Tag Archives: Mark Pack

Lee Anderson defects to Reform UK – Liberal Democrats respond

Whilst you should never be surprised by anything that happens to the Conservative Party these days, this was perhaps one of the more readily predicted events. And, naturally, because you’d have to have a heart of stone not to get some amusement from this, there have been a number of Liberal Democrat responses to the news that Reform UK Ltd has its first MP.

The official response first though…

Wera Hobhouse was quick to point …

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PSA: Reddit AMA with Mark Pack on 3rd March!

Following the success of r/UKPolitics, a subreddit dedicated to discussion of current affairs in the UK, and their regular “Ask Me Anything”, or AMAs for short, the r/LibDem subreddit mod team, of which I’m a new member of, have reached out to Mark Pack, our Party President, to trial an AMA of our own on Sunday 3rd March at 6PM.

The thread to ask questions went up on Sunday Afternoon, and anyone, member, supporter or a curious individual, will have the chance to submit questions to Mark to answer on the Sunday. You’ll have the opportunity to ask …

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Pack’s podcast shows striking parallels between Kennedy’s leadership and now

In the 36 years the Liberal Democrats have existed as a political party, we have had eight leaders, and Mark Pack’s latest Never Mind the Bar Charts podcast offers an evaluation of one of those eight, Charles Kennedy (1999-2006). The podcast, featuring Mark chatting with the Liberal historian Duncan Brack, has just come out, and the timing is interesting.

Most of the information in it has long been in the public domain, and anyone who has read Greg Hurst’s biography of Kennedy – or, for that matter, mine of Nick Clegg – will find it a refresher rather than a revelation. What was a revelation, however, was just how similar the party’s situation is now compared with the 2001-05 parliament when Kennedy was at his peak.

There are of course some differences, notably that Kennedy’s 52 Lib Dem MPs elected in 2001 were in opposition to Labour, while the 11 Lib Dems elected in 2019 have been opposing the Conservatives. But there are some striking similarities, with some equally striking conclusions to be drawn.

Brack is a firm adherent to the conclusion Hurst drew: that alcoholism was not the cause of Kennedy’s downfall, rather he had no agenda for his leadership, and as he became more aware of this, his drinking got worse. Kennedy was a great communicator who had cut-through with the public because of his appearances on popular TV shows, but he had no clear idea of what he wanted to do with the party leadership, and never seemed to give any policy direction.

Pack takes this as read, and describes Kennedy’s approach to the 2005 general election as “muddled”. Numerically, it was the party’s most successful election, peaking at 62 MPs (up to 63 following a by-election in early 2006), but Pack says, “under those very favourable circumstances (notably the principled Lib Dem stance on the Iraq war), perhaps that was more of a missed opportunity.”

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Mark Pack hits back at activists who called for bolder, distinctive offer to voters

Last week we brought you news that 30 senior Liberal Democrats had written to the Guardian to say that the party should have a bolder, more distinctive offer to voters.

It’s only fair that we bring you the party president’s letter to the Guardian, defending the party against these claims. Mark Pack said:

Far from being too cautious, the Liberal Democrats under Ed Davey have shown incredible boldness (Lib Dems are being too cautious, say senior party members, 29 November). We are the only party committed to 0.7% on international aid, to proportional representation and to combating climate change. Above all, we are the only party to have a real plan to transform our broken relationship with Europe.

With Ed Davey as leader, our plan to get this Conservative government out of power is working, the team is united and we are winning again. Since 2020, we have taken the fight to the Conservatives – in record-breaking byelections in former safe seats from Buckinghamshire to Shropshire. We have added swathes of councillors across the country. The Liberal Democrats are the only party that wants to radically change the system from vested powers to fairer votes. We can only achieve this change through winning elections, with more MPs, more councillors, more assembly members in Wales and more MSPs in Scotland.

However, two other letters from Liberal Democrats on the same day had a different view:

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Mark Pack’s October report – let’s make it 5 in a row

You know what would be even better than four record book rewriting Parliamentary by-election wins in a row? Five.

That’s the opportunity we have with the Mid Bedfordshire by-election and our great candidate, Emma Holland-Lindsay. The issues that are big on the doorsteps are ones that will be familiar to us from campaigning all around the country – people feeling taken for granted by the Conservatives, worried about the cost of living and angry about the state of the NHS. And they think sewage should be sent to treatment plants rather than into our rivers and onto our beaches.

