Federal International Relations Committee and the Paperwork of Doom

Yes, it was time for FIRC to meet again, our fifth meeting of the year, and we had a packed agenda, notable really for a general lack of policy discussion. Again.

For those Committee members who had joined the Committee in anticipation of debating the burning foreign affairs issues of the day, this will have come as a disappointment. For former bureaucrats like myself, it’s just as frustrating, because if there’s one thing worse than bureaucracy, it’s bureaucracy done inelegantly.

The bright spot on the agenda was the visit of Andrew Hames, who burbled happily enough whilst his mother, and the Party’s Deputy Leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Jo Swinson, talked with us about her ambitions in her role. I will freely admit to having been impressed with her performance. She aims to focus on human rights and climate change, whilst covering the “waterfront” of international matters as much as she is able. Her hope is to tap the knowledge of individual FIRC members, and we will do what we can to support her as time goes on.

Otherwise, we were asked to give our thoughts on the draft strategy paper from Federal Board. Naturally, I am not at liberty to say much about it. However, my gut feeling is that what is needed is a political strategy paper, with an organisational strategy paper to outline how the former is to be delivered. In its current form, I’m not sure that it offers a working basis to steer the various Party Committees in their delivery of the key goals (someone used the phrase ‘key performance indicators’ but I think that they got away with it…).

We also had a draft work plan for 2018. Unfortunately, it was circulated to the Committee less than an hour before we met, as the request to prepare one had come quite late. Again, it needs work, and I suggested that it be framed in a similar manner to that outlined in the Party’s Constitution.

Otherwise, we’re in the final stages of preparation for the ALDE Party Congress in Amsterdam in just over a week’s time. With a candidate in the race for (re-)election to the Bureau, and a large delegation to manage, we, and in particular our International Officer, Harriet Shone, will have a lot of work to do.

Also, progress has been made in terms of the reorganisation of our members outside Great Britain, and given that our membership in places such as France has grown substantially, it is more important than ever that we provide them with a means to organise and engage whilst ensuring that the legal niceties are adhered to. It isn’t as easy as one might hope…

So, those are the highlights as we go into a short winter hibernation. The Committee will renew acquaintances in mid-January when we have an away day to beat the work plan into shape and set ourselves some stretching but achievable goals. Yes, I said that. So shoot me…

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This entry was posted in Party policy and internal matters.


  • paul barker 22nd Nov '17 - 4:03pm

    Do you have an opinion on the behaviour of The FDP ?

  • Mick Taylor 22nd Nov '17 - 8:11pm

    I don’t know if Mark or the IRC have, but I do. The FDP have very sensibly refused to join a government at odds with the pledges on which they fought the election. They fought that election on a platform of change and the proposed coalition was going to deliver none of it. So as their leader said it is better not to rule than to rule badly. They accept they can’t get all their own way, but they were in fact offered none of it.
    Right choice by my German colleagues.

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