Director of Elections Hilary Stephenson to leave after Spring Conference

Director of Elections Hilary Stephenson is to leave the Liberal Democrats soon after Spring Conference.

This news comes a few months after a staff reorganisation which saw many key campaigners, including Austin Rathe, Victoria Marsom and Steve Jolly leave LDHQ.

Hilary is a long-time friend and colleague of leader Tim Farron. He is known to credit her for his victory in Westmorland and Lonsdale and with supporting the local team to the point where they run the council by a significant margin.

Chief Executive Tim Gordon praised Hilary:

Hilary worked for 11 years outside the party before getting actively involved, first as a volunteer, a local party chair and regional officer and then in a variety of professional roles supporting MPs and the parliamentary party, as a key trainer and most recently within the Federal campaigns operation. She started with us in 2000.

She has performed numerous campaigning roles and has led the campaigns team through two General Elections. As a campaign leader she has delivered many victories not least Tim Farron’s election in Westmorland and Lonsdale and our by election victories in Cheadle and Eastleigh. She has won at all levels from parish to Europe and published a number of campaign manuals.

Hilary ‎has been a strong voice for campaigning and campaigners at all levels of the Party. She has been a tireless activist for Liberal Democracy both at work and in her personal time. She has also been a caring manager and has inspired many. We should all be very grateful for all that she has done for the Party – and I would like to thank her for all the advice and support that she has provided me with.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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20 Comments

  • George Potter 27th Jan '16 - 6:52pm

    Difficult to comment on this without saying anything which could potentially be viewed as criticism of an individual. But suffice to say that I expect there will be several people at a federal and state level within the party who will be far from disheartened at this news.

  • It’ll be a shame if her career with the Lib Dems is solely remembered by recent elections, when they were hugely effected by events outside her control.

  • I was expecting a couple of different names to be in an announcement like this tbh. I guess there is still hope!

  • Oh dear, that’s a shame that Hilary is leaving her post (though not, I hope, the Party?) . The Lib Dems need all the talented women in the party to remain in crucial roles.

  • George Potter 27th Jan '16 - 11:44pm

    @Paul

    Well there were also the 2010 elections which were a pretty spectacular failure when put in context.

  • Dave Hennigan 27th Jan '16 - 11:50pm

    I do think new thinking is needed in Campaign’s Department. I’ve not agreed with a lot of Hilary’s decisions – that is, it must be said due to decisions she made relating to seats I’ve worked in. That’s being purely selfish though as I fight Labour.

    Hilary’s expertise, in my view lay in beating the Tories as her headline achievements really suggest.

    She was, however an outstanding advocate on campaigning. A bollocking from HS used to wash over me but I saw the fear in PPCs and MPs I’ve worked for and the increase in work rate.

    Westmorland and Lonsdale was one such Tory seat – as was Cheadle, Hazel Grove and Eastleigh. We never really got to grips with beating Labour in the Mets. It’s a challenge that Hilary’s successor must address.

    PS – come and help us in Rochdale this weekend for our 2 days of action. I’ll give you details if you email me – [email protected] Put in subject line – Simon Danczuk and we’ll speak.

  • “Hilary’s expertise, in my view lay in beating the Tories as her headline achievements really suggest.”

    Only if you ignore her considerable role in winning Burnley

  • Stephen Pickthall 28th Jan '16 - 6:56am

    Saddest news since last May. We will miss her so much

  • George Kendall 28th Jan '16 - 8:31am

    Hilary has given an enormous amount to the party over many years in innumerable elections. I’ve only seen a few of them, such as back in 1997, after a grueling for five years, when she turned a narrow defeat for Andrew Stunell into a huge majority.

    Election organisation can and does require toughness, but she’s also someone who I’ve seen on numerous occasions show a concern for the individual, and an appreciation that we always need to be grateful when volunteers selflessly give their time and talents, and staff go above and beyond.

    The party owes her a deep debt of thanks.

  • @George: The cause of that failure was a certain Clegg, N.

  • Elaine Woodard 28th Jan '16 - 12:44pm

    Is there a notice somewhere which details the latest HQ organisation and post holders?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 28th Jan '16 - 1:36pm

    It’s also worth saying that Hilary should not be disproportionately blamed for what went wrong in May. The Campaigns Team was responsible for getting more campaigning than ever done in key seats.

    The problems, in my view, lay with overall campaign strategy and messaging. You might get lots of leaflets through doors, but if they aren’t saying things that connect with people, then it doesn’t lead to votes.

  • Caron,

    I so agree with that last comment!

  • Caron, what went wrong last May was the abysmal performance of the party in coalition, giving the Tories what they wanted and getting very little in return except blame. The voters knew that; why our leaders refused to do the right thing for the party is a question only they can answer. However bearing in mind the report into our performance is to be released, it is clear that the truth is still being brushed under the carpet to protect people’s reputations.

  • should have said “bearing in mind the report into our performance is still to be released …”

  • @Caron Lindsay:

    ” The Campaigns Team was responsible for getting more campaigning than ever done in key seats.”

    Eh????? The amount of campaigning done in the one key seat I know about was determined by people in the key seat concerned.

    “The problems, in my view, lay with overall campaign strategy and messaging. You might get lots of leaflets through doors, but if they aren’t saying things that connect with people, then it doesn’t lead to votes.”

    There were not problems with campaign strategy. There was NO overall campaign strategy at all. You cannot blame Hilary for that as her team’s job was to deliver the strategy, not to create it. There were, however, serious problems with messaging. If we had stuck to the messaging from the centre in our campaign there would be 7 Lib Dem MPs right now, not 8.

  • “The Campaigns Team was responsible for getting more campaigning than ever done in key seats. ”

    What’s the basis for this claim. Was there an objective measure made of the campaigning undertaken in Key seats in 2010 as a benchmark?

  • Elaine I note it is over 3 days since you asked your question about otganisation and post holders. Any bets on getting an informative and accurate answer??!

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