Mark Pack writes… Lisa Smart takes over as chair of the Lib Dem Communications and Elections Committee

Welcome to Cllr Lisa Smart (on the right in the photo), freshly elected as the new chair of the Federal Communications and Elections Committee (FCEC).

She’s written a piece for the party website introducing herself and her priorities:

Last week I received a call at home. I’d been fighting for a blue disabled parking badge for a local man with a hidden disability. He’d filled in all the forms, the reply came back, “Sorry, computer says no…” He’d complained, the reply still came back, “Sorry the computer still says no.” Then something that happens up and down our country happened to him. Someone pushed a Liberal Democrat leaflet through his door. In Pantone 1235c on the back in 3cm high letters he read ‘How can we help you?’ He jotted down his details and his problem. A fortnight later he has his pass. He told me it will be life changing. His wife was in tears.

This isn’t unique.

This is what we, all of us, do.

This is why we should be proud.

This is liberalism in the real world and it’s what makes us special.

For 30 years we Liberal Democrats have had the best manifesto but won too few seats. For 30 years we’ve been right on the big issues of the day. For 30 years we’ve worked and we won’t stop now but it is time we made a change…

The last General Election was a failure. For those successes we claim we must also claim our failures. So if you like me want to make a change it’s time to take the next step in our journey.

For me that means a new role as Chair of FCEC (Federal Communications and Elections Committee). It’s the party committee that oversees campaigns and communications and its primary goal is to get more Liberal Democrats elected.

I can hear your sarcasm from here, “a committee, that’ll solve it”. Maybe you’re right. But maybe you’re not. You see I know that we have an army of committed brilliant members and volunteers. I know we have a talented staff team too. I know we’re right to fight for what we believe in and deliver it every day to our communities. I know that you can win, but you need the tools to help your team.

You can see why I’m really looking forward to working with Lisa, someone I’ve gone out campaigning for over many years now. All through that time, she’s been a great motivator, an impressive builder of teams and a no-nonsense voice when things are going wrong. That’s just what we need.

* Mark Pack is Party President and is the editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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17 Comments

  • David Becket 16th Feb '20 - 4:25pm

    The first piece of good news that could indicate we are heading in the right direct.
    A northern Councillor, PPC and activist, nothing to do with the London Clique that got us into the mess.
    The first person from the campaigns team to admit the 2019 Election Campaign was a failure.

    And to this the appointment of the Election Review Team, again not packed out with the usual suspects, and we may be about to wake up.

  • Kathy Erasmus 17th Feb '20 - 7:58am

    Totally agree we do have the tools and the best and most committed activists in the country, what we don’t have is a clear message about our beliefs are. And we have the Libdem Greens that I only discovered 2 years after joining and that was only because somebody gave me a leaflet about a Green fringe meeting which I found really interesting . I stood as a councillor in a strong green area and had no idea that the LDG had been around since the 70’S. There is a lot of talk about putting Climate Change at the head of our future campaignS, this is where we will fail again. We are not an ambulance chasing 1 issue party,

  • Hopefully this is good news.

    Just remember that most of the idiotic decisions of the 2019 campaign surely went through the same committee – not only the big stuff like ‘revoke’ where the politics could (at the time) be seen as arguable – but the self-evidently nonsensical stuff like spending a lot of money mailing patently dishonest squeeze letters to voters in tons of obviously no-hope constituencies, and doing so early enough to allow the party to become ridiculed on social media. The presentation of our leader as “next PM” and the ‘presidential’ branding of the centrally produced leaflets. etc.

    Unless we have a committee where individual members are prepared to challenge obvious idiocy when they see it, there isn’t much hope.

    The real issue we have is an internal decision-making structure that looks like it has been designed by the original camel that was itself designed by a committee. With a network of committees all appointing reps to other committees, designed to entrench the status quo and make it difficult to steer away from the accepted wisdom of a relatively small group of people.

  • Brian Edmonds 17th Feb '20 - 10:29am

    Good news if it is recognised that our Comms were awful over the last few years. The failure to rebut the Tory/Leave slogans with a proactive attack left a vacuum where our offer should have been. Hence, the clumsy Revoke/Jo for PM message swamped everything else, exposing us to ridicule and disbelief.
    Jo’s personal communication skills are impressive, but when it came to the campaign it seems she lacked the vision, or the political authority, to impose clarity and discipline on the party. The idea that the cosy glow of the leader’s immediate circle and a gushing fan club of members will translate into electoral success was a delusion which spelt disaster for Corbyn, and did for us as well. Johnson won because he did not fall into that trap – when it comes to communications, the only appointment that really matters will be the choice of our new leader.

  • David Becket 17th Feb '20 - 11:16am

    Mark
    I hope you read this.

