Author Archives: Mark Pack

Mark was the Liberal Democrat Head of Innovations until June 2009 and is now at Blue Rubicon. He also lectures at City University and is co-author of 101 Ways To Win An Election. He blogs at www.markpack.org.uk and is on Twitter as @markpack. He likes chocolate. Lots of it.

Mark Pack’s April report – What does a successful Westminster general election campaign look like?

Seats… and capacity

We may not yet know when the date of the Westminster general election will be. But we do know what success will look like.

For older readers, please think of 1983. For younger readers, please think of 2019. Neither of these Westminster general elections are remembered as a triumph for us or our predecessors. In 1983 we got 25% of the vote… but only 23 seats. In 2019, our vote share went up by a chunky 4%… but our seat tally fell by 1.

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Mark Pack’s March report

Why we need more council candidates

When we debate party policy, strategy or election tactics, questions about what might attract or put off voters often – and rightly – come up.

But there’s one sure-fire, 100% guaranteed, rock-solid way of repelling voters from us, and it’s one we use far too often.

It’s not having a Liberal Democrat on the ballot paper. Zero votes for the party guaranteed.

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The Party President on our long term plan

Mark Pack’s report for February:

A familiar trio

By now, you’re most likely very familiar with the idea that we are concentrating our campaigning for the next Westminster general election on the NHS, the cost of living and sewage. You may well have heard that on Zoom calls with our Chief Executive, seen it in leaflets you’ve delivered or said it yourself in conversations with voters.

The prime reason for this trio is the humility that’s essential for a political party in an electoral democracy: the humility to listen to voters and to take their concerns as the starting point of our …

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Mark Pack’s January report – Our positive vision versus Conservative desperation

Beating the Conservatives isn’t enough

That was the thrust of Ed Davey’s new year message, majoring on the importance of how our politics operates:

We must do nothing less than transform the nature of British politics for good.

Fight for a fair deal, that empowers everyone, and holds the already powerful to account.

Smash the two-party system, reform our elections, and give everyone an equal voice.

Because that is the only way we can build a fairer, greener, more caring country.

You can watch his new year message in full here.

But while that’s our positive message for the country…

Brace, brace, brace

When the newspapers appeared on the morning of 22 April 2010 there was a wall of negative front page stories about the Liberal Democrats. It was a well-timed hit, being the morning of the second TV debate in an election that had been upended by Nick Clegg’s performance in the first debate.

But there was a dirty secret behind those front page attacks which was only revealed when academics Phil Cowley and Dennis Kavannagh wrote a book about the election after. It was a secret about desperation on the part of the Conservatives: “All but one of the stories to feature on newspaper front pages that day came from the Conservatives”. Not that the papers told their readers this.

Nor did the stories stand up. Most notoriously the Daily Telegraph splashed that morning on its front page making claims about Nick Clegg’s bank account. Yet just a few hours later their chief political commentator and assistant editor was admitting he didn’t even know if anything wrong had happened. His admission that even he didn’t know if the allegations were true didn’t make that story, of course. Nor did he explain why his paper didn’t pause to research the story first rather than rushing to put in print what the Conservatives had handed them.

As Cowley and Kavanagh quoted a Cameron campaign source: “‘We did a pretty comprehensive job on them… However dirty it was… that was the machine swinging into action.”

Much has changed since 2010. But the willingness of Conservative HQ to do absolutely anything it takes to stay in power has not. We can expect them to brief negative stories about us continually.

It’s going to be a bracing year. But that shows we are a real threat to the Conservatives.

(And of course if you do see a story where you’re not sure what the full picture is or want to know the party’s response, do drop me a line on [email protected]).

A cracking quarter of council by-elections

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Mark Pack’s December report – the challenges of 2024

Bigger stakes, harder choices: general election year

It now looks pretty certain that 2024 will be a general election year. Or perhaps I should say that 2024 will have at least one Westminster general election, because if there is a close result…

We do, however, know for sure that regardless of what happens with general elections, there is an important round of local elections – and Police and Crime Commissioner contests – in May.

It will therefore be an important year in which everyone can play a part in our success, whether it is about winning a target local or Westminster seat near where you live, or helping to build up the party locally while supporting our target seats elsewhere.

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Mark Pack’s Monthly Report – Turning our policies into practical action

Getting council housing built

Congratulations to the Liberal Democrat team on Kingston Council who have just celebrated the completion of the first set of council flats for over 30 years in the area.

It’s another sign of how Liberal Democrat councils can both build high quality homes in the right places, and win elections – by turning our policies into practical actions to improve people’s lives.

Israel/Palestine

I know we have all been moved by the horrific news from the Middle East in the last few weeks. The bedrock of the Liberal Democrat approach is support for international law and for a …

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Mark Pack’s October report – let’s make it 5 in a row

You know what would be even better than four record book rewriting Parliamentary by-election wins in a row? Five.

That’s the opportunity we have with the Mid Bedfordshire by-election and our great candidate, Emma Holland-Lindsay. The issues that are big on the doorsteps are ones that will be familiar to us from campaigning all around the country – people feeling taken for granted by the Conservatives, worried about the cost of living and angry about the state of the NHS. And they think sewage should be sent to treatment plants rather than into our rivers and onto our beaches.

Polling day is 19 October and it’s absolutely one of those contests where people on the ground, talking to voters and visiting their letterboxes, will determine the outcome. It might have been a rock solid safe Conservative seat in the past, but no more!

What Have the Liberals Ever Done For Us?

That’s the title of an excellent new publication from the Liberal Democrat History Group. It comes with a preface by Ed Davey in which he says, “When you need to put your feet up after door-knocking, or to energise yourself for the next delivery round, read it to remember what we stand for and what we have done with the votes that people have lent us – and be inspired to campaign for even greater achievements in the future.”

More information about the new booklet is here and you can watch the launch event with Layla Moran, Sarah Olney, Wendy Chamberlain and Liz Barker here.

Bournemouth Conference

Many thanks to everyone who helped make such a success of our autumn conference, especially everyone who has contributed to our pre-manifesto, For A Fair Deal. That now gives us both a clear up-to-date prospectus of our overall policies and also (in the second chapter) sets our clearly our vision for the country.

If you missed out on our conference – or want to relive moments of it – you can (re)watch all the action on our website.

Conference kindly agreed the Board report, confirming the appointment of Tom Hood to the Federal Appeals Panel (FAP), and also passed our motion on the party’s finances for the next year. This froze our minimum membership subscriptions in recognition of the cost of living crisis and also included an agreed settlement with our three state parties on our mutual financial positions.

