Tag Archives: english party

How to get your Conference amendment selected for debate

The full Agenda or Spring Conference 2022 (11-13 March) is now out. There are full range of motions on a diversity of topics and, as such, probably at least one instance (if not many) whereby something has been proposed in relation to a particular issue which you may yourself disagree with.

That is where amendments come in. Both business motions (concerning how the party operates internally) and policy motions (concerning our position on and policy proposals for a particular external issue) are subject to amendment. The deadline for amendments is Monday, 28 February 2022.

The Federal Conference Committee (FCC) runs a drafting advice service so that anyone thinking of submitting an amendment (or an emergency motion for that matter) can get advice on how best to draft this, to maximise your chances of getting the amendment selected for debate. The deadline for requesting drafting advice is Monday, 14th February 2022 and you can access the service here.

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What’s the point of the English Party?

You could perhaps be forgiven for not knowing that the English Party even exists. Unlike Regional Parties in England, which have a direct relationship with members and are consequently well-understood; the all-England level of the party lies veiled in a murky labyrinth of internal organisation generally understood only by those initiated into the hidden secrets of its bureaucracy. Or at least that’s how it appears to most ordinary members (and even many longstanding activists!)

Nevertheless, the internal party matters reserved for England level (as opposed to being devolved to Regional Parties) are all pretty important. From approval and selection rules for parliamentary candidates, to setting the budget which determines how much Regions and Local Parties get from membership subscriptions and how much is available to be spent centrally to fund field-based Regional Development Officers, to setting the overall standards for operational and governance decisions at lower levels (such as rules applying to local agreements to work with other parties, how to settle membership disputes, and how Council Groups need to operate in order to be officially recognised etc.)

It might all sound a bit dull, but it’s absolutely crucial work that has to be done. Certainly when it comes to the work of the oft-maligned English Council itself (the governing body of the Liberal Democrats in England, made up of the Regional Chairs plus directly elected representatives from each Region), none of this work could easily be performed by Regional Parties acting autonomously. And were it to be, that would undoubtedly create an unmanageable patchwork of different rules and process from region to region which – certainly when it comes to things like PPC selections – would be extremely difficult if not practically impossible for participants to navigate.

The problem with the English Council, if I may say so, is not what it does but rather 𝘩𝘰𝘸 it does it. With what is in theory supposed to be a representative and accountable body in practice being almost entirely self-selecting, shrouded in misunderstanding or complete ignorance as to its role, and totally unaccountable as a result.

I am on a mission to change that – seeking to massively improve channels of communication between those sitting on the Council and ordinary English Party members and between its leadership on the Council’s Executive and the crucial volunteers running Local & Regional Parties. But it’s not easy and I keep encountering serious roadblocks. Since late December I have been trying to find a way to send out a detailed report back on the English Council’s important December 18th meeting to members in my own Region, only to be thwarted at every turn. Perhaps not unreasonably, as existing channels of communication are perhaps better focused on traditional things like campaigns updates etc., but there really should be some mechanism for the Region’s elected representatives to be able to report back to and be held accountably by the members that elect them regarding their work on the Council. Clearly no such mechanism currently exists.

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

The Reform of The English Council

It is only occasionally that articles about the English Council appear in Lib Dem Voice. I am not a member of the English Council but an ordinary member of the party in Bromley.

Liz Leffman who was the Chair of the English Council wrote about proposals for reform of the English Party organisation in December 2017. There was also an article by Rob Davidson in May 2020 and Simon McGrath wrote an article in December 2020.

As mentioned, efforts have been made to make the English Council more democratic and accountable to members of the party in England.  The final proposals of the English Review Group under the Chairmanship of Sally Symington in 2017 were rejected by the English Council.

Federal Conference decided in 2014 that Federal Conference Reps should no longer be elected by local parties, so that every member is now entitled to attend the Federal Conference.  Since that time we have had reason to believe that a similar reform of the English Party might be imminent.

Some efforts are being made by some members of the English Council to communicate with ordinary party members, through social media, but not in a structured manner.

Posted in Op-eds | 4 Comments

Why we need the English State Party of the Liberal Democrats

Is there any point to the English State Party of the Liberal Democrats?”

A recent article asked this question, and it’s a good question, and one asked by many people over the years.

