Opinion: Reflections on the new Party website

logo_lgThe first thing you notice on the new party website is the new logo. There is a history in the Liberal Democrats of changing the logo to reflect a change in the Leader and as this new logo appears to be being rolled out over several months one wonders if this is a pre-emptive strike by the grey suits in Lib Dem HQ? As a part of that change we appear to have again opted for an expensive bespoke typeface that will be beyond the budget of most local parties and will create the impression of disconnect between the team on the ground and the team at LDHQ. There is nothing wrong with Calibri or Cambria, guys.

As a member, the next thing you notice is that your profile does not seem to work, that there is no way of changing it, and that there is no structure to enable you to set out your personal political CV. This becomes all the more frustrating when you are told that with 30 years supporting the party, 26 years membership, 19 years as a councillor, 10 years on school governing bodies, many years on English Council and Regional Executive, and a great deal of experience as a local party officer, your entire political capital is 15. If you had completed some survey about Europe you could have increased that by 1000. If you want to devalue local campaigning then this is an excellent way to do that.

Looking on the site itself we find that the SAO’s (Specified Associated Organisations) and AO’s (Associated Organisations) and local parties have all vanished, and in their place is a list of council group leaders. This means for those areas with no council group, or for those areas with a council group where the leader is not based in the constituency, that you are expected to contact people who have nothing to do with party membership in the area where you live. That is not the most sensible approach to expanding our membership.

Another problem is when you look at the Party Structure bit of the website, apparently the English Party consists of the English Finance & Administration Committee and the Regional Parties Committee. I could be mistaken but one of these is a function of the English Executive and the other is a joint coordinating committee with no actual constitutional status.

I am told that the aim is for the whole party to move to NationBuilder websites in the near future. The way this launch has been botched up does not encourage me to do so.

* Chair of Manchester Gorton Liberal Democrats, a member of the NW Regional Executive and the English Council and Vice President of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Richard Shaw 25th Feb '14 - 12:32pm

    Perhaps this brand new website is still a “work in progress” and that more content, etc. will be included as time goes on? I’m much impressed by the new site and found in particular the conference section to be better than before. This new site follows the launch of the new ALDC site and reflects the wider modernisation and professionalisation of party sites and systems that I have observed. As a branch membership officer, I’m eagerly awaiting the replacement of MDO. 😉

    As for the expensive typeface in the logo, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were to be included in the pack of 700+ fonts that ALDC provide to their members, as were the previous typefaces.

  • Richard Shaw 25th Feb '14 - 12:40pm

    If you go to the website now, information about and lists of SAOs and other groups can be found under the “About Our Party” section (see http://www.libdems.org.uk/committees_organisations and http://www.libdems.org.uk/committees_organisations). Of course, this may not have been the case when the OP wrote his piece.

  • My political capital points are 17: I get nothing for being chair of my local party, but 2 points for saying I would go to an event that was cancelled. This strikes me as endearingly amusing more than anything else though.

  • paul barker 25th Feb '14 - 4:28pm

    another article, another snide attack on Clegg squeezed in. Theres Elections in 3 months & this constant negativity doesnt help.

  • Mark Smulian 25th Feb '14 - 5:01pm

    The revamp has at least finally got shot of the awful aqua, a colour far too easily confused with blue.

  • Jack McKenna 25th Feb '14 - 11:16pm

    Is the logo different? Looks familiar to me. I may very well be wrong it just looks the same to me.

  • umm, am I allowed to say that i don’t like the new typeface?

  • There’s still a lot of unequal dead white space arund it and once again it’s not a square which will make it unusable on a ballott paper

  • peter tyzack 26th Feb '14 - 10:31am

    the new typeface is awful.. and I thought we were advised that all publications(including online stuff) should follow RNIB guidelines, which include choice of typefaces, this certainly can’t be one of them. And if this is a ‘party of its members’ how come we all find out after the decisions have been taken(repeat of the scrapping of LibDem News for some awful supermarket mag).
    The website will be functioning when it is public friendly(not just member friendly, but that would be a start!) clearly it has been developed by a techie who knows what he’s doing, but who fails to understand that ordinary people need to be able to use it too.
    ‘About our Party’ should be just that, not an opportunity to make snide attacks on our opponents. As a public page it should be a description of the party and how it is supposed to function, not some remarks which will turn people off.. where is our position on the Scottish referendum, where is the Policy Index and, talking of colours, where is the Union Jack?

  • Kay Kirkham 26th Feb '14 - 2:52pm

    Apparently I joined the party in October 2013. I assume this is actually when the data was entered but as I actually joined in 1981 my political capital is depressingly low.

  • peter tyzack 26th Feb ’14 – 10:31am
    the new typeface is awful.. and I thought we were advised that all publications(including online stuff) should follow RNIB guidelines, which include choice of typefaces, this certainly can’t be one of them. And if this is a ‘party of its members’ how come we all find out after the decisions have been taken(repeat of the scrapping of LibDem News for some awful supermarket mag).

    Peter, You and I do not always agree but I am with you 100% when you this.
    Use of the RNIB guidelines ought to be such n obvious and non-negotiable first step.
    And yes the replacement for Lib Dem News is dreadful. Could be a supermarket mag or it could be one of those unsolicited booklets that comes with my gas bill — I don’t read them either because they contain nothing useful or timely and are written in PR wordage. Instead of plain English.

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