Answers to questions for the Board that were not taken in person at Bournemouth due to the time limits will appear on the party website as part of the conference reporting.

Our Party Awards winners

One of the best parts of the President’s role at our conferences is handing out our Party Awards to recognise the work of amazing colleagues around the country.

Our Bournemouth winners were:

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Mark Pack’s September report to members

Many unexpected events, good and bad, have happened to our party during this Parliament. If you’d asked me in January 2020, I don’t think any of us would have expected that three and a half years on, I could write a report to members about how our first-in person autumn Federal Conference this Parliament was coming up and about our chance to secure, just after it, our fifth Parliamentary by-election gain from the Conservatives.

It’s been quite the journey since our last in-person autumn conference. That was also in Bournemouth but back in the very different political times of 2019. We’re on the third Conservative Prime Minister of that time and – at time of writing (!) – seven Secretaries of State for Education.

But most importantly for our party, we’ve made huge progress since then in rebuilding our organisation and starting a sustained, long-term recovery.

We’ve made net gains in every round of council elections this Parliament. Alongside our four new MPs, we’ve also won control of more councils – taking the number of Lib Dem majority authorities to a tally higher even than it was before we went into government in 2010. We have a new scheme to support the new generation of candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds and we have a much expanded network of staff supporting grassroots campaigners right across the country. New, and much better integrated, website and email tools are being rolled out and, after over thirty years of people saying the Federal Board and its predecessors was too large, we finally did something about it.

But there’s much more still to do, starting with the need to turn that run of four by-election gains into a run of five next month. Find out more on how to help Emma Holland-Lindsay and the Mid-Bedfordshire by-election campaign on her website.

Rebuilding trust in politics

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Mark Pack’s monthly report to members

Hello, Mid Bedfordshire

We don’t yet know for sure about when a Mid Bedfordshire by-election will take place after Nadine Dorries redefined “immediately” with her promise to step down straight away turning into a longer-running saga. But there is an active Lib Dem campaign up and running for Emma Holland-Lindsay, with some lovely letter boxes to admire.

Please do help if you can, in person or remotely, as Sarah Dykes’s stunning victory in Somerton and Frome shows just what we can achieve when we pull together behind a by-election campaign. A huge thank you to everyone  who contributed to that victory, a great burst of national media coverage and creating an abundance of Sarahs in the Lib Dem Parliamentary party.

What we stand for

One thing we do know the date of for sure is our autumn federal conference coming up in Bournemouth in September. The agenda and policy papers have now been published, and registration is open for both in-person and online attendance.

The agenda includes our pre-manifesto document, For A Fair Deal. This is both an up-to-date summary of our overall policies across all the main areas, and also has in its second chapter our overall story about the sort of society we want and how to get there. Well worth a read whether you’re coming to conference or not.

I look forward to meeting many of you there or in Mid Bedfordshire.

The importance of residents’ surveys

I’ve just been reading an advance copy of a fascinating new book coming out later this year about our party, and this nugget of data leapt out at me:

“In 2010, in nearly two-thirds of Liberal Democrat target seats a substantial amount of effort was put into running resident surveys during the pre-election period. This figure dropped to just a quarter of target seats in 2019.”

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Mark Pack’s monthly report: Rishi Sunak’s (latest) mistake

With apologies for the delay in posting this – Ed

So much has happened in British politics in the last year, it’s easy to forget along the way that Rishi Sunak managed to lose a leadership election to Liz Truss. Having been selected for a safe seat, that was the first hard fought contest in the public’s eye that he had to contest. He lost, and lost badly. For all his career success, he isn’t very good at the basics of politics.

We saw that again with his decision to duck the House of Commons vote on the Privileges Committee’s verdict on Boris Johnson. The one hope for the Conservatives under Sunak is to show that they have really changed as a party, something that John Major managed to do, at least initially, after replacing Margaret Thatcher. But instead of using the vote to show his party is changed and that he’s serious about restoring probity to public life, Sunak ducked the opportunity. He’s Prime Minister of our whole country but driven by the internal myopic politics of a small number of his MPs.

Making the most of Sunak’s mistakes

Over the long history of our party and its predecessors, there are three things that have fuelled recoveries for our party: spectacular Parliamentary by-election wins, brilliant May local elections, and foreign policy disasters such as Suez and Iraq.

The first two are certainly the preferable routes to success and we’ve already made a good start on both of them in this Parliament, with three record-breaking by-election victories and the amazing wins this May, building on previous council gains.

Now we have the chance to build on that with Sarah Dyke’s campaign in the Somerton and Frome by-election. Sarah and the team are running a brilliant campaign, highlighting the Conservative failures on the NHS, cost of living and sewage.

But Sarah can only win with our help. 

Please do head over to help if you can as there are only a few days left until polling day on July 20. We only win by-elections when we all turn up to campaign.

We’ve already shown what we can pull off three times in this Parliament. Let’s make it a fourth.

New priorities for our diversity and inclusion work

At our last Federal Board meeting, we agreed a new set of priorities for our diversity and inclusion work, building on our recent progress in areas such as target seat Parliamentary candidates. For the next phase of progress, we’ll be concentrating on targets such as improving the diversity of our local government base and who we speak with on the doorsteps.

Both of these are important in their own right and also important for their knock-on impact. Who we have canvass data from and who our councillors are in turn affects much else that we do, such as who we then try to recruit as a member or who ends up on one of our committees.

To support these new priorities, our previous Equity, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EEDI) working group – which did great work to help get the previous diversity audit implemented – is being replaced by a new working group geared specifically to these new priorities.

Legacy fundraising

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President’s Update: The difference your campaigning makes

So many people depend on the help and love of unpaid carers, relying on them to get through essential day-to-day challenges such as washing, dressing and eating. Yet our unpaid carers are often without adequate support, having to juggle caring with their own work.

Which is why Wendy Chamberlain’s Carer’s Leave Act, steered through the Lords by Lib Dem peer Chris Fox, is such an impressive and important achievement. A special shout-out too for Wendy’s Senior Researcher, Kathryn Sturgeon, who did a power of work on the bill.

It’s an impressive achievement because the chance for any MP outside the government to get new legislation through is rare. It’s also an important achievement because the Act gives important new support to carers, allowing time off work to manage caring responsibilities.

The Act means an estimated 2.4 million carers across the UK now have a statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave per year. The law benefits employers too as those businesses which already provide such leave report reduced recruitment costs, improved retention and better staff well-being.

