Tag Archives: federal board

Liberal Democrats adopt definition of Transphobia

The Lib Dems have always believed trans right are human rights. Over the last year it has become clear that the Party needed to explain what that means in practice. 

We know that some parts of the media have been actively trying to smear the Trans community and have promoted scare stories designed to frighten people into rolling back trans rights in general and preventing the reform of the Gender Recognition Act in particular. We want to support members who want to call out transphobic behaviour, and challenge it both in and outside the party. 

It was time for the Party to make its position clear. 

Our Party President, Mark Pack asked the Disciplinary Sub Group to work on this definition. It has taken us some months and many different drafts to produce a definition that we believe will give members an effective way of answering the question ‘What do the Lib Dems believe is transphobic behaviour?’

We have consulted with trans members of the Party, with LGBT+ and with other interested parties. Our colleagues on the DSG have put in suggestions and concerns. We thank them all for their extremely helpful input. We have also drawn on the work done by organisations such as Stonewall and TransActual UK. 

This document was then submitted to the Steering Group of the Federal Board, who adopted the definition of Transphobia unanimously. 

We hope this definition will help guide members who want to support the trans community and call out transphobic behaviour. It will also be key to supporting the Party’s disciplinary processes. It is an important step towards ensuring that in 2020 the Liberal Democrats continue to demonstrate their commitment to Liberal values, as eloquently described in the opening sentence to the preamble to the Party’s constitution.

“The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.” 

Definition of Transphobia 

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Reducing the size of the Federal Board and giving power to the members

Last week Mark Valladares wrote an article – ‘How the Party is managed – can you be democratic and efficient’ and some in the comments called for a smaller Federal Board.

The Thornhill 2019 Election Review talks of a Federal Board of 40+ members (page 34) which is too large to be a ‘realistic decision-making body’ (page 22) and implies that during a governance review this should be reduced (pages 24 and 49).

Mark Pack in his report on the July Federal Board meeting states that the Federal Board has a membership of 43. The Constitution sets out a …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 30 Comments

The new complaints process – our first year

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When the Lib Dems’ new members’ complaints procedure went live on 1 July 2019, we committed to an independent, fair, member-led process. The Federal Board agreed to review how the system was working at the end of its first year and I’m pleased and proud to say that the first steps in that review has identified some clear positives.

The system is independent. The Federal Board has no role in – or knowledge of – individual complaints. Instead, the Senior Adjudicators’ Team (SAT) leads and advises our volunteers. This team of four specialists, lead by our Lead Adjudicator, Neil Christian, reflects the federal nature of our party and it means there are up to three people from outside the state party of the complaint to provide impartial advice to our volunteers.

It is well-staffed: since our volunteer call last year we’ve trained over 100 volunteers to act as adjudicators, mediators and investigators. That’s well in excess of the 55 volunteers Conference originally agreed we needed, and we are working to train more.

The rules are much more transparent and flexible than they have been in the past. We have spoken to members and party bodies across all the state parties since last July to ensure it works – and to make amendments where it doesn’t. These changes are drafted by the Disciplinary Sub-Group and agreed by Federal Board as needed. The procedure is published on the party website and we welcome input from all members on how we can improve it.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 24 Comments

Time to debate policy whilst the house burns down? Perhaps we should smash the boards instead

That the decision by the Federal Board to delay the leadership contest to 2021 was controversial amongst members is itself a non-controversial statement. WhatsApp groups and email chains have been filled with sometimes sweary complaints regarding the decision, comments about dissatisfied members at risk of leaving the party, and an overall despair at the lethargic and doubt-ridden approach the party has taken to 2020.

That the report into the 2019 General Election car crash was hard-hitting and well-sourced is also non-controversial. It is a good bit of commentary on the reasoning behind the weakening of the Lib Dems since around the time of Kennedy’s removal as leader. It covers a lot of topics familiar both to those who have observed Lib Dem fortunes academically and have had to deal with those fortunes on the ground.

The consistent underpinning theme of the report is the institutional rot that has occurred in party infrastructure, which has been aided – but critically, not caused by – political decisions by various leadership members during the last fifteen years or so.

This is why the U-turn by the Federal Board this week, to take a panicked approach to the leadership election, replacing a longer-term strategic decision which was well articulated by the Party President and others in several places, is so exceptionally concerning. It illustrates the dysfunction outlined by the report perfectly, and does nothing but, at best, delay real action and debate on the report’s themes until the autumn.

