Federal People Development Committee Report – 30 January 2018

The Party’s Federal People Development Committee have had our first meeting of 2018. There was a lot to discuss – here is a quick summary of what we talked about and agreed.

First up we made a couple of important amendments to our Standing Orders. The first amendment was to create the role of Committee Clerk. This is a volunteer role, to assist the Secretary. The Clerk is not a voting member of our committee, they are purely there to help supply administrative support for the Chair and Secretary. The Committee felt this was a good way to “live our values” as the cliché goes, of using volunteers more widely to increase capacity. We later appointed a member called Nicola from Somerset to be the first post-holder of this role. In future if this vacancy arises again, it will be advertised as a potential volunteer opportunity.

The other amendments to our Standing Orders were to help the Membership and Training SubCommittees function properly. The membership of these groups was previously limited to two representatives from each State Party. That remains true today, but the Subcommittees can now co-opt more people, to help get more work done.

Then we moved on to Staff Reports. These are a routine part of our meetings. We currently receive reports from the Director for People, Rachel Palma Randle, who also reports on Membership figures while we await the appointment of the new Head of Membership and Engagement (if you would like to apply, the advert is still open until 19th Feb here )

We also received reports from Dan Purchese, Head of Training and Arfan Bhatti, Head of Candidates and Diversity. We are working with all the staff to try to expand the engagement, training and membership work that they provide. Expect to read more about those projects here on LDV as they come to fruition.

As you might expect, we had a substantial discussion about the implications of the Alderdice Report on the experience of members from Ethnic Minority groups. We feel that in the wake of the report our planned “Who’s Missing?” campaign (scheduled for this summer) feels particularly appropriate. The idea of the campaign is to ask local parties to reflect on the make-up of their constituency, and then look at their members and activists and ask themselves, “who’s missing?”. For example, in a big University town, there should be a considerable student presence in our members and activists. If there is a sizeable ethnic minority community with a shared background, are they well represented in our members and activists?

There will need to be a lot more work on this, and a lot of different bodies will be involved in the efforts to improve our Party’s diversity. We did say that we were concerned that sometimes the Party in the past has talked a good talk on diversity, but then priorities shift and funding promises dry up. We all felt this was an opportunity that was too important to be missed and are dedicated to making the changes needed. We will be coming forward with other projects across the year as they develop.

Other business included appointing Alice Thomas to the Party’s new working group on the implications of the Committee for Standards in Public Life’s report on recent political behaviour. You can read the CSPL report hereh

We also discussed an important item about standards of behaviour for our members. With the other parties in turmoil, we are attracting some new members who are defecting from other political homes. In the Labour Party there is currently some very unpleasant transphobia masquerading as feminism. A committee member raised a concern about how we should respond to people who join our party who share these troubling views.

The view of the committee was overwhelming – we stand for acceptance, tolerance and equality. If people join and expect to tout their hatred of any person for their appearance, gender, orientation or any other aspect of their personality, then they should be reported to the Party and disciplined using our internal procedures. This ended with a really helpful discussion of how to share the Member’s Code of Conduct more widely, so expect to see more on that soon.

We meet next in late March, so look out for another report on LDV soon after that.

* Miranda Roberts is Chair of the Liberal Democrats' Federal People Development Committee

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5 Comments

  • Geoffrey Payne 12th Feb '18 - 12:29pm

    It is far more likely that people will join us from Labour because they object to the transphobia that exists in that party. Although lets be fair, Jeremy Corbyn has argued against it.
    Anyone considering joining us should check out the preamble of our constitution which defines what a Liberal Democrat is and then make up their mind whether it is something they can sign up to; https://www.libdems.org.uk/constitution

  • Laurence Cox 12th Feb '18 - 12:48pm

    “The first amendment was to create the role of Committee Clerk. This is a volunteer role, to assist the Secretary. The Clerk is not a voting member of our committee, they are purely there to help supply administrative support for the Chair and Secretary. The Committee felt this was a good way to “live our values” as the cliché goes, of using volunteers more widely to increase capacity. ”

    As a volunteer at HQ (in the candidates office) I’m very pleased to see this. It will help to rebuild links between HQ and the wider party. My best wishes for your committee and I hope that other Party committees will look at what you are doing.

  • Thank you all for your work. Is there any chance we could produce regular Membership figures & make some attempt to publicise them ? That would we a welcome contrast to the secrecy of The Tories & the silence of Labour.

  • OnceALibDem 12th Feb '18 - 7:29pm

    You could explain more widely the responsiblity of local parties to accept members who support the values of the party.

    The constitution says, “An applicant shall become a member on acceptance by the enrolling body….” A few checks could ensure that people who basically aren’t liberal aren’t allowed to become members in the first place.

  • “The view of the committee was overwhelming – we stand for acceptance, tolerance and equality. If people join and expect to tout their hatred of any person for their appearance, gender, orientation or any other aspect of their personality.”

    These are fine words and no-one can disagree with them as they are “motherhood and apple pie”. In practice, they lead to difficult issues on how we balance freedom of speech and non-conformity against “hatred”.

    And I hope we are careful as a party not to curtail free speech among our members but also where discipline from the party might have real effect among our candidates, and elected representatives too much.

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