Polling day is 19 October and it’s absolutely one of those contests where people on the ground, talking to voters and visiting their letterboxes, will determine the outcome. It might have been a rock solid safe Conservative seat in the past, but no more!

What Have the Liberals Ever Done For Us?

That’s the title of an excellent new publication from the Liberal Democrat History Group. It comes with a preface by Ed Davey in which he says, “When you need to put your feet up after door-knocking, or to energise yourself for the next delivery round, read it to remember what we stand for and what we have done with the votes that people have lent us – and be inspired to campaign for even greater achievements in the future.”

More information about the new booklet is here and you can watch the launch event with Layla Moran, Sarah Olney, Wendy Chamberlain and Liz Barker here.

Bournemouth Conference

Many thanks to everyone who helped make such a success of our autumn conference, especially everyone who has contributed to our pre-manifesto, For A Fair Deal. That now gives us both a clear up-to-date prospectus of our overall policies and also (in the second chapter) sets our clearly our vision for the country.

If you missed out on our conference – or want to relive moments of it – you can (re)watch all the action on our website.

Conference kindly agreed the Board report, confirming the appointment of Tom Hood to the Federal Appeals Panel (FAP), and also passed our motion on the party’s finances for the next year. This froze our minimum membership subscriptions in recognition of the cost of living crisis and also included an agreed settlement with our three state parties on our mutual financial positions.

Answers to questions for the Board that were not taken in person at Bournemouth due to the time limits will appear on the party website as part of the conference reporting.

Our Party Awards winners

One of the best parts of the President’s role at our conferences is handing out our Party Awards to recognise the work of amazing colleagues around the country.

Our Bournemouth winners were:

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Mark Pack’s September report to members

Many unexpected events, good and bad, have happened to our party during this Parliament. If you’d asked me in January 2020, I don’t think any of us would have expected that three and a half years on, I could write a report to members about how our first-in person autumn Federal Conference this Parliament was coming up and about our chance to secure, just after it, our fifth Parliamentary by-election gain from the Conservatives.

It’s been quite the journey since our last in-person autumn conference. That was also in Bournemouth but back in the very different political times of 2019. We’re on the third Conservative Prime Minister of that time and – at time of writing (!) – seven Secretaries of State for Education.

But most importantly for our party, we’ve made huge progress since then in rebuilding our organisation and starting a sustained, long-term recovery.

We’ve made net gains in every round of council elections this Parliament. Alongside our four new MPs, we’ve also won control of more councils – taking the number of Lib Dem majority authorities to a tally higher even than it was before we went into government in 2010. We have a new scheme to support the new generation of candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds and we have a much expanded network of staff supporting grassroots campaigners right across the country. New, and much better integrated, website and email tools are being rolled out and, after over thirty years of people saying the Federal Board and its predecessors was too large, we finally did something about it.

But there’s much more still to do, starting with the need to turn that run of four by-election gains into a run of five next month. Find out more on how to help Emma Holland-Lindsay and the Mid-Bedfordshire by-election campaign on her website.

Rebuilding trust in politics

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LibLink: Mark Pack on Sunak’s ‘war on woke’

The Guardian has an article asking “Can Sunak’s rightwing war on ‘woke’, migrants and the environment save the Tories?” with contributions from a panel including our own President, Mark Pack:

It is, after all, the Liberal Democrats – not the rightwing populists of Reform – who have taken four seats off the government with record-breaking swings in byelections this parliament. The message from voters to Lib-Dem canvassers in those contests was very consistent. It was about the NHS and the cost of living, about sewage and failing public services. It was about being fed up with the Conservatives, their lockdown parties and their failures on the mainstream issues.

That’s borne out by pollsters too. The cost of living and the NHS are consistently the top-rated issues. Even Conservative voters want the most polluting vehicles to pay higher taxes and Conservatives are more supportive of the 2050 net zero target than voters in general.

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President’s Update: The difference your campaigning makes

So many people depend on the help and love of unpaid carers, relying on them to get through essential day-to-day challenges such as washing, dressing and eating. Yet our unpaid carers are often without adequate support, having to juggle caring with their own work.

Which is why Wendy Chamberlain’s Carer’s Leave Act, steered through the Lords by Lib Dem peer Chris Fox, is such an impressive and important achievement. A special shout-out too for Wendy’s Senior Researcher, Kathryn Sturgeon, who did a power of work on the bill.

