Nick Clegg announces review into local and Euro election campaigns

Nick Clegg LBC squareOn his weekly phone-in today, Nick Clegg announced that the Chair of the party’s Campaigns and Communications Committee, James Gurling, would lead a review into our election campaign and strategy which would take advice from a  wide range of party members in all parts of the country where we did well and where we did badly.

I was very keen that the grassroots should be able to contribute to this and James Gurling replied to me on Twitter to say that this would be the case:


West Dorset candidate Ros Kayes tweeted her support for the initiative:

I have said to him that it’s important that all members have a chance to contribute their thoughts  and we will keep you posted on how you do that.

Don’t forget, as well, that there is a “Conversation with the Federal Executive” thread going on in our Members’ Forum. Come and join in with that. All ideas will be taken forward. 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Shaun Cunningham 29th May '14 - 1:52pm

    Since joining the coalition the lib Dems have lost 1700 councillors (43%), 11 MEPs and their vote share has dropped from 23% at the last general election to 13% in the local elections and below 7% in the Euros. We now have the smallest local government base since 1980.

    We need to ask the question. Who is responsible ? This leadership seem to have none and yet they have lost the doorstep. Their answer …HOPE.

    Sorry time for change.

  • paul barker 29th May '14 - 1:59pm

    This is great, now all those members who could have run a much better campaign can talk to The Review team & stop posting on sites where they give comfort to our rivals & enemies.

  • Kevin White 29th May '14 - 2:00pm

    There is nothing that can be done to change the public’s perception of Clegg. He is toxic and must go.

  • Neale Upstone 29th May '14 - 2:01pm

    There’s plenty of material for that review right here on LDV.

    We’ve done badly because the coalition has not been made to work.

    Some LibDems in government have done great, but overall, the delivery of the Coalition agreement, and more importantly, ensuring the Coalition stuck to common ground respecting both parties values, has failed.

    We were sold the coalition on the basis of the economy and environment – “The Greenest Government Ever”. It was LDs responsibility to show that coalitions can be powerful in ensuring that manifesto promises are kept to.

    Tuition fees should have been our only black mark and we should have learned from it.

  • I give up completely.
    11 months from a general election and only one week from Newark and we decide to set up a review of last week.
    For Gods sake its obvious to someone from Mars what is wrong. Just another bluff to divert attention from the real issues.

  • Richard Dawson 29th May '14 - 2:09pm

    Excellent ! I think Lynne Featherstone’s comments on the BBC on Election Night were really key we must learn to speak Human again and thats the appeal of Farage and Boris. I think Nick and others have too many Spin Doctors/Special Advisers etc around them.The communications team around the leader seem to have changed a lot with quite a bit of staff turnover.What does that tell us about the leadership and for that matter about the people we recruit to advise them.If the Coalition has mechanisms like the quad the party should have something similar say Leader,Party President,A Council Leader and a Local Activist.

  • Indeed, I agree with most of the above posters. While a review to take stock of what’s happened is always welcome, the truth is that we all know what the problem is – the lack of public trust in Clegg, Clegg’s agenda, Clegg’s leadership style, and Clegg’s total lack of coherent strategy. This smacks to me of desperation by the leadership, a token gesture to reassure the membership that they’re not as out of it as so many of us believe them to be.

    And what happens if the review confirms such findings? We wait until 6 months out, or 3 months out, before the election, before tackle this head on?

  • Maggie Smith 29th May '14 - 2:22pm

    @Dave Page
    Is this something that came into existence at the moment Mr Clegg said it?

    Or has it been there all along and you guys didn’t know about it…OR…

    Was you pulling our legs?

  • Lord Ashdown of Norton Sub Post Office GCMG, OMG. has had to get embroiled again .

    Poor old Paddy he is supposed to be retired and enjoying his vegetable patch.
    Instead he has to keep stepping in to help shore up Clegg.
    Paddy took on the job of running the General Election which we all welcomed, but I doubt he would have done so if he had foreseen that most of his time would be spent picking up the pieces after a series of Clegg disasters.