Wendy seized the opportunity when it came. But she was only there in Parliament to see the opportunity because of your support and campaigning. It’s the difference that getting Liberal Democrats elected makes. Thank you.

Condolences

I know readers will want to join me in giving our condolences to Ming Campbell, after his wife Elspeth died earlier this month. As Wendy Chamberlain said, “Elspeth was a kind and generous person, known to and loved by many of us within the Scottish Liberal Democrats in North East Fife and beyond. I will treasure the memory of the time I spent with her both prior to and since my election.

Could it be you?

Five keen and talented people are needed for a variety of roles in the Federal Party, ranging from membership and supporter work to finance and judging appeals.

Even if you’re not looking for a new role, please do take a look as you may well know someone else who it would be worth you sharing this information with and encouraging to apply.

Details are up on our website for:

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Mark Pack’s May report – Another great success

It’s vital to learn from failures. But it’s much more fun to learn from successes. So there is a lot of fun to be had in learning the lessons for the Liberal Democrats from the latest local elections.

Let’s summarise those successes with three numbers:

  • +407 seats – the party’s second biggest gain in raw seats since the mid-1990s.
  • +12 councils – taking the number of Lib Dem majority councils to its highest for at least 18 years.
  • 20% equivalent national share – the highest on this BBC measure since going into coalition in 2010. (The alternative NEV measure was the joint best since 2010.)

However, it’s important to remember that not everyone who hoped to win did so. For colleagues who were seeking election but didn’t make it, it can be even tougher when all around people are celebrating. If you, or someone close to you, is in that position, my commiserations and thanks for all you’ve done.

Five in a row

Perhaps the most important element of the local election results is one that has been mostly overlooked. It’s that the Lib Dems have now made it five rounds of local elections in a row at which we’ve made net gains. You have to go back to 2002-6 for the last time we did that.

Another way of looking at our progress is the cumulative gains and losses so far in May elections during this Parliament:

  • Lib Dems +637
  • Greens +416
  • Labour +318
  • Conservatives -1,309

That’s the sort of sustained progress which has been an important part of the party’s strategy in this Parliament: investing in our grassroots campaigning support, for both stronger and weaker areas, concentrating on target seats at election time but expanding our areas of strength as we do. Sustained grassroots growth is what will make us a successful national party.

The most dramatic progress was against the Conservatives, and as in 2019 once again our vote share did best the more an area had voted Remain. In areas that voted Remain in 2016, our vote share was up nearly 1.5 points on average, though in areas that voted 60% or more Leave in 2016, our vote share was down just under a point.

But in addition, many groups primarily up against Labour managed to grow, including us becoming the official opposition on Sunderland Council.

Overall, in the places with zero or one Lib Dem council seat up for election this time, we made a net 21 gains, going from 32 councillors in these councils to 53. Four times as many of these smaller places went forward as went back and we went up in every region.

Map of Lib Dem seat gains in May 2023 local elections

 

Regional breakdown of seat changes in May 2023 local elections

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Mark Pack: My monthly report to members

A great result on candidate numbers

There’s been a big increase in the number of Liberal Democrat candidates for this May’s local elections. We’ve got up to 60% of seats having a Lib Dem candidate (up seven points on last time around). It’s our best showing for this part of the local elections cycle compared with Labour since 2011 and compared with the Conservatives since 2007.

That’s important for our credibility with voters. It means so many more people will see the Liberal Democrat name and logo on their ballot papers. It also matters for our credibility with the media, as the positive coverage in The Guardian demonstrates.

We still have some way to go to match Labour’s 77% or the Conservatives 93%. But it’s a big step forward and follows up progress earlier this Parliament. As well as being important progress in its own right, it’s just the sort of sustained, coordinated push that we need to build us up for a sustained, long-term challenge to the big parties.

Many thanks to everyone who helped achieve this progress – and very best of luck to everyone who is standing in a seat they hope to win this May.

For a fair deal

You may well have noticed how much more the party is talking about campaigning for a fair deal – such as on the backdrop at our York conference or in the March party political broadcast on TV in England.

It’s the positive part of our message that complements our call to ‘send them a message’, highlighting the failures of the Conservatives in Westminster and Labour in so many other elected bodies – not to mention the spectacularly imploding SNP in Scotland.

That fairness theme goes to the heart of what makes us Liberal Democrats. It’s no coincidence either that it’s worked so well for us previously, such as with Charles Kennedy.

There will be more on what the Liberal Democrat version of fairness means in the ‘pre-manifesto’ policy document coming out over the summer for our autumn conference.

When will the general election be?

All of which prompts the question – when will the next Westminster general election come? The short answer is no-one knows, not even the Prime Minister.

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Mark Pack’s monthly report to members

It was lovely catching up again with many members in person at our York conference and thank you to everyone who safely voted through the proposals the Board put to conference, including our new Code of Conduct and improvements to our constitution.

Winning more power

Presenting the Board report, I talked about  how, as we enter the final phase of this Parliament, there are two overriding aims for the Liberal Democrats: win more council seats and elect more MPs.

We’ll best do this by concentrating on the issues that matter most to voters. But by doing this we will also get great Liberal Democrats elected and re-elected, who will then use political power to achieve a much broader range of liberal ends. People who can use power to help secure a fair deal for our citizens and our communities.

We have a brilliant opportunity to take the next big step at the May elections, as I wrote about last time.

The closer we get to the Westminster general election, the greater the focus becomes on our held and target Parliamentary seats. That is to the whole party’s benefit, as the better our general election result, the better we can win elections at other levels too.

The number of MPs we have is particularly important for our national profile because it sets so much of what happens to us, from how often a Lib Dem MP gets to ask a question at PMQs, through to how often there is a Lib Dem on political panel on TV, our presence in the regional media  and even how many commercial organisations pay up to exhibit at our conferences.

The more MPs we have, the higher our media profile, the stronger our finances and the better we do everywhere. Winning a Blue Wall constituency off the Conservatives will help us win Labour council seats in the Red Wall.

Our balancing act

Electing more MPs at the next general election is not enough for success on its own. Which is why the closer we get to that election, and the greater the pull of attention on our held and target seats, the more important the role of President and the Federal Board become in balancing that short-term imperative against the broader, longer-term work we need to continue for sustained success.

We need to continue to win council seats elsewhere, including in Labour and nationalist facing areas. We need to continue to have a network of campaign support staff helping local parties at all levels of electoral success. We need to continue to up our game on diversity and inclusion. We need to continue a long-term commitment to investing in better data and technology.