It’s an impressive achievement because the chance for any MP outside the government to get new legislation through is rare. It’s also an important achievement because the Act gives important new support to carers, allowing time off work to manage caring responsibilities.

The Act means an estimated 2.4 million carers across the UK now have a statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave per year. The law benefits employers too as those businesses which already provide such leave report reduced recruitment costs, improved retention and better staff well-being.

Wendy seized the opportunity when it came. But she was only there in Parliament to see the opportunity because of your support and campaigning. It’s the difference that getting Liberal Democrats elected makes. Thank you.

Condolences

I know readers will want to join me in giving our condolences to Ming Campbell, after his wife Elspeth died earlier this month. As Wendy Chamberlain said, “Elspeth was a kind and generous person, known to and loved by many of us within the Scottish Liberal Democrats in North East Fife and beyond. I will treasure the memory of the time I spent with her both prior to and since my election.

Could it be you?

Five keen and talented people are needed for a variety of roles in the Federal Party, ranging from membership and supporter work to finance and judging appeals.

Even if you’re not looking for a new role, please do take a look as you may well know someone else who it would be worth you sharing this information with and encouraging to apply.

Details are up on our website for:

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++BREAKING NEWS++ Liz Truss revealed as deep cover Liberal Democrat “sleeper” agent

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss has resigned from the Conservative Party after it was revealed that she has been acting secretly as an agent for the Liberal Democrats for thirty years.

In a bizarre series of events, the disclosure that an hereditary peerage was being lined up for Liberal Democrat President Mark Pack, sounded alarm bells which led to Ms Truss’ uncovering as a Liberal Democrat “sleeper”.

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World Book Day – What are your favourite books?

Today is World Book Day, a chance to celebrate our favourite books and authors and talk about what we love to read.  So, please use the comments to talk about your favourite political books and those you read for pleasure.

One of the things which upsets me most about Long Covid is that I have been able to read so little for pleasure. Normally I’d read one book a week. Last year,  in total, I read one whole book and two half books.  However, in January alone, I’d already surpassed that. February has not been so good as I’ve been slowly increasing my hours at work which has used up pretty much all my energy.

It’s always good on World Book Day to scroll through social media and see all the children heading off to school dressed up as their favourite character. It’s a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of their parents. All too often they find out at 8pm the night before that such an event is happening and have to magic an outfit out of nowhere.  And as we come up to International Women’s Day next week, it’s worth mentioning that it is likely to be the unseen and under-appreciated work of women that  makes these things happen.

My favourite political book of all time has got to be the memoir of the 1992 US presidential campaign written by James Carville and Mary Matalin. He was Clinton’s campaign director, she was a senior member of the Bush campaign. They fell in love just before the campaign kicked off.  All’s Fair – Love, war and running for President was their hilarious account of that campaign, which shows their eccentricities off at beautifully and is a superb piece of history.

Purple Homicide, by John Sweeney, is a brilliant reminder of one fo the 1997 election’s non Lib Dem highlights. Former BBC journalist  Martin Bell took on Conservative MP Neil Hamilton in an anti-sleaze campaign after Hamilton was implicated in the Cash for Questions affair.  Again, this account is hilarious, getting its title from the “homicidal purple” trousers worn by Christine Hamilton to a dramatic encounter on Knutsford Heath.

Shirley Williams’ autobiography Climbing the Bookshelves is another special book for me. Shirley is one of my political heroes and when I read it I hear the words as she would speak them. From her evacuation across the Atlantic as a child during the war to her election as an MP, to her career as a Labour minister and then with the SDP and Liberal Democrats.

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Mark Pack: My monthly report to members

We have a chance this May to achieve something we’ve only ever managed twice before in our party’s entire history: make it five rounds of local election net gains in a row.

We should be excited about that possibility. Not only for reasons of psephology but also for reasons of power.

Every gain we make will mean more people benefiting from Liberal Democrats in office, and every gain we make will mean more opportunity to turn our policies into action.

Policies such as the great record in Eastleigh of building new houses – and keeping on winning elections.

To keep our run of local election gains going in May we need two things: candidates and teams to help them. The last time this round of seats were up for election, our calculations show that we missed out on several hundred (yes, hundred) further gains because we didn’t have enough candidates in winnable territory.

