Opinion: Five ways we can focus on winning

Lib Dems winning hereWhen I announced my candidacy for Lib Dem Party President, I said that my number one priority was for us to ‘focus on winning’. I said that we must use May 2015 as an opportunity for every member to experience winning, gain confidence to campaign on our messages, and develop their campaign skills. That’s how I believe we’ll motivate members to go out and win. A number of people have asked me how we might do this in practice so here are my ideas.

  • We must first re-assert our commitment to local government in its own right, not just as a stepping-stone for winning Parliamentary seats. We must agree to re-build our local government activist base following the damage of recent years, and we must resolve to start the fight now.
  • Liberal Youth, Lib Dem Women, LibDem LGBT+ and Ethnic Minority Lib Dems (EMLD) should be recruiting grounds for 2015 Council candidates, and non-target seat PPCs should understand the role they can play to identify new candidates and re-elect existing Councillors. I’ve already suggested that ALDC work with these various groups in order to recruit younger and more diverse council candidates across the country. I’ve also suggested that ALDC work more closely with the Parliamentary Candidates Association. I’m delighted that both of these ideas are being pursued.

  • In the next few months, strategic seats should be supported to provide ‘on the job’ campaigning experience as an incentive to volunteers to travel to the seat from across the region. This would mobilise volunteer support for winnable Parliamentary seats whilst also providing skills and training that activists can take back to their local parties to fight and win their own local elections in 2015 and beyond. Up-skilling our volunteers on our Connect campaign software and assisting less developed seats to manage VIP visits (now that Peers have been encouraged to engage in these) are essential.
  • The voice of Councillors must be institutionalised in party structures – both standing Committees and informal groupings.
  • And, as an ALDC mentor and Management Committee member, I know that ALDC training and mentoring is a ‘lifeline’ to many of our councillors and campaigners: I would continue to advocate for greater investment in this.

I’m sure there are lots of other ideas out there – please share them!

* Daisy Cooper is the Liberal Democrat MP for St Albans.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • David Evans 9th Sep '14 - 12:08pm

    Before we can even dream of a focus on winning, we have to remove the dead weight of Nick Clegg from around our necks. Until he goes we will be continuously tarred with “An end to broken promises …”, willing pledge breakers, and a “new way of politics” that went native as soon as the first bottom hit the seat of a ministerial Jag. Nick has ignored councillors since the start of his leadership (hence our continuous decline under him even before 2010) and treated votes in conference with contempt. All these fine words will be just fine words, until we get someone with the courage to propose some action.

  • Daisy,
    I welcome a lot of what you say. I was delighted that elsewhere you have elaborated on the need for the party to understand and campaign in the context of community poitics. The essence of community politics is “working with people in their communities to take and use power”.
    You have also made clear your plan for real accountability within the party. As David Evans points out the worst example of lack of accountability is the failed leadership of the last eight years. How will you hold Clegg to account? This is not something you can be “neutral” on. Clegg has brought the party to its knees, how will you tackle this fundamental problem?

    This question goes to other candidates for Party President.
    Will a single one of them come off the fence and make a clear statement that Clegg must go?

  • Stephen Donnelly 9th Sep '14 - 10:24pm

    “The voice of Councillors must be institutionalised in party structures – both standing Committees and informal groupings”….

    Perhaps the party should drop Liberal and just become Local Democrats. Why are Councillors to be venerated ? What of the doctor who is committed politically but has other priorities, or the parent who has not got the time, or the business person with other commitments, or those who need to be mobile to stay employed. They cannot be councillors, but they have a right to be involved in politics.

  • Stephen Donnelly – The answer to that is historic. It took ages to formalise relationships between Council groups and “the Party”, and this position, Daisy, is I think, telling us, needs to be given roots now. What she is not saying is “venerate councillors above other members”. It is also, of course, a well-known phenomenon that certain councillors tend to be councillors first and Lib Dems afterwards – my apologies for this heresy, but like many heresies, it is true. Why do we quite often see people join when they decide to stand as councillors, and lapse when they lose or stand down?