It is going to be a tricky balance to get right, and the best way to do that is to be upfront about the balancing act required.

If we can get it right, the biggest prize at stake is a strong enough voice in Parliament to secure electoral reform for the House of Commons.

That’s the route to permanently changing British politics for the better – and it’s the route to sustained, closer relations with Europe too. Because other European states can read our electoral statistics just as well as we can. They can see that the Conservatives win two general elections out of three under first past the post – and they know therefore the risk to any future agreements with pro-European British governments being undone by the next Conservative one.

Our need for more candidates

If that is the big prize at stake, the most immediate need is for us to stand more candidates in the May local elections. Last time, both Labour and the Conservatives stood considerably more candidates than us – and that gets reflected in how the media sees us. Missing a Liberal Democrat on the ballot paper also forces people to vote for someone else – breaking the habit of voting regularly for us that we need more of, not less of.

A mini-campaign pack has gone out to local parties about how to find more candidates for this May. If you live or work somewhere with elections yourself, please do think about offering to help get the Lib Dem name on more ballot papers this time.

Preparing for the general election… helping people win in May

General election campaigns are unusual beasts and, given our typical staff turnover, it’s always a challenge to have a good mix of experience in a general election team. Which is why the party already developing detailed general election plans, with a recent full awayday for senior staff to check on progress.

It’s also why this May’s local elections are being used in many ways as a dry run for a general election – good for boosting this May’s results and good for preparing for the general election.

One part of that is a daily Zoom surgery with the Compliance team so people can easily get help on the day they need it. Drop a line to [email protected] for more details.

Congratulations to our amazing award winners

Our spring federal conference in York included our latest party awards, with four brilliant people winning this time. Read about them and their achievements in the special story here.

Manifesto consultation

Dick Newby, chair of our general election manifesto working group emailed party members earlier this month inviting everyone to help shape our manifesto.

As Dick wrote, “We will be bringing a pre-Manifesto document to Autumn Conference this year, which will give attendees the chance to discuss the key policy pledges we want to include in the Manifesto itself. But we understand that not everybody can attend Conference, so we want to give every Member and Supporter in our party the opportunity to have their voice heard.”

As well as that survey, his email included news of seven online consultation events coming up.

(If you don’t recall getting the email, search for “Help us shape our future policy and manifesto ahead of the next General Election” in your email folders, or otherwise drop a line to [email protected] to check the email address and opt in status on your membership record.)

Welcome to new committee colleagues

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Mark Pack: My monthly report to members

We have a chance this May to achieve something we’ve only ever managed twice before in our party’s entire history: make it five rounds of local election net gains in a row.

We should be excited about that possibility. Not only for reasons of psephology but also for reasons of power.

Every gain we make will mean more people benefiting from Liberal Democrats in office, and every gain we make will mean more opportunity to turn our policies into action.

Policies such as the great record in Eastleigh of building new houses – and keeping on winning elections.

To keep our run of local election gains going in May we need two things: candidates and teams to help them. The last time this round of seats were up for election, our calculations show that we missed out on several hundred (yes, hundred) further gains because we didn’t have enough candidates in winnable territory.

Centrally, the party is doing more to publicise the opportunities to be a candidate and to encourage more people to think about i., (The data from these surveys ends up in Lighthouse so it’s available to all local parties.)

But nothing quite beats the in person conversation, the chat over coffee, to help more people realise what a great candidate and councillor they would be. 

That’s particularly important for potential candidates for under-represented groups, who can need that extra encouragement that our party is a welcoming home for them.

Then we need to get our candidates elected, which is where help from people who don’t have local elections in their own area can be so important. Going to help in person or picking up the phone to make some calls makes the difference in close contests.

If you can help with either of these tasks, please do. There’s also a wide range of free training available to help you make the most of these opportunities.

Working together, we can get more Liberal Democrats elected and get more things done such as turning a disused rubbish tip bequeathed by a Conservative-run council into a successful solar farm, helping our planet and generating income to pay for high quality local services.

The paradox at the heart of British politics

Alongside that local picture, there’s a paradox in our national politics we also need to navigate our way through.

The public increasingly views Brexit negatively. The headline figures show a slow but sustained, long-term trend.

Some of this change comes from long-term demographic trends as those joining the adult population are overall much more pro-European than the average. Some of it too comes from people changing their minds – although much of that is a churn to/from don’t know.

In fact, when YouGov recently asked about how people would vote in a new referendum, there was only a net 1.5% of people switching direct all the way from Leave to Remain. Moreover, those increasing pro-European views are also often quite soft. Put simply, the more that the possible conditions of Britain rejoining the EU are mentioned, the further support drops.

Even so, the overall trends are clearly headed in the right direction given our pro-Europeanism. Yet there is a paradox here. Because while public opinion is increasingly negative about Brexit, public opinion is even more strongly of the view that the most important issues to people, their families and to the country are other topics.

Different pollsters ask these questions in different ways, but the pattern of answers is similar. That pattern matters because, as the last general election showed, however much we might wish the election to be about one issue, in a democracy the voters get to choose what an election is about – and they can choose to make it about something else.

Today the most important issues are the economy, cost of living and health services. These affect people directly, now, in very practical and obvious ways.

Many people face big waits for a GP appointment, can’t get on an NHS dentist waiting list, worry about ambulance times if things do go wrong, and millions are stuck on waiting lists.

Overwhelmingly, the public wants to hear those who seek to lead them concentrating on these issues. Talking about other issues instead can feel at best like missing the point and at worst disrespectful to the immediate pressures and worries they face.

The way to show these voters we understand their lives is to talk about the economy, the NHS, practical issues in their area affecting their lives, and the underlying sense of being taken for granted by the Conservatives.

Party Awards: get your nominations in

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Mark Pack’s monthly report: January 2023

The year ahead

It’s possible, just possible, that British politics may return to a relative normality in 2023. We might have a year without any change of Prime Minister, without a general election and without a pandemic. We will certainly have a year with a failing Conservative government, vital public services under strain and an important opportunity to continue our recovery with the May local elections.

Rishi Sunak has already demonstrated he brings neither competency nor moderation to replace the incompetent extremism of his predecessors. He didn’t use his political honeymoon to make difficult decisions for the long-term. He’s treating promises to take an issue personally as a substitute for action, and kicked so many decisions into the long grass. Whether it’s reforming social care or building onshore wind farms, time and again his response is to dither rather than to act.