Centrally, the party is doing more to publicise the opportunities to be a candidate and to encourage more people to think about i., (The data from these surveys ends up in Lighthouse so it’s available to all local parties.)

But nothing quite beats the in person conversation, the chat over coffee, to help more people realise what a great candidate and councillor they would be. 

That’s particularly important for potential candidates for under-represented groups, who can need that extra encouragement that our party is a welcoming home for them.

Then we need to get our candidates elected, which is where help from people who don’t have local elections in their own area can be so important. Going to help in person or picking up the phone to make some calls makes the difference in close contests.

If you can help with either of these tasks, please do. There’s also a wide range of free training available to help you make the most of these opportunities.

Working together, we can get more Liberal Democrats elected and get more things done such as turning a disused rubbish tip bequeathed by a Conservative-run council into a successful solar farm, helping our planet and generating income to pay for high quality local services.

The paradox at the heart of British politics

Alongside that local picture, there’s a paradox in our national politics we also need to navigate our way through.

The public increasingly views Brexit negatively. The headline figures show a slow but sustained, long-term trend.

Some of this change comes from long-term demographic trends as those joining the adult population are overall much more pro-European than the average. Some of it too comes from people changing their minds – although much of that is a churn to/from don’t know.

In fact, when YouGov recently asked about how people would vote in a new referendum, there was only a net 1.5% of people switching direct all the way from Leave to Remain. Moreover, those increasing pro-European views are also often quite soft. Put simply, the more that the possible conditions of Britain rejoining the EU are mentioned, the further support drops.

Even so, the overall trends are clearly headed in the right direction given our pro-Europeanism. Yet there is a paradox here. Because while public opinion is increasingly negative about Brexit, public opinion is even more strongly of the view that the most important issues to people, their families and to the country are other topics.

Different pollsters ask these questions in different ways, but the pattern of answers is similar. That pattern matters because, as the last general election showed, however much we might wish the election to be about one issue, in a democracy the voters get to choose what an election is about – and they can choose to make it about something else.

Today the most important issues are the economy, cost of living and health services. These affect people directly, now, in very practical and obvious ways.

Many people face big waits for a GP appointment, can’t get on an NHS dentist waiting list, worry about ambulance times if things do go wrong, and millions are stuck on waiting lists.

Overwhelmingly, the public wants to hear those who seek to lead them concentrating on these issues. Talking about other issues instead can feel at best like missing the point and at worst disrespectful to the immediate pressures and worries they face.

The way to show these voters we understand their lives is to talk about the economy, the NHS, practical issues in their area affecting their lives, and the underlying sense of being taken for granted by the Conservatives.

Party Awards: get your nominations in

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The Party in England Responds to the Change in the Party’s Definition of Transphobia

No regular visitor to LDV can have missed the growing debate over trans gender issues. Here we publish the response from the English Party to recent events in full. Given the sensitivity of the subject we will be pre-moderating all comments in line with our editorial policies.

The English Council Executive, meeting last weekend, have agreed two motions in support of trans rights and in response to the Federal Board changing the Party’s definition of transphobia.

  1. A motion of censure for the appalling communications calling for an apology and a plan to make sure nothing like this happens again.
  2. A motion calling on the Board to seek further advice, in consultation with LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, and suspend changing the definition until that advice is received and/or Federal Conference can vote.

The motions were passed with strong support from everyone who spoke, and no one spoke or voted against. This represents a wide consensus from regional chairs and members across the country.

Just under two weeks ago, the Federal Board met for the last time and, with Federal elections still under way, chose to amend the Party’s definition of Transphobia.

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Mark Pack: Why I’m running for Party President

Editor’s Note: The LDV team has invited the three candidates for Party President to write an article for us. 

I eat tofu. I listen to podcasts. I’ve appeared on the BBC. I read The Guardian. I live in north London. Both my parents were immigrants. 

It’s a good thing that Conservative Home Secretaries and Prime Ministers don’t get a vote in our internal elections, as I’m really not the sort of person they like.

And they certainly don’t share my politics… because I want our country to be more liberal, more tolerant, more inclusive, and at the heart of Europe. The more Liberal Democrat policies we get enacted, the better people’s lives are. 

To achieve that, we need to get our strategy and organisation right. We have to have more MPs, more Mayors, more MSPs and MSs, more London Assembly members, more councillors and our first Police and Crime Commissioners.

