Author Archives: Duncan Greenland

The Lib Dem Leadership election: Can we please now just get on with it?

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There may originally have been good reason not to proceed with the Lib Dem leadership election this spring at the height of the uncertainty as to how the Covid-19 pandemic was going to progress,but with hindsight it was quite wrong to announce a postponement of twelve months or more.

For the whole of this year so far, Ed Davey has been able to speak only as “interim co-leader”and as a result the impact of the Lib Dem contribution to reasoned critique of the government’s performance has been significantly diminished, as has the effectiveness of our input to proposals for radical policy change as our society and our economy recover from lockdown. In this time of national crisis we are missing the clear Liberal voice of an elected Party Leader able to speak and negotiate with authority on behalf of the whole party.

The Federal Board should please decide at its next meeting to hold the leadership election just as soon as it is possible to put in place the arrangements necessary for virtual hustings and for a robust voting system.

I am told that the Federal Conference committee is well on the way to finding a way to hold the Autumn Party Conference virtually, including software to enable votes on-line. If those conference logistics can be handled, it should also be quite feasible to arrange for a series of virtual Leadership hustings, for a robust combination of electronic and postal voting,and for the distribution of manifestos by post and email as usual. Why not give the candidates a say in the structure and detailed regulations of the campaign to allay any concerns that the novel format could favour any one candidate over another? And why not maintain a traditional feature of past leadership campaigns by giving some virtual events a regional or a specific policy focus ?

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Maximising the number of pro-European MPs

Not just Liberal Democrats but small “l” liberals in all political parties should welcome the opportunity the June General Election will provide for voters to make clear their priorities by voting for candidates committed to the fight for us to maintain a continued close relationship with Europe.

In this increasingly uncertain world, there is nothing more important than that.

Those candidates will not just be Liberal Democrats.

If we want to maximise the strength of the opposition to May’s “hard Brexit”, the Lib Dems should have the courage to concentrate their limited resources on their candidates in seats that we can win this time ,which means making hard decisions about not squandering time,energy and money in seats that we cannot.

If we want to make a reality of any version of a progressive alliance, the Liberal Democrats cannot expect Labour to stand aside in some seats (or decide to make only a token effort )unless we are also prepared to stand aside (or make only a token effort) in selected seats where a pro-European Labour candidate has a very much better chance.

It will go against the grain – but it must be done!

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