Mark Pack on “the other elections”

Quite rightly, nearly all our attention now is on winning public elections: winning those council by-elections coming in before the general election and winning then in the general election too.

There is also the tail-end of the party’s internal elections, with voting closing at 5pm on Friday next week (8 November) and most likely, given some of the problems with the voting system, quite a few members still to vote. (If you haven’t yet received your ballot paper, [email protected] can assist.)

Those internal contests matter. They will determine, for example, who is on the Federal Policy Committee (FPC), the group that will oversee the next general election manifesto after this one – and what odds that’s within a year?

And, of course, they will determine who is going to be the next Party President, taking up office on January 1. Whatever the outcome of the general election, this will be a crucial period for the party and – especially if there is a hung Parliament – one that may bring some very difficult decisions too.

That will also then be a period in which our internal democracy, including the process for deciding whether to support a government involving another party, should come into its own. It’s not only right in principle – we’re a democratic, member-led party. It is also pragmatically beneficial – because if the party’s negotiators can play the ‘but party members won’t vote for this’ card, they can get a better deal.

By the time the next President takes office, this may all be done and dusted. (Fun thought: a December election followed by a hung Parliament could mean a Lib Dem special conference to agree what party does… on December 21st.) But even if it is, there will continue to be many decisions where listening to and acting on the views of members will be crucial.

The expertise of members makes for better decision-making and the involvement of members makes for a more motivated and successful party.

As the elected voice of the members, the Party President is central to ensuring this happens, and that’s what I’ll do if you elect me.

In the meantime, happy campaigning and good luck.

* Mark Pack is a member of the Federal Board and editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire. He is a candidate for Party President.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • James Belchamber 1st Nov '19 - 2:08pm

    And we find out this morning that a bunch of votes have been invalidated, with people being told to vote again 🤦

    The next President needs to get their hands dirty and make sure the party is getting the fundamentals right.

  • Laura Sykes 1st Nov '19 - 2:19pm

    Looking on the bright side, James: when people have to vote again, anyone who didn’t vote for Mark first time round will be questioning their priorities ;>)

  • I am one of those who votes were invalidated. I would much have preferred to have been asked if I wished to vote again, rather than having my vote expunged bilaterally. I spent a long time considering the options, having struggled to access the site initially. Save for voting again for my presidential choice, I simply have neither the time nor the inclination to repeat the process for the remaining categories. Not especially happy.

  • Given the typos in my first post members will be pleased to know I won’t be producing or proofreading any election material…

  • It’s an unfortunate case of ‘vote early? vote often!’ as the invalidated votes are from those who voted promptly after the polls opened. Lots we need to learn about what went wrong and how to minimise the risk of any repeats.

  • I’ve asked the Federal Appeals Panel to look at this. Nothing in the rules gives the Returning Officer power to discount people’s votes in this way.

  • What a fiasco!

    I get emailed a link. The link directs straight to a “top busy” error message, and this continues for the first two days until HQ emails again to say, “ignore the link, go to this website”

    So I go to the website and spend ages filling in the very long ballot papers.

    Now apparently HQ has unilaterally decided that my votes have been “invalidated” (how is that even possible)? I have replied insisting that my votes count as cast.

    Incompetence like this isn’t a good omen.

  • Paul Murray 3rd Nov '19 - 11:43am

    I voted last weekend although the website was clearly under extraordinary pressure – the tech support person from the hosting company told me it was because all party members got the email at once, rather than it being throttled into batches as planned.

    Having read this thread I went back and found that all the elections were available for me to vote in again – suggesting that either I have the opportunity to vote twice or that my previous votes were cancelled.

    But I don’t know which since I have not received any further communication from the party to tell me if the votes cast last weekend were not counted.

  • Paul – can you check your spam folders etc. You should have had an email from Nick Harvey beginning (if its’ the same as mine) “Important update on your internal election vote”

    If some people who’s votes have been cancelled are not getting the communications that this has happened this isn’t an election that can safely be allowed to continue

  • Paul Murray 3rd Nov '19 - 1:01pm

    Thanks, Hywel. Using the subject field you supplied I have now found an email timed at 15:59 on Friday, November 1st.

    I may have deleted it because the synopsis line says “IMPORTANT : You have not yet voted in the Lib De..” and I may have fleetingly thought “Yes I have” before hitting delete.

  • I appreciate there are ‘other things’ going on but I’m a bit surprised (indeed that context maybe makes it more important) that LDV hasn’t run something to updated people on the party elections and the vote cancelling/ date extension issue.

    As you can see above at least some people had not realised about the vote cancelling issue so possibly the extended vote had passed people by as well.

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