Ros Scott not standing again for Lib Dem President: “The time has come to pass on the baton”

Liberal Democrat Party President Ros Scott has announced that she does not intend to stand again for the office, despite being eligible to stand for a second term.

In an article today for Lib Dem News, Ros explains that she feels it is time “to pass on the baton”, to “a strong media performer and tough campaigner” who will articulate the Liberal Democrats’ distinctive values and identity.

Here is Ros Scott’s article in full:

All right, I know it’s a cliché, but time really does fly when you’re having fun! My two year term as Party President is coming towards its close, and the hectic schedule of meetings, conferences, Party business and local Party visits has ensured that I’ve been kept pretty busy. With the European and local elections of 2009, the General Election of 2010, and the amazing aftermath which saw Liberal Democrats in national Government for the first time in decades, it’s been pretty eventful.

There’s no job description for the Party President, and each incumbent has done the job differently, depending on their own areas of interest and expertise, and the political climate at the time. When I ran for election two years ago I didn’t make extravagant pledges but focussed on the areas where I knew the Party President could really deliver and where my experience in local government and business could make a difference. In the run up to the General Election, I felt that internal Party development was a key priority for us, and I have concentrated my efforts on that aspect of the job.

I’m pleased at what we have achieved together. The Chief Officers Group has been created, bringing together key players from the various elected Party bodies and leading to a whole Party business planning process for the first time. Ensuring that the State Parties and the Federal Party work more closely together has been an essential part of an ongoing process to improve our candidate approval and selection. The fund raising board was established and, along with the employment of our first professional fund raiser, ensured that the 2010 General Election was better funded than ever before. The new Audit & Compliance Board has given us the confidence to know that there is an independent view not only of our accounts, but of all major donations. We raised our game in the field of new technology and are recruiting more people on line, keeping members informed by regular e-mail updates, and mobilising them using Lib Dem Act. I am especially delighted that after several years of decline, membership has risen. Federal Executive has developed into an effective scrutinising body and has looked in detail at a number of important topics – including the most thorough review of a General Election campaign ever.

The dramatic events of May have meant that we have all had to move quickly to deal with the challenges of entering into Government, and establishing of new ways of working has been a key task. In Liverpool we will have two significant consultative sessions, on policy and strategy. These will form the backbone of our work going forward, designed to ensure that there is a strong Liberal Democrat presence both inside Westminster and beyond.

In reflecting upon what is needed in a Party President for the next two year term, I have concluded that the focus on internal matters needs to change. The President needs to articulate the liberal values which make us unique, and ensure that we retain our own identity. Could I do this job? Yes, I believe so. Am I the best person to do it? To be honest, I don’t think I am. It’s up to you of course, but in my view, what we need now is a President who is a strong media performer and tough campaigner. It’s not an easy job – you have very little actual power, no office or staff, and a tiny budget which barely covers the travel costs. But nevertheless, it is possible to make a real difference.

It’s been an exciting and eventful two years, and I have especially enjoyed getting to meet members and activists right across the country, but the time has come to pass on the baton.

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29 Comments

  • Dinti Batstone 10th Sep '10 - 7:45pm

    So sorry to hear this… Ros you will be missed!

  • JohnM – we need to get out of the coalition with the Tories – save the party – no more Liberal Nationals

    I suspect Ros too hates the way we’ve sold out to the party many of us joined to fight against – watch out for defections to the Greens

  • Rob Blackie 10th Sep '10 - 8:59pm

    So sad to hear this. Ros has been an excellent President.

  • Living in hope 10th Sep '10 - 9:26pm

    So sad, but Ros has done a terrific job. I am sure she will continue to do so in the HoL on behalf of the Liberal Democrats and the Coalition Government.

  • Felix :

    What a good idea! Let’s abandon the coalition, thus forcing a GE at which a grateful public will present us with a net gain of 270 or so seats, as a reward for our principled position.

    And then we can implement a truly Liberal programme!

    Yep, seems a sound analysis to me ………..

  • Bridget Harris 10th Sep '10 - 10:15pm

    I am sure Ros won’t mind me saying that she is a truly exceptional politician – fiercely bright and able, warm and generous to the core. I have always trusted her judgement and I’m sure she is right to make this decision. It will still always be a pleasure to see her contribute and help shape the party’s future. Congratulations, Ros, on being such a fantastic president of the party – and keep up the good work elsewhere!

  • This is really sad news. Ros has been a fantastic President the organisation of the party has been in safe hands and she has been a fantastic encourager to many of us to keep striving for the Party.

  • Yikes…. the party president has no office or staff… and a budget which hardly covers the travel costs?
    Is this a good way of running a party, I wonder? Surely people in such a position need some resources?