In some ways the English layer of the Lib Dems is there because we are a Federal Party with the Party in Scotland and Wales who are the constituent parts of the party, and there has to be something at an English level.

For the last three months I’ve been Chair of the Party in England. I don’t like calling it the English Party, as one of our Bangladeshi members in Portsmouth saw that I had got this new role and was worried that I had joined some right wing fringe party.

The Party in England has done good, behind the scenes work, over the last few years. It provides the framework for the approval and selection of parliamentary candidates so that we have the same standards across England. It has also run the disciplinary function in England for many years. For individual members this is now being done by the Federal Party, whilst the Party in England will try to resolve problems in Local Parties and Council Groups.

There are many functions that the Party in England could do, but it has decided its better done at a different layer of the Party. During the Covid 19 crisis we have seen the different nations of the UK make different decisions on lockdown etc. That’s because health is a devolved issue. The list of functions that the UK wide Government does are limited. Defence, foreign affairs, pensions, social security and abortion rights. So policy on education, transport, farming, environment, energy, health etc are all decided at the state level (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England). So developing policy on these areas should be done by the Party in England as it is by the Scottish and Welsh Lib Dems. But we have taken the pragmatic decision that we will leave the policy creation work for these devolved subject areas with the Federal Party HQ. So there is no English Policy Committee, as this would be duplication. The same is true of the bits of Party Conference looking at devolved issues etc.

So what does the Party in England do? In my view no institution has the right to exist unless it is doing something useful and adding value.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

Further reflections on the English Party

Embed from Getty Images

Recently, as a new member, I became flummoxed when trying to work out what the English Party is, does and who makes up its committees. I wrote up my frustrations here at Lib Dem Voice. Having started with no axe to grind, I have become near axe-wielding now that responses have come in from that article. Members of as long as thirty-five years have admitted not knowing anything about the English Party and others have pointed out how it resists change or even blocks progress. Yet, there is an alternative and one that may help kick-start the reform that our recent Election Review has called for.

My main gripe with the English Party had been that they didn’t appear to have a website (it turns out that they do but it says so little about what the English Party is and does that in Google rankings terms, it’s basically on the ‘dark web.’) And they didn’t have social media or the other indicators of transparency and openness one might expect from a liberal, political institution.

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | 23 Comments

A way forward for the English Party

Since late 2016, the English Party has been reviewing its structure and governance. This was initiated following the consultation conducted by the Federal Party following the 2015 General Election, which revealed some considerable criticism of the English Party for a lack of transparency and accountability.

The English Party established the English Review Group towards the end of 2016, with members drawn from each of the 11 English Regions. This is chaired by Sally Symington, who has not previously been a member of any of the English Party committees. She was recommended for her common-sense approach, her fresh eye, and her experience …

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

The future of the English Party

The English Party has set out its governance review, with the aim of making it accessible to members and easy to engage with, whilst providing least distraction from current campaigning and the fighting of elections and by-elections. We recognise the importance of ensuring the party in England is relevant and accountable to members, has clarity of purpose and operation and is effective and efficient and have worked hard to embrace these ideals in the range of proposals being put to members.

The options for the future of the party in England have been complied by a review group set up in autumn 2016 by the English Council Executive and comprising representatives from all eleven regions. The members of the English Review Group, as we are known, come to the process with a range of professional and party experience, including both long-standing and relatively new members. Within the group, we have differing opinions regarding the future shape of the English Party but have all have worked together to come up with a range of proposals for consultation.

The proposals outline four options for how the future party in England might look and function, they include:

Posted in News | 15 Comments

English Party election results and good news on the Membership Incentive Scheme

There was good news for local parties from yesterday’s English Council meeting .The proposals we told you about to retain the Membership Incentive Scheme were passed. This means:

  • Net growth of between 1 and 10 members will qualify local parties to receive 18% of all their membership subscription fees paid during that quarter. 
  • Net growth of more than 10 members will qualify local parties to receive 33% of all their membership subscription fees paid during that quarter.  

The following results of the English Party elections were announced.

Chair of English Party

Steve Jarvis

Chair of English Candidates Committee

Richard Brett

English Council Executive

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Speaking for England – a reply to Chris White

Chris White’s article “Speaking for England” rightly invited people to share their views with the Federal Executive’s review of party governance but wrongly made a number of express or implied criticisms of the English Liberal Democrats that are incorrect and unjust.