    At least they are not making Paddy talk about cake this time. That really was an own goal.
    If there is enough room to score an own goal when you are hunkered down in a bunker, moving imaginary regiments around a map to fight off the members of your own party, allowed out only for carefully choreographed photo opportunities. Is it Macbeth or Berlin 1945 ?

  • I do think this should have been communicated to the members by Nick, , rather than letting the membership hear about it for the first time on the radio. I wonder if Nick sometimes forgets that he is the Leader of the Lub Dems rather than the DPm of the UK.

  • Oops Lib Dems not LubDems. Dyslexic keyboard!

  • I will be very surprised if it’s not a hand-picked selection of grass-roots who happen to agree with the current strategy, although there will of course be some minor changes given as scraps.

  • Jake Thomas 29th May '14 - 2:37pm

    Problem is that Clegg is more disliked now that Brown ever was. After Labour ditched Brown their poll ratings recovered more or less instantly. We need to time the handover right so we can maxiumise the stupidity of the general public.

  • Looks like anotherdiversion is dead in the water!
    Lets deal with the real issue/s

  • Bill Le Breton 29th May '14 - 2:52pm

    We have the best campaigners in the country. Not all of them get used. Nor am I talking about people Who campaign by numbers based on Chris Rennard’s Winning Elections Target 1992 which I believe was a re-write of Winning Elections Target 1906 that my friend Lord Bonkers wrote so helpfully over a hundred years ago. No I mean instinctive street fighting campaigners once capable of winning a city wide election in Britain’s great cities live Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Bristol, Watford , Oxford, Cambridge , Portsmouth etc..

    We just need a figure head for their campaigns who is a) trusted and b) actually likely to be used on the campaign material of our MPs and. Campaigners.

    ok. Who used Clegg this time? I didn’t,t see him once used on a NW election leaflet. So what good is a review …. Or will it conclude that the cause of the failure of the campaign was not enough prominence given to Clegg.

  • David White 29th May '14 - 2:55pm

    Oh yeah? Well, I shan’t hold my breath until I receive my invitation to contribute to the Orange Bookers policy review.

  • Maybe the Review should be localised rather than centralised. A sample of say 75 local parties could convene a special, quorate meeting to discuss what worked and what went wrong and what can be done to win more voters in time for 2015 or at least to stop the downward slide? Just a thought.

  • @theakes
    Some have called for a review. Now that one is here, it is being called a diversion

  • Bill le Breton 29th May '14 - 3:57pm

    If the people calling it a diversion are not the ones who were calling for one, is that so strange. Come on you can do better than that from behind your anonymity.

  • Richard Harris 29th May '14 - 3:59pm

    Surely a campaign “review” simply implies that it was the campaign that was the problem, rather than something more fundamental? leadership telling the members that there’s not an issue with leadership.

    Hope you are all reassured.

  • Steve Griffiths 29th May '14 - 4:09pm

    An immediate review is a start if it is acted upon quickly and they actually listen to the grass roots and seasoned, successful campaigners and activists. But does he mean it? Or will it be a Sir Humphrey Appleby style one where;

    “…they will give it the most serious and urgent consideration, and insist on a thorough and rigorous examination of all the proposals, allied to a detailed feasibility study and budget analysis before producing a consultative document for consideration by all interested bodies and seeking comments and recommendations to be included in a brief for a series of working parties who will produce individual studies which will provide the background for a more wide-ranging document considering whether or not the proposal should be taken forward to the next stage. “

  • Tony Greaves 29th May '14 - 4:37pm

    If you are so blind you cannot see the obvious you need a “review”. It is called the long grass. It also means that TPTB are scared witless by what has happened and they have not got a single idea of what to do about it. And anyone who states the obvious will be subject to abuse by a group of besuited courtiers whose experience of real life and real politics outside the Bubble can be written on your little finger nail.

    As for my noble friend he’s not in the bunker, he’s in the Wheelhouse with the rest of the leadership. Sailing us straight into the iceberg.


  • @Tony Greaves
    Well if it is so obvious that a big change is needed, why is it that neither Cable nor Hughes is calling for it? Are you saying they value their jobs in government above the future of the party?

  • I have looked in my copy of the constitution but couldn’t find the Campaigns and Communication Committee. Is it a sub-committee of the Federal Executive? I have this vague idea that the Party Leader appoints the chair. Does he also appoint everyone on it? Is Paddy the chair?

