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.

I will be out there listening to members, chairing the board, raising money and representing our views to the public, whether it is on the streets or on Newsnight.

I will be working to make sure we win, not just in this coming election but council, Welsh and Scottish Parliamentary elections and that we are ready for the next round of EU polling.

That will involve working with the leader, the new chief executive and the campaigns department to make sure our vision is delivered.

More than that I will take responsibility for making sure that the members are at the centre of that every aspect of that.

People are why I got into politics.

People are what makes our party tick.

People will be at the heart of my Presidency.

* Christine Jardine is the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West

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10 Comments

  • Bill le Breton 27th Sep '19 - 8:07pm

    We should all be pleased that you have found it possible to stand, Christine.

    As you write, “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.”

    Sal has done a superb job across the full range of the post’s responsibilities but the most important has been the authority with which she has presented the case for the Party on public stages.

    We have truly entered a Liberal Moment. An intense light will be shone on us over the next few months. And much negative campaigning thrown at us.

    It is vital that we meet the challenge. You are particularly well equipped and experienced to ensure there is no hiatus in our new President being widely identified and able to carry on seamlessly from Sal.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Sep '19 - 11:42am

    Charles Kennedy stood for President and later became leader, so did Tim Farron.
    We have recently had a leadership election. Most leaders experience a defeat at federal conference as delegates prove that our party really is as democratic as we claim. Paddy did, Jo has not.
    When Charles stood for President there was an issue that the President should not be an MP, although the first elected president of the merged party was a former MP and a parliamentary candidate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Wrigglesworth.
    We will probably need every one of our MPs in the next parliament. Press and media will probably assess them as potential ministers in, for instance, a national unity government.

  • Asad Mehmood 28th Sep '19 - 7:07pm

    I am vote and Sports Christine.

  • Scottish MP as LibDem leader. Scottish MP as LibDem president. Most people would say this is imbalanced, particularly given devolution to Scotland means that many issues before Westminster (e.g. health, education) are not ones that impact on Scottish MPs’ constituents.

  • Richard O'Neill 29th Sep '19 - 12:32am

    Christine Jardine is a really effective performer in Parliament. My natural instinct is that the President should be a figure who is not an MP.

  • Kathy Erasmus 29th Sep '19 - 8:26am

    Good Morning Christine, although I think you would be an excellent candidate I ask you to reconsider standing as president. With a rogue government we need all our excellent MPs to put all their efforts into ridding this country of this extreme right wing Tory party and making the LibDems the largest party after the next election. With so much happening in this country and the world I feel you would be of more use as a minister in the next government. I think the next president should be from outside both parliament and the house of lords

  • Much as I admire and support you, I do not think any of our Parliamentary Parties can afford to lose one of their members to be Party President for some of the tine. None of our seats is safe and our group at Westminster is tiny.

  • marcstevens 30th Sep '19 - 6:01pm

    It doesn’t matter if the President is an MP or not, I think he or she needs to communicate effectively with members, ex-members, supporters and voters, that means replying to letters, emails etc rather than ignoring them as that is the best way to garner support. Somehow I reckon Christine will be doing that. Yours is the best statement so far but I still have three more to read going through the list in order.

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