Some questions to potential candidates

With the news that Jo Swinson is running for Deputy Leader, not Leader, my enthusiasm has hit a low point. We’ve been through some hard times as a party, and in areas, particularly Wales, we are still facing them, and the road ahead is not easy. At the moment I see no potential candidate that can spark my enthusiasm and take us forward.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We need someone that can win people over, winning over party members is one thing, but winning over the general public when we are seen as toxic or an irrelevance is a lot harder.

I’m sure all possible candidates are a) qualified enough and b) will bring something different to the table but is that enough? We must not go easy on them. Ask the difficult questions and don’t back down.

To the candidates: some preliminary questions worth thinking about …

  1. Why are we relevant?
  2. Do you regret any of your votes in Parliament and how do you defend them (particularly to former Lib Dem supporters and Labour leaning people)?
  3. What (apart from Brexit) should we be leading on and how do we get our voices heard?
  4. How would you support the party in Wales where we have no MPs and one AM who is in Government?
  5. How do we rebuild in black hole areas – especially where funding deposits is difficult?
  6. What would you do to work with and promote young people in this party?
  7. What will you do to tackle homophobia, sexism, racism, and ableism in the party at all levels?
  8. How do we improve party disciplinary processes?
  9. What piece of party policy do you most disagree with and why?
  10. Why do you want to be leader?

More than anything we need a leader that is inspiring. Convince me that you are the best leader for the job, not simply the least worst.


* Chloe Hutchinson is a History and Politics student at Swansea University and policy officer of IR Cymru

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  • David Evershed 19th Jun '17 - 10:26am

    The only question is which of the candidate has the best leadership skills of those standing.

    A good leader can get inspire, motivate and enthuse others to come forward with good answers to the other questions.

    A leader doesn’t have to do everything themselves.

  • David Becket 19th Jun '17 - 10:33am

    I would add
    How are you going to lance the Student Loan Boil?
    What radical ideas will you bring to the table to tackle inequality?
    Which of the damaging austerity and benefit cut measures would you reverse or modify?

  • Will we still be leading on Brexit?
    GE2017 wasn’t its ‘moment,’ in the eyes of voters, but it soon will be. No point being indistinguishable from the main parties by backsliding and treating the 48% like they don’t matter.

    What issue will the media and our opponents (and many party members) rip into you over? And how will you respond to that?

  • In the last 11 years, three democratically elected leaders have been deposed by a midnight knock on the door by the anonymous men in grey sandles. What changes do you prpose to the constitution to stop this from happening again?!

  • David Pocock 19th Jun '17 - 11:29am

    A good set of questions Chloe.

    My question would be “what is your plan to get us to become the second or even first party of the united kingdom. Dont get me wrong, 50 plus seats would be nice about now but our goal should be to become opposition or the government, not distant third place.

  • In addition to questions listed above:
    What have you achieved about which you are most proud?
    What have you done about which you are least proud?
    Answers should be specific and detailed.
    Candidates should also demonstrate they have a good memory; and can handle and explain complex data.

  • Sue Sutherland 19th Jun '17 - 12:15pm

    I would add at the top: why are you a Lib Dem? Our leader has to articulate our beliefs if we are to survive.

  • Excellent point, Sue.

  • Chloe – this thread is a really good idea. Thanks. I hope all the potential candidates are reading carefully.
    My questions would be:-
    – What do you think of Tim’s reasons for standing down?
    – What is a Liberal Democrat?
    – Do you agree that its time for us to take a few risks? And what risks would you take?
    – Do you see the LDs as a truly radical party or a party of the establishment?
    – Do you agree with me that ‘progressive alliances’ that arise from members in individual constituencies are OK, but top-down centrally-imposed agreements are not?
    – Some of our leaders have tended to surround themselves with a clique of unaccountable advisers, who often have no understanding of the party. Will you commit that you won’t appoint anyone to your private office who has not been an active member of the party for say at least one year?

  • If the LibDems had won the last election, what would have been in your Queens Speech?

  • Richard Robinson 19th Jun '17 - 5:14pm

    My question will be “If a voter holds any religious affiliation should they vote Conservative or Labour?”. That’s what they’ll be asked at interview.

  • Richard Underhill 19th Jun '17 - 5:44pm

    Richard Robinson: Or vote at all?
    Some think that manmade government is useless and God will decide.
    The difference between George H W Bush and Prodigal Son George W Bush is that the Bible Belt activists thought they had the candidate they wanted and campaigned energetically for him.
    In practical politics Bush senior pulled out of a turkey shoot in Iraq after freeing Kuwait,
    Bush junior continued to try to occupy Iraq.
    With the Tories in a feverish mood, our MPs should get on with it.
    If Boris gets pm the defence secretary could get FO.

  • Elaine Woodard 19th Jun '17 - 7:13pm

    Tom – 3.34pm.
    I have the opposite view, I don’t think candidates should be asked about Tim’s reasons for standing down. But I like your other suggestions.

  • We might also ask what kind of leader would the country, not just Lib Dems, like to see. I think we need to be careful about electing someone who may seem enthusiastic and principled but lightweight. We need someone with a little more experience and gravitas who people respect, trust and view as being capable at the highest level.
    Regarding Jo’s decision to stand as Deputy, I can understand how performing in that role would provide excellent experience for her in the long run rather than jumping the gun now and regretting it in a couple of year’s time.

  • Amen. I am at a real low point with the party. To save the party – Vince Cable leader, Jo Swinson deputy!

  • Great questions. ALL candidates should answer them.

    THERE is a lot of anger in the party!

  • It annoyed me that Farron ruled out a coalition – the party needs a clear statement like “These are our policies and we will do our level best to get them enacted” Can the next leader please avoid shooting herself or himself in the foot in a GE campaign?

  • Alan ” We need someone with a little more experience and gravitas who people respect, trust and view as being capable at the highest level.”

    I am sorry, really sorry, but I don’t think such a person exists in the parliamentary party at the moment. I cannot think of a single person whom the electorate at large respects or trusts in the party. You only have to look at the voting record.

  • Geoff Hinchliffe 20th Jun '17 - 8:51pm

    Thank you for question 5 : ” How do we rebuild in black hole areas – especially where funding deposits is difficult? ” Living in “true blue” constituency with absolutely no messages to the local membership, an unknown parachuted in, all on top of the considerable anger I feel with the mismanagement of the GE campaign, and Tim’s “no coalition” statements, I am at the lowest point I’ve been since joining in 1974. I can see the membership figures evaporating as rapidly as they grew earlier.

  • Alan Fletcher 22nd Jun '17 - 11:22am

    Phyllis – Vince Cable and Norman Lamb spring to mind -both performed admirably on the big stage and both could prove excellent mentors for the deputy leader.

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