.

It was ‘Thank Goodness. Thank Goodness for politics in this country, Thank Goodness for Liberal Democrats and Thank Goodness for all of us.’

Posted in Op-eds | 31 Comments

Opinion: You can allow airport expansion and protect the environment

Airport expansion equals controversy.

It sparks inevitable tensions between the demand for larger airports to fuel our economic growth, and concerns about the impact on the environment.

For those living closest to our major airports, especially Heathrow, those fears can be particularly acute as they endure current noise levels and view the prospect of increased traffic with dread.

And for Liberal Democrats it can often feel that our drive to create a stronger economy is being placed in direct opposition to our desire to protect our environment for future generations.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 10 Comments
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