    Why hasn’t the Federal Executive appointed a group of independent people to carry out this review?

  • Bill le Breton 29th May '14 - 5:00pm

    James Gurling is a very pleasant decent person. He would never let a fellow down intentionally. He is also Royalty in the Liberal Democrats which has become important in these post-revolutionary days. It is rather like asking Prince Andrew to chair a commission looking it to whether to allow women into membership of the Travellers Club.

    Sorry James to sound such a cad

  • Anders Hanson 29th May '14 - 5:04pm

    The Campaigns and Communications Committee is, I believe, a sub-committee of the Federal Finance & Administration Committee which is itself a committee of the Federal Executive. It’s alluded to in the last paragraph of section 8.2 of the party constitution

  • paul barker 29th May '14 - 5:08pm

    I see the Anti-Clegg brigade have stopped talking about Oakeshotts “Grass Roots Petition”, the one run by paid staff in his office. Surely they arent embarrassed ?

  • @ Voter It’s time for a change at the top.
    And Voter – The first to call for a change and stand is unlikely to get the prize.
    So Voter who would you vote for and why?

  • jedibeeftrix 29th May '14 - 5:40pm

    The message. The message. The message.

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th May '14 - 5:48pm

    @Phyllis 29th May ’14 – 3:14pm :
    “Maybe the Review should be localised rather than centralised. A sample of say 75 local parties could convene a special, quorate meeting to discuss what worked and what went wrong and what can be done to win more voters in time for 2015 or at least to stop the downward slide? Just a thought.”

    Apart from limiting the review to 75 local parties, I think this is an excellent idea!

    Submissions to be back with the Federal Executive to review with Nick Clegg and the Parliamentary party by end of June. Still leaves time for a pre-Autumn leadership election if required. Bottom-Up consultation, no long grass or lengthy time scales. All options open. Also, if there remains significant pressure for change, Tim Farron (etc?) will be able to mount a challenge without being blatantly ‘disloyal’. Clearly very many (myself included) retain a sense of personal if not political loyalty towards Clegg. Regarding the latter point, you only need to see our missing names from the LibDems4Change list! We know who we are!

  • @Doug
    For whom would I vote in a leadership contest? Well, I am not a member of the party

  • Peter Chegwyn 29th May '14 - 7:58pm

    I’d have more confidence in a review that wasn’t led by the very people who helped get us into the current mess!

    It sounds like a ‘sop’ designed to suggest that the Leadership are listening to their critics when, in truth, nothing looks like changing.

  • Peter Watson 29th May '14 - 8:02pm

    @paul barker “I see the Anti-Clegg brigade have stopped talking about Oakeshotts “Grass Roots Petition”, the one run by paid staff in his office.”
    I’d missed that news. Where is it reported?

  • Stephen Donnelly 29th May '14 - 8:03pm

    I am willing to give this review a chance but it should listen to all members, and be conducted in an open and transparent way. A series of open hearings might be useful. I suggest that all member receive a direct invitation, by-passing the layers of the party that stand between the membership, and the leadership they elected. Members of Federal committees, MP’s and Lords should have no greater access than a humble leaflet deliverer.

  • Is it normal for reviews of this sort to be announced on radio programmes?

  • Martin Land 29th May '14 - 8:25pm

    Is it true that the Band on the Titanic kept playing as the ship went down?

  • paulbarker
    I would be interested in your answer to Peter Watson’s question.

  • Sorry I missed that James Gurling is the chair of the Campaigns and Communications Committee (I wonder if we once did agent training together sometime in the early 1990’s?)

    @ Bill le Breton – thank you. I thought there was some reference somewhere – “The Federal Executive shall also have regard to the desirability of establishing subcommittees responsible for … campaigning and elections … The members of such sub-committees shall be elected at the first meeting of the Federal Executive in every odd-numbered year and shall serve for a term of two years.” I wonder where I got the idea that the Chair was appointed by the Party Leader?

  • Sorry should have been thank you Anders Hanson.

