Nick Harvey appointed as Lib Dems’ interim Chief Executive

Former North Devon Lib Dem MP Nick Harvey has been appointed as the Liberal Democrats’ interim Chief Executive following the departure of Tim Gordon earlier this month.

Nick has wide-ranging experience in PR, human resources, management and delivering change.

He comes from a City background, having been an account director at Dewe Rogerson, and worked at Profile PR and Westminster Consortium. He will take up his new role next week on the back of recent experience at Global Partners, where he was an adviser on Egypt and Jordan. He has also been seeking to widen access to the law as chair of Lawthority, while also chairing the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust (a role he will step back from while serving as interim chief executive).

He was a campaigning and dedicated constituency MP for North Devon for 22 years. During this time (1992-2015) he served on the House of Commons Commission where he drove through reforms to modernise how parliament works. He was chair of campaigns for the Liberal Democrats in the late 1990s, including for the breakthrough 1997 election.

Nick said on his appointment:

I am greatly looking forward to supporting Vince Cable as our new Leader, and hope that working closely together we can further revive Lib Dem fortunes. The party has shown great resilience. Now we have a real opportunity to begin the process of moving forwards again.

British politics has never been in greater need of the Liberal Democrats. There is a major gap which only we can fill, not least on Brexit. This could have a dramatic impact on people’s jobs, the health and care system they depend on, and the schools and colleges which enable everyone to succeed in life.

We must boldly promote our liberal values, at home but also with partners abroad – not fighting them, but working to find international solutions to global security and environmental challenges.

The party has many talented, experienced and innovative people, as well as legions of new members. Together we can get things going again.

Vince Cable said:

Nick has a vast amount of experience in parliament and government, as well as in management in the private sector. It is a coup to have someone of his ability to run the party machine at a time of exciting opportunity for the Liberal Democrats.

Party president Sal Brinton said:

Nick takes the helm with our membership at record levels, an increase in MPs, a string of council by-election gains and fundraising working well. It is great to have his steady hand on the tiller as the Liberal Democrats chart the next leg of our journey. We will advertise in due course to fill the role permanently.

The advert for the permanent role will be published next month.

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21 Comments

  • Michael Mullaney 30th Aug '17 - 9:34pm

    Brilliant this is the best news for the party in years. Nick’s gain of North Devon in the Lib Dems first general election in 1992, one of just 4 gains at that election, helped blaze the trail for the build up of the party that led to 62 MPs in 2005.

    If his writings in the Liberator are anything to go by his campaigning common sense should help the party build back up to the kinds of levels we were at 10-20 years ago.

  • Well, this is excellent news. I hope that the appointment will become permanent in due course.

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Aug '17 - 10:15pm

    This is indeed excellent news. I am a little bit sad for my North Devon friends, but when I had gathered from them after helping Nick’s GE campaign for a few days that he and his family would need to move on if the ungrateful voters didn’t re-elect him, I hoped his obvious talents wouldn’t be entirely lost to the party. For him to take such a central role seems ideal.

  • Cllr Ian Roome 31st Aug '17 - 5:52am

    Absolutely fantastic news for our party. Having known Nick over a number of years in my capacity of a member of the North Devon Liberal Democrats and its past chairman, I can say his experience will reap rewards for our party.

    I’m looking forward to his political and private commerce leadership skills bringing our party the vital ingredients that it needs to winning back seats in parliment and local councils.

    I think with Nick as CEO and Vince as our leader we need to watch this space. I am hoping for a great positive future for the Lib Dems if his role does become permanent.

  • Richard Underhill 31st Aug '17 - 8:44am

    Excellent news. He told us that he was deputed to stand up to a Tory whip who was large and a physical bully, as MPs were voting, using a sword to clear the toilets.

  • Richard Underhill 31st Aug '17 - 8:46am

    Excellent news. Check the story with him.

  • Michael Cole 31st Aug '17 - 9:03am

    As chairman of the Finchley & Friern Barnet Liberal Association I knew Nick many years ago. In fact, I recruited him to the Party; it wasn’t difficult – he asked to join.

    I’m sure that his undoubted intelligence and political experience will benefit us greatly and I wish him every success.

  • Bill le Breton 31st Aug '17 - 10:10am

    Encouraging news – very encouraging.

  • Absolutely fantastic news. Nick was an MP for 22 years and understands what Liberal Democrats have to do to win real elections in the real world.

    His Liberator article ‘A Warning from the West’ should be posted up on Lib Dem Voice for all to read. It applies just as much to the electorate of a poor urban constituency, such as Chesterfield, as it does to his North Devon homeland with what he describes as ‘plenty of dispossessed rural poor and public sector workers….but few chatterati.’

  • Mark Smulian 31st Aug '17 - 11:52am

    Nick’s Liberator article referred to above by Paul Holmes may be seen here: http://www.liberatormagazine.org.uk/
    Scroll down to Liberator 382

  • I like Sal Brinton’s rousing bit about how well we are doing. Great. Just a thought we are 7% in the Polls, still polling dreadfully in areas of weakness 2/3%, and of the 70+ Parliamentary seats we have won over the past 20/25 or years we now hold 12. Bit of realism just emphasises the sheer scale of the mountain we have to climb after the debacle of the coalition, not forgetting how Labour appears to have gained the anti Con and Remain vote.