  • Ian Hurdley 10th Sep '14 - 8:08am

    Whenever we speak of our achievements in Government, or of our future policies, we are castigated for having supported the rise in tuition fees, and our aspirations dismissed with “You lied to us then; we don’t believe you now.” We have to take a different approach, and the one I suggest is along these lines:
    “If the Tories had won an overall majority in 2010, would they have
    – increased the personal tax allowance to £10,000?
    – capped tuition fees at £9,000?
    – set a minimum earnings threshold before repayments were payable and written off any outstanding balance after 30 years?
    – provided a free lunch for all primary school pupils?
    – overseen a massive increase in apprenticeships?
    Think carefully before you give them your vote in 2015”

  • peter tyzack 10th Sep '14 - 8:57am

    vote for Ian Hurdley.. not David Evans. I am sooo tired of the opportunist way that anti-Cleggites spoil every sensible discussion with their tedious rants.

  • Unfortunately, Ian Hurdley, although you try to invert the party’s bind by inverting the way these things are put,. it won’t work.The only thing that will work is a thoroughgoing inversion of our policies, and an admission of our parliamentary leadership’s flawed economic thinking in 2010, and almost certainly a clear out of those at the top most responsible.

    We can see in Scotland, how the Yes campaign is exploiting people’s disillusionment with “establishment” politics and economics. Unfortunately Nick Clegg came along with his “centrism” and general fitting in with the way the establishment does things at the very same time as radicalism based on many people’s dissatisfaction with powerlessness was taking root across Britain. Then, of course, we all had the extreme bad luck to have a hung parliament, and the possibility of “being in Government” trumped everything, including the longstanding radical tradition, which has been a thread throughout Liberal and Lib Dem history, but has been the dominant element since the late 1950s.What bad luck! But what carelessness. What a nightmare.

  • Peter Tyzack, if you tire so easily at reading the views of people you disagree with then politics is maybe a poor choice of activity for you. I recommend gardening. The plants and flowers will never say anything that you do not think yourself. The vegetables will be most pleasant. You will be able to convince yourself that the whole world is of the same opinions as you and that Nick Clegg is a brilliant leader of the party, who has brought it nothing but success.

  • @ John Tilley

    I have heard that plants thrive under such high quality manure 😉

  • paul barker 10th Sep '14 - 2:18pm

    For those like Caractacus who are a bit vague about how Local Government works, most Councils run on a 4 Year Cycle. The seats we fight next May will be those we, mostly fought last in May 2011 when we were averaging about 9.5% in the Polls. We are now averaging about 8.5%. Even if we believe that Polls are an accurate predictor of Votes I dont see why a marginal fall like that should massively reduce the seats we get.
    Actually I expect us to get at least 18% in The Local Elections, 4 or 5% more than we got in 2011. The big factor that will decide how many seats we get will be how many we stand in. The big danger is that many members will listen to the constant running down of our chances by the Clegg obsessives & either fail to stand Candidates or fail to campaign. Next May will be a window of opportunity to rebuild some of our Local base & its vital we dont miss it because we believe our enemies.

  • David Evans 10th Sep '14 - 5:50pm

    Oh yes Peter Barker, any losses in 2015 will be down to a lack of candidates because they are upset about people who point out the mess Nick has made rather than because so many left the party because they had lost faith in Nick because of tuition fees, NHS reform , Secret courts or whatever. The only Clegg obsessives I see are the two Peters and of course Nick Clegg himself.

  • From those who say Nick Clegg must go, I’d be interested to know
    a) where you stood on tuition fees pre2010 election?
    b) what your preferred response to the outcome of that election was?
    c) who you see as the replacement for Nick Clegg?

  • Ian Hurdley
    I have on occasion been known to call or Clegg to go, so I will answer your questions —
    A) I was against tuition fees for university students just as I was against tuition fees for primary and secondary school students.
    B). My preference would have been a Conservative-Labour Coaliion after thecelection with Liberal Democrats as the official opposition.
    C). Any replacement for Clegg assuming indepedence for Scotland and excluding the conspirators in the Clegg Coup would need to come from very small number of surviving MPs. If you could give me your list of dead cert survivors who will still be Liberal Democrat MPs after May, I will happily put them in order of preference.

  • David Evans 12th Sep '14 - 1:51pm

    For Ian Hurdley
    A) I was in line with our costed manifesto position.
    B). Excluding John Tilley’s wonderful option, because we all know many in Labour didn’t want to be in government post 2015, my preference was Con_Lib Dem but with a much better Coalition agreement, no Cabinet Collective responsibility, no breaking pledges and a leader who didn’t go native after day one.
    C). As for leader, anyone who can persuade me they are worthy of it.

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