Setting up a Network of Experience

Liberal Democrat badge - Some rights reserved by Paul Walter, Newbury, UKWe have so many people in the party that have held office of one sort or another over the years. We must make sure that we find a way of retaining their expertise and at the same time give them the support that they need.

I have been thinking about setting up this new network for sometime but I think now, more than ever, it is the right time to do it. For too long many elected members who have lost their seats feel that their contribution to the party hasn’t been properly appreciated.

I know when I lost my parliamentary seat in Rochdale in 1997, due to boundary changes and the Labour landslide, it felt as if I had been kicked in the teeth. I felt I couldn’t have worked harder for my constituents but still I had been defeated. I felt absolutely devastated. I had a phone call from the party nationally but after that, apart from keeping in touch locally to a certain extent, I didn’t feel as if I was really engaged with the party anymore. I gather from talking to people that in many  cases people feel much the same now. We need to find a way of changing that perception.

I have called the new proposed group Network of Experience. I believe it should have two roles. One would be to make sure that those elected representatives who have lost their seats have a support network. It is very important for anyone who doesn’t retain their seat to realise that they are not alone and other people are going through or have gone through the same emotions that they are experiencing.

The second role is to make sure all the experience that has been gained over the years is not lost. I know people who have been councillors or MPs who have a wealth of experience but don’t know how to go about channelling that experience for the good of the party in the future. Many do stand again and win again but many do not and just fall off the radar. There are also many who stood down and we must retain their expertise as well.

I haven’t formulated a detailed plan of where we should go with this network as yet, however, I thought it would be worth floating it as an idea, to see if there is any interest across the country for it.

I have set up an email address [email protected] if anyone would like to get in touch with me, and if there is enough interest we can flesh out the details. I hope to hear from as many of you as possible.

* Liz Lynne is former MEP for the West Midlands and is a board member of EEF - the Manufacturers’ Organisation.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Sadie Smith 9th Jun '14 - 2:08pm

    Excellent idea. There is a very wide range of experience and that experience comes from very different political backgrounds. This could more easily be picked up regionally or sub regionally and then shared more widely. There will be different themes.
    I strongly support the support networking .

  • Gordon Seekings 9th Jun '14 - 3:45pm

    Agreed – it’s not much fun when you become a “non-person”. 🙁

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Jun '14 - 5:59pm

    This sounds good. We need to tackle casual agism and promoting experience helps.

  • Sounds like a good plan Liz lets hope it outworks into something constructive.

  • Simon McGrath 10th Jun '14 - 8:26am

    What a great idea

  • Patrick C Smith 10th Jun '14 - 10:20am

    This idea for a new L/D `Network of Experience’ is an excellent plan for future work together in unity. Please let me have further details as I still have a really positive contribution to make towards winning back our lost L/D Councillors, especially in London,Manchester and Liverpool.I suggest that there be a pep talk by Dorothy Thornhill whom has been re-elected 4 times as L/D Mayor of Watford…

  • Yes what a good Idea .I have been the fund rising officer in Leyton and Wanstead for a number of years and it would be good to share experience with other fund rising officers in the party.

  • Thanks for the positive comments. Anyone who wants to be involved please email me on [email protected]

  • Harry Hayfield 25th Jun '14 - 6:36pm

    Now that sounds like one of the best ideas I have heard in a very long time indeed.

  • Sadie Smith 25th Jun '14 - 6:39pm

    So pleased that this has had such a positive response. It is certainly worth doing.

  • Pascale Strudwick 26th Jun '14 - 4:59am

    I think that this is an excellent strategy for your party. As a Learning & Organisational Development Consultant I would also recommend that there is an aspect of succession planning: passing on those lessons learnt and experiences to the next generation of leaders. For those like my son who is just about to do politics at Uni. this would have been an ideal experience at the time that he was asking for work experience in a party office. This would enable a larger number of interested next generation leaders to get involved sooner and of course gain all that wonderful knowledge, those transferable skills and that winning attitude through a mentoring/coaching programme.

  • Totally agree, as a former Town & District Councillor (88-00) and Leader of West Wiltshire DC. Never even had a thank you from HO when I stood down having done my 3 year term as Council Leader. NOT that I was looking for it.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • David Allen
    "Unfair to say we ‘re saying nothing" Up to a point, yes. However, being against sewage dumping isn 't exactly sticking your head above the parapet and br...
  • Ruth Bright
    Caron, sorry to display my ignorance here but could you tell members like me outside Scotland more about the National care service stuff? Genuinely interested....
  • David Garlick
    Where is a JFK when you need someone to draw the line. No line ,no stopping Putin. rearming is essential. Is the current long away target sufficient? I think ...
  • Zachary Adam Barker
    "In his early career, Rasmussen was a strident critic of the welfare state, writing the book From Social State to Minimal State in 1993." What does this have...
  • Peter Martin
    @ David Symonds, “Remember that Michael Foot and Margaret Thatcher were united in their hatred of the SDP/Liberal Alliance because they feared a new ...