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.

If we are going to build a grassroots movement we have to reach the voters and convince them that we have something to offer

In the third decade of the 21st Century that will mean mass communication on TV, radio and online

As president I think I will have the skills and the platform to convey our message there

As the party grows we will increasingly be talking about a national message.

We have to use that national exposure to add a new string to our bow. Or rather return to a string we played well in the past.

There will always be an important role for our hugely successful door to door grassroots campaigning and delivering.

But an effective social media, TV and radio presence is vital.

Take an average nightly regional or national new programme like Reporting Scotland. Six hundred thousand people watch it every night.

When I worked there Jim Wallace and Charles Kennedy, who was President at the time were on constantly. We won 15 seats in the Scottish Parliament and have 11 MPs in Scotland because the public heard what we had to say in an effective media message.

And it wasn’t just in Scotland it worked across the country when Simon was President, he used his existing platform and built a bigger profile as President.

That’s what I want to do.

I also want to make new members feel welcome. Make it clear that they have a President who will listen to what they say and make sure it gets to the people who need to hear it.

I want to be a President who listens and then gets it done.

* Christine Jardine is the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Nasser Butt 5th Oct '19 - 10:46am

    My concern about the President’s role is that its a public facing role and I regard our own membership and local Parties as Public facing too. We need a person with good experience of Media, Public Platform speech delivering, public stature. etc whilst at the same time a diplomat that can show leadership to Party committees and excutives, Work with all levels of the Party.

    The last thing we want is President embroiled in conflicts with committees party bodies and local parties. This happens if the President makes the role as a committee career role. Thus I would avoid anyone using the President’s position to concentrate on Committees work. Thats not what the Party President is for. We have had alot of internal conflicts in the last few years that we must move away from.

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