Looming over all those issues is the continued failure of Brexit. As Daisy Cooper put it to Times Radio, “This Conservative Brexit deal isn’t working for Britain”. Instead, she set out the Liberal Democrat alternative four-step plan to improve our trade relations with Europe.  (Take a listen here.) That’s the way both to make an immediate difference to people’s lives and to help prepare the way for the longer-term battle over Britain’s future with the EU.

To succeed, we need to continue to rebuild our grassroots campaigning strength, to build our membership and supporter base, to raise our game on diversity and inclusion, and to invest in the best data and technology.

Watch out for more news on all of those through the year – and I’d really encourage everyone planning campaign work through to May to include talking to supporters, getting them to help and join, as part of that. Local parties can secure cash bonuses for members recruited or renewed; details here.

York conference – in person!

I’m looking forward to meeting members in person again at a federal conference, with our first in-person one for so long coming up in York on 15-17 March. It will include keynote speeches, policy debates, training, fringe meetings and more.  You can find out more and register here.

How Lib Dems are tackling homelessness

The BBC reported over Christmas a great example of the difference we can make to people’s lives:

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Mark Pack’s December report: Fixing our broken politics

The importance of electoral reform

So much of our country is broken. Failing public services, failing government, failing to give hope for the future. Key to fixing that is to fix our political system, and that means fixing the electoral system for the House of Commons. First past the post is the broken mechanism at the heart of our broken politics.

Which is why Ed Davey recently gave an important speech to the IPPR, focused on how we need to make the next Westminster general election the last fought under first past the post. In his speech, Ed said:

The first step is getting the Conservatives out of government. Then, we must reform our electoral system to make everyone’s vote count equally.

It’s clear that first past the post distorts democracy. It has allowed the Conservative Party to cling to power – despite a majority of the British people voting against them at every election. Leaving them free to change Prime Minister as many times as they like, without a shred of accountability. I don’t need to tell you how damaging that has been for our country and our democracy.

But we have a real opportunity right now. For the first time ever, a majority of the British public now supports electoral reform. People know it’s the only way to bring about the change we so desperately need.

You can read his speech in full here and you can sign up to back our fair votes campaign here.

Thank you

We only have a chance of making that plan a reality thanks to the support of our members and helpers right across the country, and from our overseas branches too.

Thanks to that support, we’ve made a lot of progress in 2022 and we end it with more councillors, more Lib Dem majority councils and more MPs than we entered the year. With a huge round of local elections coming up in May and a Westminster government so mired in economic failure, we can look to the next set of electoral challenges with increasing confidence.

As council by-elections show us week in, week out, where we get our organisation right, where we listen to what matters most to voters and where we’re determined to up our game, there continue to be dramatic swings and wonderful victories to be secured.

Thank you for all you’ve done over the last year. I hope all our staff, volunteers, members and helpers get a good rest over the festive season, and the very best of luck for the next one.

New party website is live

As you’ll see if you follow that link above to Ed’s speech, our new and much improved party website is now live. This is part of the party’s big change in technology systems, with a new website system, email tool and online event tool for local parties too.

There’s plenty more to come with new content and features for both the national site and for everyone else using these tools across the party. But it’s worth particularly highlighting the new short summary of our party values that’s online, as I know many members have wanted an updated page to share locally and put in local email newsletters and the like. Party press releases are also appearing on the site too.

Improving the website is one part of improving our internal communications. The new, long-form ‘explainer’ emails that now go out after major events have gone down very well. (If, for example, you didn’t receive one after Ed Davey’s replacement conference speech last month, drop an email to [email protected] and the team can check your records, such as whether the party has an old email address for you or has you down as opted out from such messages.)

Another improvement just launched is the new local party officer newsletter, which particularly highlights the great work going on to recruit members…

Four local parties doing great membership work

Congratulations to Twickenham & Richmond, Bath and North East Somerset, Woking and Luton local parties who have been the four best performing local parties recently in recruiting and renewing party members locally.

Not only does this strengthen our grassroots organisation, but each locally recruited or renewed party member earns the local party a cash bonus, helping pay for all the big elections we’ve got coming up in the next couple of years.

Watch out for party posts to be filled

At the start of each three year cycle for our Federal Board, there are then around 50 further posts that the Board needs to fill, across a wide range of party activities, such as membership engagement, finance and technology.

At our December meeting we agreed plans for advertising these, with a trio of posts prioritised for urgent filling with adverts for them appearing this side of Christmas. The trio are all posts which also chair a group or committee (our elections and finance committees and our fundraising board). So getting the chair in place is important for getting that whole team up and running too.

For the other roles, we’ll follow the more traditional timescales and fill them early in the new year, allowing a little more time to ensure we’re properly casting the net widely to get the best and most diverse set of applicants.

All the vacancies will be advertised on the party website.

Each will include contact details if you’d like to find out more about any of the posts, or by all means drop me an email on [email protected] at any point if you’d like to discuss ways of getting more involved in our party.

December Federal Board meeting

Alongside those decisions on filling party posts, our newly elected Federal Board met in early December to get various things set up and running ahead of our first proper full meeting in January. This included agreeing to go ahead with the plans from the last Board for what business to put to Spring Federal Conference in York, updating the standing orders for the Disciplinary Sub-Group (DSG) ahead of appointing members to it next year, and getting things in place for how we communicate with each other, when we’ll meet next year and so on.

An important change for the Board will be the new role for a Federal Council to scrutinise our work. As our constitution says, “The Council shall be responsible for scrutinising the work of the Federal Board, including ensuring that decisions are being taken in line with the party strategy as voted for by Conference.”

I hope the new Federal Council will soon have a chair in place to help us all get stuck into working out the right relationship between the Board and the Council, and taking the necessary decisions, such as how we share information, that will go with that.

Transphobia definition

The November Federal Board meeting agreed an updated definition of transphobia to use in our party’s internal complaints processes.

Since the original definition was agreed several years ago, this general area has been an active area of legal cases. As a result the legal advice the party commissioned from an expert KC concluded that, although it was still legal for us to have and use a definition in our disciplinary processes, there were elements of it that needed to be changed given the current law and legal precedents. Despite the calls from some for the party to drop its definition completely, instead the Board decided to revise it so that we continue to have a definition that helps set the bounds on what is acceptable behaviour for a party member.

However, both the way in which the change was arrived at and communicated, along with the substance of the change, has caused considerable discussion and concerns. The process for making the change, including the timing of the publication, and the engagement with LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, one of our official party bodies, did not work as well as it should have, and my apologies for that.