    Can you use your influence to close the web site down. Nothing about these appointments even in the members area. The first impressions are
    Flag waving Stop Brexit last summer, Vince Canvassing, Jo Speaking, more Vince Canvassing, asking for money.
    If you try and look up news it jumps around all over the place, and most news is out of date, Ed’s Christmas message, Sal’s last message and more of similar out of date information.

    Take a look at Labour List or Conservative Home, simple up to date messages, easy to read and easy to maintain.

    With this rubbish we do not look like a party of today, but the day before yesterday.

    Please use your influence and communication skills to stop this nonsense

  • @DavidBecket. An LD version of Labour List or Conservative Home would indeed be very useful, but bear in mind neither of those two blogs are official party sites, but run by supporters.

  • Mark Kenyon 17th Feb '20 - 4:10pm

    @LisaSmart – congrats and fantastic news, your article here is absolutely why you’re the best for the job

  • David Becket 17th Feb '20 - 5:55pm

    Ours is a very complicated web site, lots of flashing pictures (that get on your nerves). Our need is to get over news, that people might read.
    The official tory and labour web sites take a similar approach to ours, particular the Tory with lots of pictures of Johnson in crowds.
    We do not have those funds, so we need to employ a simpler approach that gets a message over without a lot of pictorial propaganda.

  • Neil Fawcett 19th Feb '20 - 12:42am

    @Ian – the Revoke policy didn’t go through this committee. It was a combination of the parliamentary party and Conference that decided it.

  • David Becket 19th Feb '20 - 11:54am

    I make the point again about the terrible web site hosted in the name of this party.

    It is rubbish.

    An important announcement today in the news, Zero Hours contracts, in relation to the employment statistics. Where was it on the web site, nowhere. Lots of Vince and begging but no important information.

    Aberavon and Neath web site contained the response from Ed. They also had recent articles on immigration, the Attorney General and Tory Power Grab.
    It is also readable, it does not jump around like a demented spider.

    Mark, if you read this, and you must as you started this thread, close this rubbish site down and hand it over to Aberavon and Neath.

    Another question. How much income has the Lib Dem site generated from begging since the election, and does it cover the cost of the site?

  • Just on Labour List, it is in theory, run by volounteers like LDV but it is heavily funded by Unions, to the point where it can employ a Full-Time Editor. LDV relies on Ads & a few donations from individual supporters.

  • David Evans 19th Feb '20 - 1:18pm

    @David Beckett. I think, but I may be wrong, that Aberavon and Neath website is actually automatically populated by Head Office posts. It looks like it was chosen to demonstrate how it can be done as a guide to other constituencies, particularly as it has very few posts solely relevant to the Constituency itself.

    But the clincher has to be that of all the parliamentary constituencies, it is first in alphabetical order – to plagiarise Terry Pratchett ‘that has to be a million to one chance’. 🙂

    On the other hand, if it is all down to the Kingston-Jones’s and Frank Little when he is not further enhancing his jet engine I think we need to clone a copy of each of them for every constituency across the country.

  • @Neil, I don’t think you can pass the buck so glibly. For sure, the big policy stuff might have been decided elsewhere, but the campaign plan and many of the tactics will have been discussed by this committee (else what’s the point of it?), and we ran the most self-destructive risible campaign of my lifetime, littered with quite obvious tactical mistakes. Indeed it is hard to think of anything positive to say about it.

    Anyone on that committee who didn’t protest loud and clear when these decisions were signed off has failed.

    Indeed it is likely that the whole labyrinthine committee process we have for making party decisions isn’t fit for purpose. The FB didn’t help, reappointing the same person to run the campaign as was widely criticised after the 2017 fiasco. We can only pray that, unlike this time, we manage to conduct an honest post-mortem and genuinely learn some lessons from it.

  • David Evans 19th Feb '20 - 1:46pm

    It’s interesting to hear that Mark thinks that Lisa is ‘a no-nonsense voice when things are going wrong. That’s just what we need.’

    It is definitely what we need, but I haven’t heard a word from her or Mark at any time over the last decade about the things going disatrously wrong. Maybe I’m not on the right committees.

  • David Becket 19th Feb '20 - 2:47pm

    @ David Evans
    I think you might be right. It is one of my other hobby horses that the party should be sending out appropriate messages on a daily basis. It is not expensive as long as you keep clear of flashy web sites that are an arm and leg to update. The messages can form an easy to read/update web site.

    On your second point our president has gone very quiet about the anger among party activists since he was elected. We are not getting leadership.

  • The word “failure”. I would say totally incompetent and a disaster. Have all those responsible been sacked yet?
    Seems we are more interested in kicking David Steel out of the party!

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