Chris writes “most members think they… can vote for the committees which look after campaigning”. Indeed, they can. Local parties are chiefly responsible for local campaigning. National party strategy is constitutionally the responsibility of the Federal Executive, of which both Chris and I are members.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 41 Comments

Dear English Party, is there something you’ve forgotten to do?

According to Mark Pack, the English Party is thinking of outsourcing its membership database, currently run in LDHQ, to a private company.

Why has there been quiet talk about how Atos or another similar firm might be asked to take over Liberal Democrat membership services? It is because the English Party has been sounding out options for outsourcing the servicing of membership from party HQ in London (for members of the party in England).

As the strategy paper says, “ consider outsourcing of the management of member (and supporter) recruitment and renewal processing and record keeping, if this can provide improved access to data for all parts of the party at a lower cost.”

Given how little of membership work is done by post now (which used to be outsourced from London back when there was rather more of it), this amounts to outsourcing the party’s membership database and/or the phone bank operation in London.

Sounding out someone like Atos is wise in terms of seeing whether this is practical. It also shows the risks and likely unpopularity of such an approach.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 18 Comments

Positive action for women on Westminster shortlists

The English Candidates Committee (ECC) has decided to retain positive action measures to address the under-representation of women in the Parliamentary Party.

Clause 24 in the Westminster Rules for Selection of Parliamentary Candidates stipulates that where the ECC has decided to adopt positive action arrangements which affect a shortlist, those arrangements shall be observed by the Returning Officer and shortlisting committee as if they were contained in this Rule.

The provision is that:

In strategic seats and aspiring strategic seats (those that have ‘opted up’ to the full selection process):

    a shortlist of three candidates must contain a minimum of one woman
    a shortlist of

Posted in News, Party policy and internal matters and Selection news | Also tagged and | 35 Comments

European selection results – complete

The English Party is today counting the ballot to select our candidates for the nine English Euro Regions for the 2014 Euro elections. The Scottish and Welsh Parties are running their selections separately, and their results will be announced separately.

The results are listed below. The detailed STV results will be available later and we’ll put the web link in when it is available.

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

What’s on the agenda of the English Council’s meeting on 17 November…

There will be a meeting of the Liberal Democrat’s English Council this coming Saturday (17th November) at University College London.

The English Council is the governing body of the Liberal Democrats in England, meets twice a year to consider matters of importance to the English Party.

Alongside the usual reports from officers and representatives of the English Party on other party bodies, and a keynote speech from Stephen Lloyd the MP for Eastbourne, I think there are four items of note on the agenda.

Finances of the English Party

This meeting sees the annual decisions on the finances of the English Party being taken. …

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Results of the English Party Elections 2012

Last week the results of the elections for positions within the English Party were emailed to members of the English Council.

Given that for all of these positions, with the exception of the role of representative to the Federal Executive, the number of nominations matched or were less than the places available, all candidates were elected unopposed.

The results were as follows:

Chair of the English Party – Peter Ellis has been re-elected Chair unopposed.
Chair of the English Candidates Committee – Margaret Joachim has been re-elected Chair unopposed.
Representative to the Federal Conference Committee and to the Federal Policy Committee – Geoff Payne has been …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 15 Comments

Chris White writes: Is it possible to change Coalition policy?

Is it possible to change Coalition policy? Council leaders certainly hope so if the letter to today’s Times is to be believed. Over a hundred have supported – and no doubt many more councillors, deputies, backbenchers and the like might have done so had there been more time to hone the message and gather support.

The issue should be core to the localist agenda – although we need to be rather clearer about what we really want.

Not so long ago the police were governed (at least in non-operational terms) by the police committees of county councils. There was not much …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Chris White writes: Approving Police Commissioner candidates

Readers of LDV will have noticed that there is an announcement about Police Commissioner candidates – presumably placed by the English Party.

Of course, none of us want these elections (and most councillors in other parties don’t either) but it’s in the Coalition agreement and so we are to an extent stuck with a particularly silly bit of the Tory manifesto. Such, I guess, is the nature of Coalitions.

What is troubling, however, is the fact that the English Party has decided to play the centralist card: candidates need in essence to be approved like parliamentary candidates.

One of the main …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments
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