What is clearly needed during this extended stint in the political wilderness is time for the lessons of 2019 to fully sink in, and for an empowered President, new CEO and an acting leader (without the distractions of enacting a mandate) to action the recommendations of the report. It requires a strategic approach, not a tactical one.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 16 April 2020

2 big stories

Alright, we’re locked down. But the question is, how do you return to normal? The German government thinks it has plotted a route, as the Washington Post reports. Buty don’t get too optimistic, these are relative baby steps we’re talking about, capable of being halted without significant difficulty. On the other hand, it’s more of a plan than the British Government have thus far…

There’s still not much sign of Government support reaching businesses, and whilst the news that the Oasis and Warehouse fashion chains have entered into administration will be the headline story, the low takeup of …

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Most of the nation could not care less about us having a leadership election. So, let’s do it.

The Liberal Democrat leadership election should not be delayed until May 2021. We will be going into a crucial election season without direction. Labour will have a new leader trying to rejuvenate the party. The Conservatives will be rallying around the Prime Minister. We, on the other hand, will be soul searching and asking difficult questions that should be getting solved now. How will we convince voters we’re who they should trust to help run their areas, when we cannot even decide at that point what kind of party we want to be?

The mood of the nation is not …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 43 Comments

Getting our finances right – report back from February Board meeting

At our latest meeting, the Federal Board welcomed our newest member, Lisa Smart, who has been elected the new chair of the Federal Communications and Elections Committee (FCEC), taking over from James Gurling. Welcome on Board, Lisa!

We also welcomed back to the Board Tony Harris as Registered Treasurer and Chair of the Federal Finance and Resources Committee (FFRC) and Mike German as Federal Treasurer.

Details of the outcome of elections for other key posts around the party are available on the party website. Congratulations to everyone elected and thank you also to everyone else who applied, helping to give us a strong set of names to choose from.

After our January Board meeting agreed the timings and got the ball rolling on key elements for our success this year, such as an independent elections review and our leadership election, the Board concentrated this time in particular on the Federal Party’s budget.

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments

Fancy being in charge of the party’s finances?

Peter Dunphy, the Chair of the Party’s Federal Finance and Resources Committee, is stepping down after four and a half years in the role.

He’s been an incredibly wise pair of hands, steering the party through some pretty torrid times. The change from being a party of Government with nearly sixty MPs to a party with just eight required careful handling. We’ll miss him in the role. On stepping down, he said:

In case some of you don’t already know I will be standing down as Chair of FFRC and therefore Registered Party Treasurer on 1st July.

I originally notified Party Officers including

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

So who’s on the new Federal Board?

The new Federal Board is responsible for setting the strategy of the party. But it can’t do it alone. This strategy has to be passed by Conference – which means that the Board will have to get buy-in from across the party as outlined in Article 5.2 of the Constitution.

The Federal Board shall publicise a timetable for the production of the strategy and its submission for debate by Conference. In preparing the strategy, the Federal Board shall consult widely within the party, including in particular the Parliamentary Parties (as defined in Article 9), all relevant Federal Committees, the State Parties and Specified Associated Organisations.

One the strategy is passed, the Board has to oversee its implementation and report on progress to Conference.

So who are the people who will be charged with such responsibility?

The FB will be chaired by Party President Sal Brinton who starts her second 2 year term on 1st January 2017.

Other members on the Board as of right are:

Leader, Tim Farron

A Vice-Chair of the Federal Policy Committee and Chair of the Federal Conference Committee

Three parliamentarians

One principal local authority councillor (Chris White has been re-elected to this role)

A Liberal Youth representative

English Party Chair (Liz Leffman from 1 January 2017)

Scottish Convener (Sheila Thomson)

Welsh Chair (Rodney Berman)

One person elected by each state party from among its members

The 15 directly elected members announced yesterday, who are:

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What can we learn from the Federal election results?

Yesterday, we learned who party members had chosen to represent them on the main Federal Committees.  These were the first elections held under one member one vote. Previously, only those who had been elected as Conference representatives by their local party could have a say in the direction of the party.

Congratulations to all those who were elected – and commiserations to those who weren’t.

From 2012, Daisy Cooper and Sue Doughty led a process which led to the biggest internal democratic reform in the party’s history. In 2014, Conference accepted their proposals to give every member a vote. We now have not far off twice as many members as we did back then in the last days of the coalition.

So how did these elections go, and what can we learn from them?

Who was elected?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 30 Comments
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