As a result, along with our Chief Executive I’ve met with the executive of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, and we’ve agreed on a series of steps to dig further into their areas of concern and to improve the party’s engagement with them.

I know we have more to do on that, both on this issue and more widely, and I will do my best to work closely with LGBT+ Lib Dems and others to achieve that.

It’s worth adding that none of the above has altered our public policies on trans rights, which have been repeatedly and overwhelmingly supported by party members through our democratic processes. The party continues to fully support trans rights, including supporting reform of the Gender Recognition Act and for a total ban on so-called conversion therapy. It’s important that we continue to try to bring that support to life in how we operate as a party too.

Robert Woodthorpe Browne MBE

My condolences to Robert’s family and many friends across the party after his sad death a few days ago. Robert had long been one of the party’s strongest internationalists, with an impressive ability to work successfully with liberal colleagues from across the globe. He was also wonderfully supportive and kind, the very best of people to turn to for advice and problem solving.

Mark Valladares, who worked closely with Robert for many years, has paid tribute to him here.

Congratulations and thanks to…

Congratulations and best wishes to the new team of people elected to our federal committees in the party’s internal elections.

Additional congratulations to Cllr Nick da Costa, who members of Federal Conference Committee (FCC) have re-elected as their chair.

Thank you also to a trio of federal committee chairs who have said they’ll be standing down: Cllr Lisa Smart (Federal Communications and Elections Committee, FCEC), Helena Cole (Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee, FASC) and Mary Regnier-Wilson (Federal People Development Committee, FPDC). All three have put in huge amounts of work and made tangible differences to how well the party is run. Thank you all for your contributions, and the very best of luck for your future party work too.

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

Mark Pack: Why I’m running for Party President

Editor’s Note: The LDV team has invited the three candidates for Party President to write an article for us. 

I eat tofu. I listen to podcasts. I’ve appeared on the BBC. I read The Guardian. I live in north London. Both my parents were immigrants. 

It’s a good thing that Conservative Home Secretaries and Prime Ministers don’t get a vote in our internal elections, as I’m really not the sort of person they like.

And they certainly don’t share my politics… because I want our country to be more liberal, more tolerant, more inclusive, and at the heart of Europe. The more Liberal Democrat policies we get enacted, the better people’s lives are. 

To achieve that, we need to get our strategy and organisation right. We have to have more MPs, more Mayors, more MSPs and MSs, more London Assembly members, more councillors and our first Police and Crime Commissioners.

Since taking up post as President in January 2020, we’ve made real progress implementing the lessons from the independent election review of the 2019 general election. We’ve strengthened our campaign staff, steadied our finances and improved our governance. We’ve focused on reaching diverse groups, engaging our members, and modernising our technology so we can do better in getting our messages across.

We’re winning again at local elections and by-elections – and I’m delighted that by-election winners Helen Morgan and Richard Foord are backing my campaign. 

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Mark Pack’s monthly report: September 2022

Paying tribute to the Queen

As Ed Davey said in paying tribute,

For many people, including myself, The Queen was an ever-fixed mark in our lives. As the world changed around us and politicians came and went, The Queen was our nation’s constant. The Queen represented duty and courage, as well as warmth and compassion. She was a living reminder of our collective past, of the greatest generation and their sacrifices for our freedom. My thoughts and prayers today go especially to the Royal Family. And they also go to people in every corner of the world whose lives she touched.

You can watch the tributes from other Liberal Democrats here

Cancellation of party conference

Following the death of the Queen, the Federal Board received a recommendation from the Federal Conference Committee (FCC) to cancel our autumn conference. We agreed to this after a special meeting. There was widespread understanding of the many drawbacks of cancellation, and how disappointed and out of pocket many members (including committee members) would be. But it was the least worst of the options available.

FCC chair Cllr Nick Da Costa explained the reasons for the cancellation, including the range of options considered, in an email to those registered for conference and which is also online here.

(If you were registered for conference and did not receive the email, you can contact [email protected] to check the party has an up-to-date email address for you and that you’re not opted out from such messages. It’s also worth checking to see if the emails are ending up in your spam folder.)

FCC is now looking at ways of putting on extra events to help fill some of the gaps left by cancellation, such as online sessions to hold party committees (and people like me!) to account and extra online training. If you were hoping to ask the Board any questions at conference, either at our helpdesk or in the formal Board report session, you can instead email them to me and I’ll do my best to ensure they all get answered.

The Returning Officer has also decided to adjust the timings for this autumn’s internal elections as they overlapped with The Queen’s funeral. Details are on the party website.

Receiving emails from the party

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President’s Report August 2022

The next general election

With a new Conservative Party leader nearly upon us, the range of plausible dates for the general election is wide open. As it now may well be much sooner than seemed likely at the time of our last conference, the Federal Board has been reviewing our general election plans.

Preparations are being stepped up across the party. The pre-manifesto document being debated at conference is an important part of that as is Ed Davey’s announcement of a major new package to help people with their fuel bills this winter – axing the planned increase in the fuel bill cap and providing extra help to those most in need.

This all makes now an even more important time for us all to be out on the doorsteps, recruiting new members and campaign helpers. There’s been a clear pattern in our recent electoral successes at all levels that building up campaign organisations well in advance of the formal election campaign is a central element to success.

A Membership Incentive Scheme is in place, with generous additional payments to local parties who recruit or renew party members locally, especially if it is done on direct debit.

Thanks in particular to our wonderful three Parliamentary by-election wins in the last year, when that general election comes, we’ll be a key part of the route to removing the Conservatives from government in Westminster.

That makes the Parliamentary seats in the (variously and flexibility defined) Blue Wall an increasingly important focus for us as the next general election polling day nears. But the majority of our councillors, our members and our voters are outside the Blue Wall.

So it’s not only the target seats for the next Westminster election we need to prosper at. We also need to be winning at other levels of election more broadly. We need to continue the sort of breadth in our recovery we saw in May’s local elections – amazing progress against the Conservatives in the Blue Wall and continuing recovery elsewhere, including up against Labour and the nationalists. Both of these tracks need to be successful for us to be a growing, national party.

That’s why the Board has continued to prioritise investment in the breadth of our campaigns officers network, supporting not only Parliamentary target seats but also progress in other areas too. Thank you to all the other parts of the party who have cooperated on this, giving us a much larger network of staff supporting grassroots campaigning than we had before.

Could you be a Returning Officer?

