Tag Archives: Federal Council

Welcome to my day: 2 October 2023 – autumn has come…

It’s October already, and despite the rather pleasant September that we’ve had, today offered a sense that the seasons are turning. And whilst the Conservatives are still in Manchester, engaged in what the Economist described as “magical thinking” (paywall, I’m afraid), the rest of us have moved on to what will happen in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Tamworth and, of most interest to Liberal Democrats, Mid Bedfordshire.

If the polls are accurate, Labour should win in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, but Tamworth is supposedly neck and neck, despite Labour’s recent performance in local elections there, and Mid Bedfordshire is being claimed by all three major parties. Should the Conservatives hold either or both, it will be a confidence boost for them, even if it persuades them to keep going as they are – in the face of the national polling data. Thus, it’s important that we keep pushing in Mid Bedfordshire, and I’m perpetually impressed by the reports of activists converging on the area from across the country.

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

Scrutiny in Federal Council – why we are not there yet

Federal Council is not yet a productive committee. In fact, given I’ve had to skip at least one canvassing session to attend it, I might go as far to say that it’s been a net negative in terms of achieving the party’s goals of getting liberals elected.

It has so much promise. In the handy visual diagram of the party’s committees provided in the conference handbook, it’s shown as equal to Federal Board, so is a committee that if effective yields important power. But so far, we have little to show for our time.

Much has been said about our power to call-in and overturn Board decisions, but for me, the call-in power should only be one of last resort—an Emergency Stop to the workings of the federal party only to be used in extreme circumstances. Our other power, that of asking the Board to respond on any issue, has barely been used. We have had Q&As with the president, but if all Federal Council can aspire to be is another forum for Q&As, indistinguishable from those asked of the Board at Conference, then we are failing in the responsibility to Conference when the Federal Council was created as the compromise for a smaller, more agile Federal Board.

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | 3 Comments

Federal Council – a body still in search of meaning… or rules, for that matter…

I was elected to Federal Council in April, following the resignation of Alison Eden from the Party, so yesterday’s meeting was my first as an official member…

Joining any organisational committee part way through its term of office can be challenging, and I suspected that Federal Council would be no different, given that there is a degree of informational vagueness that currently pervades it. For example, it has currently decided that members may, if they wish, give reasons for their call-in requests and are encouraged to do so, but do not have to. It strikes me that, in order to consider the value of a call-in request, or even to respond to it, that’s exactly the sort of information I’d want.

Federal Council has also somehow managed to get one-sixth of its way through its first term without Standing Orders, a communications plan or a transparency policy, which led to the truly bizarre situation of a member demanding a point of order when no such order exists. Now this is not my first rodeo, as I was the first Secretary of the Federal International Relations Committee when, in 2017, it dealt with all of these things at its first meeting. I am, to put it politely, surprised that this has taken as long as it has.

The main item of business was, in itself, imperfect, as it revolved around a request to “call in” the Federal Board’s decision to appoint six members of the Disciplinary Sub-Group. Imperfect because, whilst thirteen members (the minimum required) had originally called it in, one of them subsequently withdrew their request, making the call in notice inadequate. Nevertheless, as the discussion had been put on our agenda, and the Party President had prepared a presentation, we went ahead with what might have become merely an interesting discussion without purpose.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 4 Comments
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