Lord Newby writes… Pick a Peer

Almost a year ago, I laid down a challenge to the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords – probably the largest group of Liberal Democrats in any legislature in the world.

I felt strongly that we needed to do more to work with constituency parties to tell the story of how we are influencing legislation and debate on a daily basis, both to members and to wider groups.

So it was with that in mind that I set the group the target of making 1,000 constituency visits between now and the General Election. And today I can report with some satisfaction that they are right on course to do so, with a third of the target already reached.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. A recent visit by Margaret Sharp to Wokingham in torrent weather conditions provoked local chair Tahir Maher to say: “Everyone thought that Margaret was excellent and their spirits were lifted – keen to continue the fight.” Three days later Tom McNally was in Brentwood and Ongar to give a speech to activists described as “very interesting and inspirational” by councillor Karen Chilvers.

Such visits are being used not only to explain not only to members what we are doing in government, but to do the same to wider audiences. So I’ve been pleased to see many visits have involved media appearances and visits to local organisations – whether business groups, schools or health facilities.

But, while we’ve made an encouraging start, we still have some way to go. So I’m renewing my call for all constituency parties who would like to have a peer to visit them to contact me. I will then attempt to organise it. My email address is [email protected] Bear in mind that I am likely to need peers to attend the Lords on Mondays to Wednesdays when the House is sitting in order to vote, so I’d appreciate it if you avoided these days. But, while not guaranteeing that we will be able to meet every last request, we will otherwise do our best to get someone to you.

It is now less than two years to a General Election which will be absolutely pivotal to our party and country. I and my colleagues in the Lords want to use as much of our time as we can to ensure Liberal Democrats go into it in the strongest position possible. So help us meet our challenge and see how we’re helping you.

* Dick Newby is the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.

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