With Parliamentary selections picking up across the country, there has never been a better time to volunteer to be a Liberal Democrat Returning Officer.

Every Parliamentary selection is run by a trained Returning Officer – and although it is not a task for everyone, it’s a really valuable role that we need more volunteers for. Returning Officers need to be organised and methodical, to understand and interpret the rules, solve problems and work constructively with people whose perspectives on a situation may differ.

Does this sound like you or someone you know? If so, please contact / ask them to contact your Regional Candidates Chair in England or state Candidates Chair in Scotland and Wales to discuss the role and the availability of training. If you need putting in touch with the relevant person, just drop me a line.

There’s a training session being run on the Sunday morning at Conference, so now is a great time to get people thinking about this role.

Note that a Returning Officer cannot run selections for the local party of which they are a member, but they can help others so that others can help you.

Treating our staff well

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Mark Pack’s July report: Getting ready to remove the Conservatives from power

When will the next general election be?

Sorry, I don’t know. But I do know that the range of plausible dates is wide open – from only a couple of months away through to January 2025. And that whenever the date is, we also have a massive round of local elections in May.

Which is why we need to step up our campaigning, capacity building and planning through the second half of this year. Even if this Parliament goes its full term, the benefits of extra canvassing, member recruitment and training this summer will still be considerable.

We certainly need to be out campaigning, looking at the horror show that is the Conservative Party leadership contest so far – full of candidates who aren’t headlining big issues like fixing the NHS and tackling climate change, but are rushing to the media to talk about restricting the rights of trans people.

Both our elections committee (FCEC) and the Board have recently reviewed our general election preparations, and the team at HQ is revising our contingency plans for a snap election. A pre-manifesto overview of our policy approach is also coming to the autumn’s federal party conference.

It was great to see the huge bump in canvassing as a result of our ‘Big Build’ weekend in early July – and the bump in new leaflet deliverers that came in as a result. Our party membership also not only got a bump from the win in Tiverton & Honiton, but the growth has continued since too rather than fading away as happened with previous by-election bumps.

So I’d encourage everyone in local parties to think about how to up your campaigning plans over the summer, and where we don’t yet have a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) in place to think about talking to your state or regional party about when to timetable your selection for.

Wonderful people

We’ve had a brilliant run of council by-elections already since the May local elections, with a net seven gains (compared to net four gains for Labour). That makes us the best performing party in those contests, and it was particularly good to see Linda Chung win the Hampstead Town by-election – winning the seat from third place and taking it from Labour.

Also deserving particular praise is the first person to top our ‘Golden Mallets’ scheme for people who got the most posters put up in the May elections. Cliff Woodcraft from Sheffield topped the list with an awesome 466 (!) posters. Badges are on their way to all the winners.

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Mark Pack’s monthly report – June 2022

Tiverton and Honiton

We saw last year what a huge boost it gave to the party getting two new excellent MPs elected in Parliamentary by-elections. It’s good for their constituents and also good for the party’s prospects across the whole country.

We’ve also seen this month how Conservative MPs have failed to do what our country needs – to remove Boris Johnson from 10 Downing Street.

Which is why the latest contest in Tiverton and Honiton is so important for us all again. The single most effective thing you can do in the next few weeks to help bring about his demise – and to help the party win in your own patch – is to help Richard Foord get elected on 23 June.

Many of the team have gone straight into this campaign from the May local elections, without the chance to pause for the hoped for break after those. Thank you hugely to everyone who is stretching themselves to give Richard the best of chances of winning.

Thank you too to Jamie Needle and the team in Wakefield, fighting a carefully targeted campaign there which I’m sure will help the continued growth of our council group on Wakefield Council.

Treating our staff well

Some good news to report on party staff: the federal party has been awarded the ‘excellence’ status by the Good Work Standard for how we go beyond legal minimum requirements in looking after staff.
With the amount of change since the 2019 election plus all the strains of lockdowns, it’s been a particularly tough few years for our staff. But standards such as this show how we’re taking seriously making the party a good and happy place to work.

Welcome to Cllr Mike Cox and Chris French

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Mark Pack reports: A brilliant set of election results

We’re winning

What an amazing outcome from this May’s local elections:

  • Three more Liberal Democrat majority councils, taking us back to where we were before going into Coalition in 2010;
  • net gain of 224 councillors, making this the fourth set of net gains in a row, something we’ve not achieved since the Iraq war;
  • 19% vote share (the national equivalent vote share, i.e. what it would have been if there were elections everywhere); and
  • The lovely bonus of seeing our sister party in Northern Ireland, Alliance, gaining seats and votes to move up to such an impressive third place.

Our successes weren’t just handed to us. They happened because of a huge amount of hard work, smart campaigning and dedication over a long period of time. Thank you to everyone who made that happen – and to their families and friends for supporting them through it.

Before going into the details, thanks and sympathies for those who weren’t successful this time. Missing out on winning never feels great, but it can be even tougher when others around you are celebrating. So thank you to everyone who tried and didn’t make it this time. I hope that our successes elsewhere help give you confidence that we can bounce back in your patch too.

Breadth and depth

A particularly promising part of our successes was the breadth of them. We made gains in Scotland, in Wales and in England. We also made gains in areas where last time we elected no councillors, including from Labour. In London, for example, we won council seats on four councils where we’d won none last time around – including one of the very last councils to declare on Sunday (!), Croydon. Many of our smaller small council groups grew too.

But alongside that, in our stronger areas – and especially those where we can hope now to win at the next Westminster Parliamentary election – we also progressed. For every MP we currently have, there was more than one other constituency where we topped the poll last week.

We’ve still got a long way to go to build up our local government base to where we want it to be. But we took a big step forward last week, again, and have now made a cumulative gain of 1,207 council seats in the May elections since 2015 (compared with 628 loses for Labour and 1,095 for the Conservatives).

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Mark Pack’s April report: Good luck to all our candidates and agents

Thank you

With nominations now closed for the May elections, many thanks to everyone who has put in so much work to getting candidates approved, selected and safely nominated. From a first look at the numbers, we’ve seen a good increase in our candidate totals in Scotland and Wales, with the numbers broadly the same in England compared with last time.

I’m sure there will be lessons we can learn and share more widely from those areas that have had the most success increasing their candidate numbers, but that can wait until after the elections. For the moment, thank you – and best of luck to all the candidates nominated, their agents and their campaign managers.

Our plans for a fair deal

One of the oddities of how the media covers local elections is that ‘campaign launches’ for the national media usually take place weeks (if not months and years!) after our campaigning has actually started.

