Jenny Randerson AM: why I want to lead the Welsh Liberal Democrats

Once upon a time, Wales was full of hope for the future. The narrowly won referendum on the creation of Assembly had ushered in a new period for Wales. The idea that ‘never again’ could an “English” Government wreak devastation across the country as they had in the eighties, provided the prospect of a bright future for Wales.

Nearly ten years have now passed and Labour is approaching the half way point of its third term in office. The promised transformation of Welsh services and society has not yet come to pass. Wales is still the poorest nation of the UK; health, wealth and happiness inequalities are still obscene and Wales still lags behind the rest of the UK in many key indicators.

As a party, we have made great strides in many areas of government in the last ten years. We are THE party of Welsh local government, sharing control of more councils than any other party, we have doubled our MPs, now representing urban as well as rural areas and next year, we have the best opportunity in decades to elect a Welsh Lib Dm MEP. But despite all of this, we have consistently underperformed in each Assembly Election. We are six AMs, facing an intimidating Government majority, and shouting from the sidelines.

It is time for a change. It is time we set ourselves real achievable targets to get us out of this electoral stalemate, and set out very clearly how we are going to do it.

Nick’s target of doubling our MPs has given the party, for the first time in many years, something clear to work towards. It has allowed the reform of party structures to begin in earnest, and it has shown us the path towards transforming British politics forever. For too many years, we fought hard for liberal ideals, without any clear pathway to implementing them on a national level. Now, we can see how we can get there.

So I have set a target of doubling our AMs by the Assembly election after next. This will be tough but achievable, hard work, but with great potential for us and for Wales.

In the last ten years, we have professionalised large parts of the Welsh party, we now have a professional media team, professional research and administration teams and have just moved in to a modern HQ in Cardiff. But as someone who has served on party committees for decades, I am all too aware that many of our party structures are not yet suitable for a modern party. That does not mean taking power away from our members, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Its about making the most of our membership and bringing more and more people into the party processes.

So, if elected, I’ll make sure we look at how we can become more professional and what exactly we need to do to meet those targets.

We, like all parties, do not have the numbers of members that we need. But I think that there is something more fundamentally wrong. That is why, instead of just promising to increase membership, I will set a target that a quarter of our membership should come from the age range of 16-21.

Reaching out to young people would be a cornerstone of my leadership. As well as the targets on membership, I will establish a youth academy to foster the involvement of young Welsh Lib Dems, helping them take those first steps on the ladder to Westminster or the Assembly.

Ultimately, political parties have to continually look critically at themselves and always be on the lookout for new ideas and ways of spreading our message. I believe that I have the experience and the vision to change us for good, to make us ready for government and bring the electoral success, at every level that we so badly need.

You can see my full vision for Wales here and my vision and plans for the party here.

It’s time for Wales and the Welsh party to punch above our weight, to do our bit and reclaim the radical ground. I hope I have the chance to steer that vision as leader.

* Jenny Randerson is the Liberal Democrat member of the Welsh Assembly for Cardiff Central, , and a contender to be the party’s next leader in Wales in succession to Mike German AM. You can find her campaign website at www.jennyforchange.org.uk.

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This entry was posted in Leadership Election, Op-eds and Wales.
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2 Comments

  • Redundant Swine 27th Nov '08 - 9:40am

    I don’t understand why Ms Randerson keeps talking about change like she has never had an opportunity to acheive this?

    She has been sat at the top of the party structure for many years. If she has been serious about change she could have achieved it already. It’s just a phrase she thinks can win her the contest. Our members will see through it.

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