Since taking up post as President in January 2020, we’ve made real progress implementing the lessons from the independent election review of the 2019 general election. We’ve strengthened our campaign staff, steadied our finances and improved our governance. We’ve focused on reaching diverse groups, engaging our members, and modernising our technology so we can do better in getting our messages across.

We’re winning again at local elections and by-elections – and I’m delighted that by-election winners Helen Morgan and Richard Foord are backing my campaign. 

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Meet the candidates for Party President

Update: Since this post was published we understand that the date for the hustings for England will be rearranged. We will update you as soon as we can.

Following on from the Newbies Guide to the party elections we now have the dates for the presidential hustings.

There are three candidates for President of the Liberal Democrats:

  • Lucy Nethsingha
  • Mark Pack
  • Liz Webster

Three online hustings have been arranged, one each for England, Wales and Scotland.

  • England: Sunday 23rd October, 6pm to 8pm  New date Thursday 27th October, 6pm to 8pm
  • Wales: Wednesday 26th October, 6pm to 8pm
  • Scotland: Sunday 30th October, 1.15pm to 2pm.

These meetings are for members only. You do need to book here in order to receive the link to the online event.

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Reactions to the churn

So Kwasi Kwarteng is out and Jeremy Hunt is in. How long can Liz Truss last after today’s extraordinary moves?

Prominent Lib Dems have, of course, been giving us their take on the news:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think we can see a clear message here!

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Why Brighton conference should be in your diary

Mark Pack writes on the party website:

It’s thirty years since my first autumn federal conference, appropriately also in Brighton. That 1992 conference was the start of the most successful electoral run in our party’s history – record-breaking Parliamentary by-election wins, sweeping local government gains and then a huge leap in the size of the Parliamentary Party as a tired, discredited, scandal-riven Conservative Party lost office.

As part of that run of success, two years later, we were back in Brighton again, as you may have seen from the recently rediscovered BBC footage of a younger version of me (more curls, larger

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President’s Report August 2022

The next general election

With a new Conservative Party leader nearly upon us, the range of plausible dates for the general election is wide open. As it now may well be much sooner than seemed likely at the time of our last conference, the Federal Board has been reviewing our general election plans.

Preparations are being stepped up across the party. The pre-manifesto document being debated at conference is an important part of that as is Ed Davey’s announcement of a major new package to help people with their fuel bills this winter – axing the planned increase in the fuel bill cap and providing extra help to those most in need.

This all makes now an even more important time for us all to be out on the doorsteps, recruiting new members and campaign helpers. There’s been a clear pattern in our recent electoral successes at all levels that building up campaign organisations well in advance of the formal election campaign is a central element to success.

A Membership Incentive Scheme is in place, with generous additional payments to local parties who recruit or renew party members locally, especially if it is done on direct debit.

Thanks in particular to our wonderful three Parliamentary by-election wins in the last year, when that general election comes, we’ll be a key part of the route to removing the Conservatives from government in Westminster.

That makes the Parliamentary seats in the (variously and flexibility defined) Blue Wall an increasingly important focus for us as the next general election polling day nears. But the majority of our councillors, our members and our voters are outside the Blue Wall.

So it’s not only the target seats for the next Westminster election we need to prosper at. We also need to be winning at other levels of election more broadly. We need to continue the sort of breadth in our recovery we saw in May’s local elections – amazing progress against the Conservatives in the Blue Wall and continuing recovery elsewhere, including up against Labour and the nationalists. Both of these tracks need to be successful for us to be a growing, national party.

That’s why the Board has continued to prioritise investment in the breadth of our campaigns officers network, supporting not only Parliamentary target seats but also progress in other areas too. Thank you to all the other parts of the party who have cooperated on this, giving us a much larger network of staff supporting grassroots campaigning than we had before.

Could you be a Returning Officer?

With Parliamentary selections picking up across the country, there has never been a better time to volunteer to be a Liberal Democrat Returning Officer.

Every Parliamentary selection is run by a trained Returning Officer – and although it is not a task for everyone, it’s a really valuable role that we need more volunteers for. Returning Officers need to be organised and methodical, to understand and interpret the rules, solve problems and work constructively with people whose perspectives on a situation may differ.

Does this sound like you or someone you know? If so, please contact / ask them to contact your Regional Candidates Chair in England or state Candidates Chair in Scotland and Wales to discuss the role and the availability of training. If you need putting in touch with the relevant person, just drop me a line.