Which is why the start of April saw a big round of national media coverage for a Liberal Democrat local election campaign launch in England. Our national media push is deliberately focusing on the issues our research shows work best for setting the mood music against which local campaigns can do their magic at the grassroots. Which means a particular emphasis on the dumping of sewage in our rivers, ways to improve our ambulance service and help with the cost of living crisis.

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Mark Pack’s March report

It was a shocking and sobering sight just a few days ago to wake up and see a photo of Kira Rudyk, the leader of a sister liberal party of ours in Ukraine holding a gun and preparing to fight.

It was also a reminder of the importance of our liberal values – and the need for internationalism to support fellow humans, rather than to try to hide away within our own borders as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Viruses, climate change and dictators don’t stop at borders, and nor should our compassion for other people.

The wave of sanctions, both mandatory from governments and voluntary as others too have ceased trade, cancelled events and ended Russian participation, is a reminder of just how much integration there was – economically, socially and culturally – between Russia and the rest of the world.

A frequent hope of liberals is that such extensive links can bring people together and reduce the risk of conflict. What the invasion of Ukraine has shown, however, is that such hope is not enough. We also need strong multinational institutions with the necessary powers to enforce their decisions when required.

Getting that right will help avoid future Ukraines, but we also have to work with where we are in the present. Which is why we’re pressing the government so hard to take effective action against the Russian oligarchs who have secreted so much wealth in London and spent so heavily on British politics, British legal services and British financial services.

Events in Ukraine will come up in multiple ways at our online federal spring conference 11-13 March. You can still register for the event here (and it only costs £5 if you have not come to conference before).

In the light of both the tragedy in Ukraine and the controversies over the Chinese use of money to influence British politics, we’ve been reviewing our rules for checking the international aspects of potential donations to confirm that they have the right safeguards in them.

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President’s Update, February 2022, Europe, Party reform, supporting candidates, new Vice President

The next steps in our European policy

There’s a lesson we should learn from Brexiters. It’s that for most of the road to the tragedy of the 2016 referendum they weren’t Brexiters but Euro-sceptics. For most of that time, they weren’t campaigning for Brexit to happen tomorrow, but against a particular aspect of the EU. That is how they built up a broad coalition of support to get Brexit through.

In turn, we need to do the same in reverse – to recognise that even many Remainers are put off by ‘let’s rejoin the EU now!’, but that even those who voted Leave can be won over by campaigning issue by issue on the merits of cooperation with our neighbours.

It’s an approach that party members overwhelmingly supported in our recent (with a record-breaking response!) consultation.

At our spring federal conference, we’ll be fleshing out the details of what this means when we debate a motion which sets out our comprehensive plan to reconnect our political and trading relationship with Europe.

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Mark Pack writes…Why we need more Council candidates

When we debate party policy, strategy or election tactics, questions about what might attract or put off voters often – and rightly – come up. But there’s one sure-fire, 100% guaranteed, rock-solid way of repelling voters from us, and it’s one we use far too often. It’s not having a Liberal Democrat on the ballot paper. Zero votes for the party guaranteed.

Both Labour and the Conservatives, for example, get very close now to having a full slate of candidates in local elections. Despite improvements in recent years, we are still lagging a long way behind, and not yet back to where we used to be. So we know we can do better – because we have.

Even in wards where multiple seats are up for election and where we stand someone but not a full slate it is still a problem – as we’re still forcing people to vote for someone other than us.

With the important exception of STV elections in Scotland, of course, where the way the voting system works means standing ‘too many’ candidates harms our election chances in a way that doesn’t happen under first past the post. So in Scotland, it’s at least one candidate in each ward that’s the equivalent of the full slates we should be aiming for elsewhere.

Of the council seats coming up in May, we fought 63% of them in England and Wales last time out, and we had at least one candidate in 73% of Scottish wards. Those numbers are on the up – but still short of where we want to be. Remember – every single voter gets a ballot paper, showing them whether we are standing or not.

Standing candidates isn’t only about credibility and relevance. It’s also the way to get more people into the habit of regularly voting for the Liberal Democrats – a crucial step in building the sort of larger core vote for the party that will help us succeed more often.

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Mark Pack’s January report – the plan to build on our success in 2022

In 2021 we achieved something we’ve not achieved since 1993: winning two Parliamentary by-elections in the same year off the Conservatives. We start this new year with a larger Parliamentary Party than any of us would have dared dream of a year ago. (A winning run that has continued with the first council by-election of this year too – congratulations to now councillor Andrew Dunkin who won a seat from Labour from third place.)

The question now is how do we build on that success in 2022, and how do we make the most of our limited resources? Here’s the plan.

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Only 1 day to go to have your voice heard!

The Party is currently consulting on how to reform the Federal Board.

The voices of members such as yourself are critical if we are to deliver on the recommendations of the 2019 General Election “Thornhill” review. We have already shown progress in Chesham and Amersham, and have an amazing opportunity to deliver another blow to the Tory Government in North Shropshire (volunteer here or donate!) but to be successful in the long term we need to get our own structures right.

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Mark Pack’s November report: North Shropshire beckons…

Our campaign has already got off to a flying start in the by-election caused by Owen Paterson’s disgrace.

The local party had already made impressive progress in this May’s local elections. They secured a clear second place and created many marginal Conservative-Liberal Democrat wards.

Now we have a brilliant opportunity to turbo-charge that growth in our support and to see just how angry voters are about sleaze and sewage. Ed Davey is already on his third visit there.

Whether it’s by helping in person, on the phones or with your wallet, please do help too. You can donate online or sign up to volunteer. Thank you!

Thank you also to Simone Reynolds and Simon Drage, respectively our candidate and agent for the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election. More details here.

Have your say in how the party is run

There are two musts for how our party is run. It must be run in a way that is true to our values, and it must be run in a way that helps us work together to be successful.

Sadly, our 2019 General Election Review (the Thornhill Review) found major flaws in how the party operated. That cost us votes and seats.

Since its publication, the Federal Party has been making many changes in response, as I’ve covered in previous reports. But there is still important work to do.

One of the Review’s key findings was about the Federal Board itself:

There is no clear ‘leadership team’ where the three pillars of the party – political, operational, federal – can make cohesive decisions, simply, quickly, and effectively. The Federal Board – 40+ members – is not, cannot, and should not be that team.

So the Board is consulting on options for Board reform, and will put one or more to Spring Conference for members to make a decision.

As part of this we are running a consultation survey. Please do give your views via the consultation survey here.

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