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th May '14 - 8:50pm

    @Stephen Donnelly
    I am a humble 2-ward Focus deliverer! My suggestion regarding local parties submissions going via the Federal Committee and being presented to the (full) Parliamentary party was to prevent genuine local views disappearing into a London office with some very luxuriant grass. It was absolutely not to place barriers in the way of the views of ordinary members and parties. Any review must be as inclusive and transparent as possible; otherwise it would just be a total waste of time and effort!

    @Martin Land – Many of us can see the iceberg looming but we haven’t hit it as yet. But without a change of Captain, heading or both however we will.

  • Peter Hayes 29th May '14 - 9:18pm

    In my ward we got the one free posted leaflet for the Euros and 4 or 5 local focuses with no reference to Graham Watson. Net result, held the council seat and came third in the Euro elections. Far to parochial in an area where we had a strong presence.

  • Stephen Hesketh 29th May '14 - 9:28pm

    Following Iain BB’s link I also read with very genuine concern “Finally, he plans to start spelling out what he calls his party’s “forward offer” long before the next election. As we speak, policy ideas drawn up by David Laws are being inspected and polished for presentation to the public. ”

    Even if I haven’t signed the petition yet (and it is becoming YET), this is why Clegg’s direction must be changed (one way or the other). Our party is Liberal, Democratic and a radical centre-left alternative to Labour. It is not the personal centre-right fiefdom of Clegg and Co.

  • “The review is A SHAM — IT’S OFFICIAL” ….. as headline writers used to say.

    Well spotted Iain bb. – so Clegg and Gurling spin via LBC pretending there will be a full and frank review.
    Whilst The Bumker are briefing tha BBC saying Clegg will carry on singing from the Orange Hymn Book.

    The plan that has not worked in any of the last seven years, will be imposed on us again if Clegg remains.

    iain bb 29th May ’14 – 9:00pm
    Clegg’s people have been out briefing the press. Nick Robinson has been fed the line : –

  • The disaster continues, Laws creating policies in the run up to the General election, forget the lost voters, concentrate on the imaginary ones in his head.

  • I wouldn’t publicise that David Laws has been responsible for drawing up new policies. Whilst he’s a LiBDem MP that the public might know and remember, this is not a good thing. Expenses anyone?

  • Tony Greaves 29th May '14 - 10:55pm

    “Is it true that the Band on the Titanic kept playing as the ship went down?”

    Yes. The Bandmaster was Wallace Hartley who lived, and went to chapel, in my ward in Colne.

    I will not repeat the mistake.


  • Although to be fair the band playing on was considered a noble act. Yet as for the lesser-known, yet oft-mentioned deckchair rearrangement exercise . . .

  • No Lib Dem on Question Time tonight! And no question on the Lib Dems either! It seems that after last weekend the Party is being ignored as irrelevent? . Need that Review to be conducted very quickly.

  • Stephen Campbell 30th May '14 - 12:32am

    I don’t know how your party works, as I’ve only been a Liberal Democrat voter (and sometimes online advocate) up until around 2011 and never a member. That said, you gave the impression you were highly democratic party where policy was not decided by those at the top alone, especially Nick Clegg and David Laws. Further, it’s almost as if the Liberal Democrats are laughing in the face of the electorate by letting Laws remain in such a prominent position within the party. Here’s another area where Clegg has failed utterly, and one not caused by coalition: he had a chance to prove he was committed to the “new politics” by doing the opposite of what New Labour did and refusing to re-employ disgraced ministers. Yet, after a quick sorry and time out, Laws is back in the fold whereas in Real Life, almost any of us would’ve been sacked from our jobs had we broken six different rules with regards to our expenses.

    Keeping people such as Laws in the fold is even more evidence that this party is doomed. By continuing the ugly tradition of bringing back politicians who have been found in breach of their code of conduct, you are holding the electorate in contempt. As I’ve said, I voted for the Liberal Democrats for 10 years. I gave up in 2011, after being an initial supporter of coalition when it became clear that Clegg had capitulated to the Tories. It became obvious after the tuition fees fiasco that instead of seeing our many “compromises” as a necessary evil of coalition, Clegg actively agreed with most Tory policy. He decided from the Rose Garden onward that coalition was going to look and sound harmonious and he ended up “owning” Tory policy more stridently than some Tories (as they seem to, at least, have the courage to rebel en mass against their leader from time to time). Your MPs could have all voted against tuition fees and the bill most likely would have still passed. Yet, with few brave exceptions, your MPs decided to follow the Dear Leader’s “harmony” strategy. And look where that got you! A rump party with the leader who is a figure of ridicule, disgust and the epitome of the “old poltics”: the PR, focus-group kind of politics you said you would abolish. While looking straight in our eyes. And you still debate why you’re in this situation….?