There’s a training session being run on the Sunday morning at Conference, so now is a great time to get people thinking about this role.

Note that a Returning Officer cannot run selections for the local party of which they are a member, but they can help others so that others can help you.

Treating our staff well

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Mark Pack’s monthly report – June 2022

Tiverton and Honiton

We saw last year what a huge boost it gave to the party getting two new excellent MPs elected in Parliamentary by-elections. It’s good for their constituents and also good for the party’s prospects across the whole country.

We’ve also seen this month how Conservative MPs have failed to do what our country needs – to remove Boris Johnson from 10 Downing Street.

Which is why the latest contest in Tiverton and Honiton is so important for us all again. The single most effective thing you can do in the next few weeks to help bring about his demise – and to help the party win in your own patch – is to help Richard Foord get elected on 23 June.

Many of the team have gone straight into this campaign from the May local elections, without the chance to pause for the hoped for break after those. Thank you hugely to everyone who is stretching themselves to give Richard the best of chances of winning.

Thank you too to Jamie Needle and the team in Wakefield, fighting a carefully targeted campaign there which I’m sure will help the continued growth of our council group on Wakefield Council.

Treating our staff well

Some good news to report on party staff: the federal party has been awarded the ‘excellence’ status by the Good Work Standard for how we go beyond legal minimum requirements in looking after staff.
With the amount of change since the 2019 election plus all the strains of lockdowns, it’s been a particularly tough few years for our staff. But standards such as this show how we’re taking seriously making the party a good and happy place to work.

Welcome to Cllr Mike Cox and Chris French

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President’s Update, February 2022, Europe, Party reform, supporting candidates, new Vice President

The next steps in our European policy

There’s a lesson we should learn from Brexiters. It’s that for most of the road to the tragedy of the 2016 referendum they weren’t Brexiters but Euro-sceptics. For most of that time, they weren’t campaigning for Brexit to happen tomorrow, but against a particular aspect of the EU. That is how they built up a broad coalition of support to get Brexit through.

In turn, we need to do the same in reverse – to recognise that even many Remainers are put off by ‘let’s rejoin the EU now!’, but that even those who voted Leave can be won over by campaigning issue by issue on the merits of cooperation with our neighbours.

It’s an approach that party members overwhelmingly supported in our recent (with a record-breaking response!) consultation.

At our spring federal conference, we’ll be fleshing out the details of what this means when we debate a motion which sets out our comprehensive plan to reconnect our political and trading relationship with Europe.

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Mark Pack’s January report – the plan to build on our success in 2022

In 2021 we achieved something we’ve not achieved since 1993: winning two Parliamentary by-elections in the same year off the Conservatives. We start this new year with a larger Parliamentary Party than any of us would have dared dream of a year ago. (A winning run that has continued with the first council by-election of this year too – congratulations to now councillor Andrew Dunkin who won a seat from Labour from third place.)

The question now is how do we build on that success in 2022, and how do we make the most of our limited resources? Here’s the plan.

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Mark Pack’s November report: North Shropshire beckons…

Our campaign has already got off to a flying start in the by-election caused by Owen Paterson’s disgrace.

The local party had already made impressive progress in this May’s local elections. They secured a clear second place and created many marginal Conservative-Liberal Democrat wards.

Now we have a brilliant opportunity to turbo-charge that growth in our support and to see just how angry voters are about sleaze and sewage. Ed Davey is already on his third visit there.

Whether it’s by helping in person, on the phones or with your wallet, please do help too. You can donate online or sign up to volunteer. Thank you!

Thank you also to Simone Reynolds and Simon Drage, respectively our candidate and agent for the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election. More details here.

Have your say in how the party is run

There are two musts for how our party is run. It must be run in a way that is true to our values, and it must be run in a way that helps us work together to be successful.

Sadly, our 2019 General Election Review (the Thornhill Review) found major flaws in how the party operated. That cost us votes and seats.

Since its publication, the Federal Party has been making many changes in response, as I’ve covered in previous reports. But there is still important work to do.

One of the Review’s key findings was about the Federal Board itself:

There is no clear ‘leadership team’ where the three pillars of the party – political, operational, federal – can make cohesive decisions, simply, quickly, and effectively. The Federal Board – 40+ members – is not, cannot, and should not be that team.

