From the new chair of Federal Finance and Resources Committee

In common with other political parties, the Liberal Democrats have more than one ‘Treasurer’. Many of you will know Mike German as the ‘Party Treasurer’ responsible for fundraising and Dinesh Dhamija who is Mike’s deputy. Both Mike and Dinesh are responsible for getting ‘money in’ to the Party and you will have seen them at Federal Conference and at other fundraising events. Behind the scenes sits the Chair of the Federal Finance and Resources Committee (FFRC) who is responsible for ‘money out’ and, as far as the law and the Electoral Commission is concerned, is the ‘Registered’ Treasurer (RT) of the party. The RT is a non-executive (unremunerated) position which has oversight of the Federal Budget, the Federal Audit, and Compliance (including PPERA and GDPR). An active role, the RT has the final sign-off to mark donations as permissible or impermissible for Electoral Commission purposes.

Peter Dunphy has been fulfilling the RT role most ably for a number of years but is moving away from London and felt that the time had come to hand over the reins to somebody else who could be more available to London HQ on a regular basis. The RT is a position elected by the Federal Board and, after a hustings and a vote in May, I was elected to the position to succeed Peter formally on 1st July of this year.

I have spoken at Federal Conference many times, am treasurer for Newbury and West Berkshire Liberal Democrats (since 2015), sit on the local party executive, am vice-chair of my local Parish Council, and am an approved candidate for West Berkshire District Council in the 2019 elections. Until recently I was also co-chair of the Liberal Democrat Entrepreneur’s Network and with Andrew Dixon (President), and Tilly McAuliffe helped to grow the membership of that organisation to such a point that it became one of the largest donors to the Party in the 2017 election.

I am an entrepreneur. In 1989 I co-founded a UK software company which grew into a $150m international company and won four Queen’s Awards for Export. I exited via a management buy-out in 2007 and since that time have been an active Angel investor into over thirty SMEs so I have a lot of experience in strategic finance, accounting, and corporate governance from my own business and the businesses I have invested in. I am the Treasurer of Regent’s Park College, Oxford (an educational charity), sit on the finance committee of Kellogg College, Oxford and also on the Investor’s Committee for Oxford Capital Partners, a medium size venture capital company. In my ‘spare time’ I mentor for ‘Accelerate’, a young entrepreneurs programme at the Judge Business School in Cambridge and in 2007 went up to Oxford as a mature student graduating with a BA (Oxon) in 2010, an MA in 2011, and am finishing off my PhD at Cambridge this year. 

My objectives for the RT role are to use my skillset to help rebuild the Party’s capital base to pre-coalition levels, improve our compliance record (and eliminate fines), and assist local party treasurers in fulfilling their roles in local party finance and compliance reporting.

* Tony Harris is the Registered Treasurer of the Party and the Chair of the FFRC but in this case he is writing in a personal capacity.

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  • David Cooper 27th Jul '18 - 10:51am

    Great that the party has selected someone so sensible to continue doing this very difficult job.

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