  • @theakes Read the Liberator article for a realistic assessment. It was written before the even greater fall in our vote/increase in lost deposits of June 2017 but is highly relevant to to the mistakes we must avoid -but failed to in June.

  • Nick Harvey’s article in Liberator is a call to reverse the approach started by Nick Clegg and focus on those who feel left behind. While it is true that Brexit does not help these people, we make a big mistake if we concentrate only on that. Nick refers rather scathingly to FPC and I sympathise with that, given the motion now accepted by FCC for debate about the EU. The wording of that motion is abysmal and will only make us look ridiculous in the eyes of many voters, especially those who feel left behind; maybe we can hope at the moment that so many of them have decided to ignore us and turn to Labour that they will not notice.

  • Paul Pettinger 31st Aug '17 - 12:57pm

    Missed Liberator 382 for some reason. Very encouraging article by Nick Harvey.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 31st Aug '17 - 1:06pm

    I welcome this, have always liked and rated Nick Harvey, and agree with the sense in comments here particularly Paul Holmes.

    The need is for this to not be temporary , but the two knights , to continue for the duration of the leaders era , however short or not that might be.

  • Nick setting out his stall in Liberator:
    “we must appeal beyond the floating voter element among the 48% of Remainers.
    Low living standards and poor public services understandably alienate people who see others prospering from globalisation. We must rediscover our voice as champions for those people, and as campaigners against ‘the establishment’.
    To some extent, the economic interests of our ‘dispossessed poor’ constituency could be at odds with those of our ‘chatterati’. But we have generally found unifying messages to address both in the past, relying on the altruism of the latter (though I remember lively friction in parliamentary meetings about the mansion tax). Unifying themes – a narrative or, as David and Mark put it, a ‘recipe’ to mix together the ingredients of our policies into something greater than the sum of their parts – are nevertheless at a premium.
    Whatever our role in the austerity measures of 2010, repeating the medicine yet again now, years after the treatment was meant to have ended, means that NHS funding is in crisis, social care on the verge of collapse, prisons about to erupt, and schools (in Devon at least) near the precipice – but not daring say so while touting for pupils in a competitive market.
    The environment has been abandoned. The consequences of Brexit are beginning to bite, with impact on public finances, living standards and economic performance sure to worsen over the next couple of years while the Government flounders around trying to control the monster it has created. (A clever campaign could yet secure another vote on the final deal, provided it doesn’t bolt too soon – timing is all).
    No shortage of issues with which to engage our lost voters. It is surely not beyond the wit of our leaders, campaigners and policy wonks to grapple towards a formula to take the growing momentum from council and parliamentary by-elections and get us going forward nationally. This must entail a return to the centre-left ground we occupied from the time of Lloyd George through to 2010.”

  • Tony Dawson 31st Aug '17 - 1:24pm

    What continues to intrigue me is what the precise purpose and role of the Lib Dems’ Chief Executive is. In what way does (s)he relate to the National Executive, the Leader and the president? To what extent is (s)he meant to exercise individual power and initiative and to what extent is (s)he meant to be the Party’s chief ‘servant’?

    Incidentally, Nick Harvey achieved over 27,000 votes in North Devon in both 1992 and 1997. In 2015 this was little over 15000 although he regained a further 6000 votes in 2017.

  • Hurray………., the appointment of Nick is a victory for common sense and a breath of fresh air. His Liberator article should be compulsory reading for what the Scots call ‘the Highheadyans’ in the party.

    What a relief to read the recognition that, “Whatever our role in the austerity measures of 2010, repeating the medicine yet again now, years after the treatment was meant to have ended, means that NHS funding is in crisis, social care on the verge of collapse, prisons about to erupt and schools nearing the precipice – but not daring to say so……….. During the Coalition, we alienated each of (our regular support base) appearing to collude with the Tories to savage public services and freeze wages, shaft students, disappoint the young and abandon the poor”.

    He also says sensibly “we must appeal beyond the floating voter element among the 48% Remainers”. In other words, no more one trick pony stuff.

    Well done, Nick. Sorry you didn’t quite regain North Devon in June but keep drumming in these common sense messages to Vince and the dead parrot might yet rise again. Indeed, your appointment indicates he ‘gets it’.

  • @Tony D:

    From what I’ve ever been able to conclude from my reading on the topic, the Chief Exec of the party is somewhat analogous to the producer of a film. They make sure the movie is made. Rennard as CE was always closely linked to campaigns, whereas Gordon was linked to internal party-as-a-workplace reform/moving office/etc.

    That Liberator article is cheering stuff. If that’s the approach Harvey takes as CE in his tenure there’s hope for us yet. We must learn to appeal to the Liberal voters that we have lost in the SW (and elsewhere).

  • David Pocock 1st Sep '17 - 11:33am

    Well done with the appointment.

  • Linda Daniels 9th Sep '17 - 2:34pm

    Nick you have been a Wonderful Libdem MP for North Devon .

    Congratulations on your new post , your expertise and long standing work as an MP will ensure you are the Best for The Job !!! Well done ! Respect to you Nick . Linda & Ken

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