    And the Cleggies seem to never accept the possibility that someone could disagree with the direction you have gone. Oh no. Anyone who doesn’t agree or does not vote Liberal Democrat simply “isn’t getting the message” and you’re not “telling your story loud enough”. Until this party gets these two facts: 1. we get the message and 2. we just don’t like the message, you’ll never begin to recover. We, the electorate, are tired of being talked down to by all parties, yours almost above all. When are you going to stop blaming the voters and realise the problem might actually -gasp- be with yourselves and what you have done in government?

    And, no, I’m not a Labour troll or a stop-the-world Kipper. Until (if ever) the Liberal Democrats offer a genuine centre-left platform and are not only honest, but treat us like adults, I’ll be voting Green.

  • Shaun Cunningham 30th May '14 - 7:40am

    Party member having ones post removed because it’s critical of the leadership. What a sad day.

  • Phyllis 30th May ’14 – 12:23am
    No Lib Dem on Question Time tonight! And no question on the Lib Dems either! It seems that after last weekend the Party is being ignored as irrelevent? .

    Phyllis , the media invite Conservative, Labour, UKIP, SNP, Green Party and Plaid Cymru to send MPs or MEPs because they are real political parties, which get real votes in real elections.

    Not enough seats on Question Time for Imaginary parties who consult with imaginary members to review what votes they might have got if only people would understand “the one true path” of the Orange Book (praise be upon it).

    Newark has a real election next week. Can you imagine what the result will be?

  • Phil Rimmer 30th May '14 - 8:46am

    A review is simply a way of Clegg doing nothing until after the General Election. Clegg isn’t up to the job and needs to go., now, whilst there is still a chance of repairing some of the damage.

  • Stephen Cambell
    And, no, I’m not a Labour troll or a stop-the-world Kipper. Until (if ever) the Liberal Democrats offer a genuine centre-left platform and are not only honest, but treat us like adults, I’ll be voting Green.

    Stephen Campbell
    The “voting Green until Clegg goes” section of the electorate has been ignored in LDV discussions.
    LDV has an obsession with UKIP but cannot quite cope with the growth of the Green vote.
    Clegg and those that cling on to him, are in denial about the Green Party.

    One local councillor in South West London (and there are not many of those left nowadays) informed me that for the first time in their life they had cast a vote in the Euros for a party other than Liberal because they could not in all conscience do anything that could be of help to Clegg.
    Sarah Ludford was a excellent MEP for London but her loyalty to Clegg lost her a vote last Thursday from a member – an elected councillor — what does that tell us about the state of the party in 2014 under the dead weight of Clegg?

    In Facebook similar stories abound of friends who are voting Green because of Clegg, former councillors, a former Chair of NLYL, people who have served on the Federal Executive, long-standing party stalwarts who lived through the Thorpe Trial years, the LibLab Pact, the merger, the 1989 Euros and bounced back each time, but not with Clegg. That is one disaster too far.

    The Green Party like Farage has as much reason to thank Clegg .

  • Philip Rimmer is right.

  • John Roffey 30th May '14 - 9:12am

    What is the great fear of VC or another managing the coalition?

  • John Roffey 30th May '14 - 9:15am

    Is NC at Belderberg Conference now?

  • @ John Tilley et al.

    How’s the search for any names for a replacement leader for Nick Clegg going?

    Just asking.

  • What I am asking for is names of potential leadership candidates and reasoned arguments as to how they are going to succeed in reviving the party where Nick Clegg has failed, preferably with some suggestions as to the strategies they might employ in doing so.

    Given that other people are asking us to decapitate the party and leap into a leadership void a year before a general election, I don’t think that asking for a reasoned explanation of this strategy is at all unreasonable.


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