Everything you ever wanted to know about the internal workings of the Liberal Democrats but were afraid to ask…

Welcome to my new column, a humble bureaucrat’s contribution to internal Party debate and participation. When Mark Pack invited me to become a columnist for this august website, I was a mite surprised but, after some thought, realised that this might be an opportunity to help people to take a greater role in their Party. So here we go!

The Party’s internal workings are varied and strange. Indeed, so strange are they that when Ros Scott asked for an organogram before taking office as President two years ago, she was moved to remark, “Shouldn’t the boxes be joined to each other?”. Often, the relationships between key committees are based on individuals, rather than communication, and people find themselves serving one committee due to being elected to another. My task over the coming weeks and months is to tell you how to influence various bodies, and when.

So, where to start? Because it’s early in the year, there is little to report from the various Party bodies. However, there has been a major development over the past twenty-four hours…

Nick Clegg has announced that the Liberal Democrats will run a full slate of candidates at the next General Election, according to the London Evening Standard. There will be no electoral pact, no joint candidates. And whilst the media and the sceptics probably won’t believe it, given the barriers that such deals would have to get over, most Liberal Democrats should take some reassurance from what is almost certainly the first public utterance on the subject from the Party Leader. It’s a hare which should not have been allowed to run, but there you go.

Also, it will soon be time for President Farron’s first meeting of the Federal Executive. His predecessor, Ros Scott, notably managed to get through all of the business within the three hour time limit at every meeting, something her predecessor, Simon Hughes, wasn’t that great at. There are those who will suggest that this year’s Federal Executive will be pretty robust, and so expect more public debate of its activities.

Meanwhile, across the country, the English Regions are stirring. At the first Executive Committee meetings, most will be electing Committee Chairs and deciding on the membership of sub-committees. For example, most Regions have a Policy Committee, membership of which is open to ordinary members. There are also committees dealing with conferences and local party development. And, as these things are seldom well publicised, an e-mail to the Regional Secretary indicating your interest should give you every chance of getting involved. Your Regional Secretary’s contact details should be obtainable from the Regional Party’s website. If it isn’t, it should be…

Finally, the deadline for motions to the Spring Conference draws near. Yes, the deadline is next Wednesday, January 12th, at 1 p.m. and, whilst it’s probably too late now to start from scratch, it isn’t too early to start drafting something for the Autumn. Perhaps you could run it past your Region’s Spring Conference as a trial run, and as a means to gather support? Remember, Regional and State Parties can sponsor motions to a Federal Conference too…

In future columns, I’ll be looking at the roles of various committees and groups. If there’s anything you want me to look into, or any information that you might have that would interest readers of Liberal Democrat Voice, please feel free to get in touch.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters.


  • Thank you. A great idea for a column.

  • Great idea for a column – didn’t realise there was a way I could get involved with the Policy Committee!

  • I saw the title and thought: ‘what? He thinks he’ll manage to do that all in ONE blog post?’
    It’s good to see that this is the start of a series – and, having read this post with interest, I am looking forward to future entries.

  • Dave Warren 6th Jan '11 - 7:22pm

    How do these various bodies influence the parliamentary party?

  • Andrew Suffield 7th Jan '11 - 7:52am

    Somehow I always get the feeling that the party’s org chart says “here be dragons” on it somewhere.

  • gary glover 7th Jan '11 - 9:16am

    Ia it not the outcome of meetings, more important that sticking to a prescribed time limit!

  • Peter Chivall 7th Jan '11 - 10:02am

    @Mark Valladeres and Evening Standard story. I’m sure I heard Nick Clegg say ‘no electoral pact in 2015:LibDems will fight every seat as LibDems’ to loud cheers at the Autumn Conference in Liverpool…

  • The Cynical Idealist 7th Jan '11 - 1:13pm

    Can we have an organogram, please?

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