I have high hopes for the next three years – let’s get to work!

It’s been just weeks since Brexit ended my brief term as an MEP, but today I’m very happy to announce that I’ve been elected as Chair of the Federal People Development Committee.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the outstanding training and support offered by the party.

Like many of you reading this, I’m a relative newcomer to politics and to the Lib Dems. I joined in 2016, so I think I bring a fresh perspective to this role as a newbie. I’m eager to help the party expand and improve on its strategy, structures and processes for recruiting, engaging and activating members.

Although it’s been a short time, I’m no stranger to campaigns, at any level. In addition to winning election to European Parliament last May, I currently serve as a Hertfordshire County Councillor and stood for Parliament in 2017. I think that I’m a good example of what is possible if you engage a new member and provide the right resources. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the outstanding training and support offered by the party.

Just a few months after joining I was able to attend my first party conference. I spent nearly the entire time in training sessions. Clearly I got a taste for it, attending my first ALDC Kickstart weekend a few months later with other members of my local party. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to attend more conferences and more training events. Our face-to-face training opportunities are unparalleled – but the percentage of members who can access that face-to-face training is minuscule. We haven’t been quite as strong at providing other forms of training and resources. That’s something I’m keen to change.

The Liberal Democrats are already leading the way in modern campaigning, and I look forward to supporting this in my new role.

In the past four years, our party membership has boomed, meaning that newbies now outnumber long-time members. We need, now more than ever, to quickly develop the knowledge and skills of a larger number of people than ever before. Add to that the fast-changing landscape of UK politics and new and innovative ways to engage voters, and it’s clear that we can’t just do what has worked in the past. The Liberal Democrats are already leading the way in modern campaigning, and I look forward to supporting this in my new role.

Outside of the Liberal Democrats, I have spent 25 years in the corporate world, and 10 years training and lecturing, including developing learning content both for face-to-face and online learning. I have also led a large voluntary organisation. I can’t wait to bring this experience to the role and to work closely with both staff and FPDC members to take our people development strategies, structures and resources to the next level. We have an outstanding committee, including a diverse mix of perspectives and experiences. I have high hopes for the next three years – let’s get to work!

* Barbara Gibson is a former MEP for the East of England (2019-20) and the new Chair of the Party's Federal People's Development Committee.

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7 Comments

  • John Marriott 23rd Mar '20 - 7:01pm

    Barbara, don’t you know that there’s a war on?

  • Barbara, your energy and enthusiasm is very infectious. I hope and believe you will do a great job in an important role.
    That said, can we please change the dreadful name of your committee? This might seem trivial but it is not. In rebuilding this party we need to start as we mean to go on, and that means communicating clearly and succinctly with our members and the wider world. The ‘Federal People Development Committee’??? So, what’s that about then? It sounds like we want to develop some federal people, whatever they are.
    Before you explain, I do actually know what the name means and why it was chosen, but that’s because I’m a sad party hack of 30 years standing and this kind of internal corporate language has become second nature to me (sadly). But think of a non-political person, or a new member we are trying to enthuse. “Hey, great to have you on board. Why don’t you stand for our federal people Development committee?” It’s hardly “I have a dream,” is it?
    Seriously, please change the name to something sensible and meaningful. That should not take a special vote or a working group – you’re the chair, just do it. If we are to revive this party we need to start using sane, sensible language in our own internal processes as well as in communicating our policies and values. Your committee does interesting and important work, and its aim should be to inspire people. So let’s give it a name that shows that. This matters.

  • I feel rather guilty responding to this post at a time when the nation faces an existential threat, but I’m afraid that reading this piece depressed me even more than I was already.
    Having worked in the public sector I am fully conversant with the school of thought which says that there is nothing that can’t be solved by more courses, more training, as if the people on the front line don’t know whats going on and what needs to be done. Anyway, what is wrong with learning politics the traditional way “on the job”, by going out and fighting elections, writing focuses and knocked on doors.
    “The Liberal Democrats are leading the way in modern campaigning”. Good to hear, must be the reason why we have so many MPs.

  • Could I just say Thanks to my local Team for bringing me round some Paracetamol, Libdem Values in action.

  • From the Guardian: Coronavirus measures could cause global food shortage, UN warns.

    Exclusive: Protectionist policies and shortage of workers could see problems start within weeks

    “Countries such as the UK, with a sinking currency and high level of imports, are also likely to see food price rises unless the government takes action or retailers absorb some of the costs, he said.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/mar/26/coronavirus-measures-could-cause-global-food-shortage-un-warns

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