    I assume that among the fairly select group which could do this job, these circumstances will restrict the number of applicants to a small elite who have the time and the money to deal with a situation such as this….

  • Crewegwyn,

    Let’s abandon the coalition, but provide the Tories with a minimal confidence-and-supply agreement, so that they have no excuse to call an election. Let’s get what influence we can that way. It can’t possibly be less effective than what is happening now. As Norman Tebbit has told us, we now provide “cover” to allow the right-wing Tories to move further and faster than they would be able to do on their own.

  • Andrew Suffield 10th Sep '10 - 11:37pm

    I’d ignore Felix, who pretty much copy-and-pastes that rant about “National Liberals” on every LDV post…

    And nobody really believes he’s a party member like he claims, do they?

  • Ros Scott’s admirable efforts have been wasted. The party, like the Corus steel plant, has been mothballed. It is not being led, its policies and values are not being promoted. Instead, it is propping up a right-wing Tory government. Yes, we can turn our backs on Westminster and concentrate on local government, and we can allow the free market “libertarians” to play their schoolboy games in the policy-making fora while we fix broken pavements (oh, and implement Cameron’s cuts at a local level). We can do all that, yes. But is that why we came into politics?

    Who said defect to the Greens? Be serious. Listening to Caroline Lucas take a trip through impossiblist fantasy land on the 10 O’clock News tonight tells me why that aint gonna happen.

  • Andrew – I am a party member. I joined the Liberal party in 1970, and have been a party member ever since. I was chair of the ULS at UNNW in the early 70s and of Essex Uni in the mid 70s. I invited to Essex and get to meet Cyril Smith, and Clement Freud, and have also met Jo Grimond, David Steele, Des Wilson and many others.
    I fought council seats and one General Election seat and was president of the WLYLs.
    My membership runs out on September 30, and I can currently see no reason to renew it.

  • Ooops – that should read UCNW not UNNW

  • I agree with Dave Page’s analysis. Ros is a very likeable person and I think it a pity she has decided not to stand again in order to carry out the pledges made during her election campaign. Not only is there a disconnect between Cowley Street and the grassroots but it seems many local parties have been mothballed.

    I am an “active” member in a LibDem constituency and stood in the local elections on the same day as the General election, however, since 6 May 2010 no leaflets have been delivered, no member’s newsletters (emailed or mailed) have been delivered, only one event for members to discuss the coalition, no thanks for standing in the elections and helping to re-elect our MP, the daily emails from Cowley Street have dried up. I accept we all needed a rest after the elections and changed financial circumstances will have had an impact but we have lost vital time in motivating members and explaining the Coalition to the public.

    I think the Coalition is the best thing that has happened to the party in a long time and really want to get out on the streets to explain the benefits of LibDem involvement. I would never dream of defecting to another party but I am sorely tempted to let my membership lapse.

  • Whereas previous contests have mainly been about personality, I expect we may now have a left v right contest.

  • Funny that Sesenco, it was under Labour that Corus was left to rot, and under the coalition that it is rising to success again.

    As for President, please not Tim Farron, he is causing enough trouble as it is – unless Presidency would keep him occupied and thus quiet?

  • Time for Charles Kennedy again? he was a very successful President, if he can his act together he should throw his hat in the ring as hes a good media performer, anti coalition, not a Orange Booker, left of the party….. ticks all my boxes!

  • Wayne Wallis 12th Sep '10 - 12:26am

    Time for someone not form the South of England, looks like a good retirement job for Gordon Lishman.

  • Ray Cobbett 12th Sep '10 - 8:56am

    My impression is that Ros is a feet firmly on the ground campaigner
    that the party needs more than ever. I’d go for Charlie, slightly unfashionable
    among the Lib Cons maybe but still with the common touch that we need
    to re-discover. He could help us to explain to ordinary voters how fantastically
    better off they with us in government than they would have been under
    a 100% Tory one.

  • Andy Myles?

  • The need for the President to be a good media performer is one thing but there are two other aspects which must not be overlooked.
    1. In striving to be a media star, it is vital that the President does not neglect the internal organisation of the party. Without an efficient party organisation to adhere to, the ordinary member could start to feel more distant from the leadership – and that is not Lib Dem at all.
    2. It would be incredibly damaging for the party if the President were seen by the media as an alternative voice to the party Leader. The media would try everything to find differences between the President and the Leader and present the party as divided at the top.

    The President should focus on the party in the country and the Leader should deal with the parliamentary party. If we appear to be in any way lacking in unity, we will be crucified by the media.

    Having said that, I do think that the President should be a much more high profile figure and very media-savvy.

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