So the Board is consulting on options for Board reform, and will put one or more to Spring Conference for members to make a decision.

As part of this we are running a consultation survey. Please do give your views via the consultation survey here.

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Put your questions to the Federal Board – next Monday evening

Next Monday evening, from 6-7 pm, the Federal Board are having an online q and a session for all party members.

Party President Mark Pack will be taking questions and I’ll be there alongside former Welsh President and AM Bill Powell.

I’d really like to see loads of you there, not least because doing this was my idea and I’ll look like an idiot if nobody turns up. We had some really useful discussions in the Federal Board booth at Federal Conference. In fact, believe it or not, I was even able to give some information about the English Party constitution.

Also, much as I love Mark, I don’t want to spend an hour arguing with him about which is the best type of chocolate.

And finally, my dogs can usually be relied upon to turn up to meetings, so if you have heard about Hazel and Bernie on Twitter, now is your chance to meet them.

Seriously, though, our party democracy is really important to us. We are a member led organisation and all the power structures should be accountable and this, for me, is part of that. It’s also important that our decisions are informed by what members are thinking and we will be having a Board meeting the very next night so what you tell us will be fresh in our minds.

Details of how to register are here:

Mark said:

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Mark Pack’s August update

Only £1 to come to conference

Our autumn federal party conference is being held online in September. There’s a brilliant offer for people who have not come to conference before: you can register for just £1.

Conference will include an important trio of linked debates: on our party’s values, our policy platform and our strategy. Traditionally, we have debated these separately at conference, even years apart. But all three need to fit together in a coherent way – which is one of the lessons from the 2019 election post-mortem. So this time we’re doing things differently.

The values and platform come from our Federal Policy Committee (FPC), while the strategy is being proposed by the Board. It sets out the practical approach which is needed to grow our party and win more elections, securing us more political power to deliver on what we believe.

Among the other conference items is also the latest stage in developing our post-2019 European policy, which you can read about here.

As I mentioned last month, the Board has also put in some important proposals for conference to decide on, including boosting our party bodies with an improved, simpler structure and set of rules. These come from the Party Body Review Group, which has run an extensive consultation with existing party bodies before drawing up the plans.

The full conference agenda and reports to conference booklet are both now out.

Additional support for the Racial Diversity Campaign (RDC)

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LibLink: Mark Pack’s June report

Party President Mark Pack has written on a number of topics in his monthly report to members for June. Here are some extracts:

Chesham and Amersham

I’m writing this month’s report before we know the result. But we do already know that we’ve had the best candidate in Sarah Green, run the best campaign and had an awesome amount of help from people all around the country.

Westminster selections are up and running

New Parliament, new name: this time around we are ‘tiering’ our seats, so the most winnable seats (aka target seats, aka key seats) are now called Tier 1 seats. Selections have started up, with advertisements going out to people on the approved list and appearing on the members-only section of the main party website.

One of the new things for this Parliament is Project Stellar: a support package for our top candidates from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Anyone selected in a Tier 1 seat from such a background can automatically qualify for this support, and depending on the numbers, we may also be able support candidates in Tier 2 seats in this way too.

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The Party President’s report for February… how is it working for you?

As usual, the Party President has graciously contacted us, asking that we place a spotlight on his monthly report. Equally graciously, we would note that you can read it here.

Mark has been President now for more than a year, and it’s been a pretty eventful term so far. But how has he performed? What, in your opinion, has gone well, and what badly? Has he changed your view on the Party Presidency itself?

For me, the jury is out on whether or not Mark has established a profile outside of the Party’s membership. It’s seldom easy, even for …

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January report from the President

The Party President, Mark Pack, has published his monthly report:

The chaotic incompetence of a government that declares schools safe on a Sunday, sends children back for a day and then closes them is the sort of thing that should be the domain of political fiction.

Sadly and tragically, it’s the government we suffer from in Westminster. It is a reminder about how important it is that we recover as a party, and a spur to our efforts to ensure we do our part in defeating the Conservatives at the ballot box.

The elections due in May across England, Scotland and Wales are an important part of that.

The May Elections

Will the elections be delayed? The simple answer is, we don’t know. But we do know that we need to campaign to do well in them whenever they happen. Other parties can gamble on trying to win an election without much time to campaign beforehand. We can’t.

That is why we need to continue with our preparations and build-up as if the May elections will happen, and treat any extra time as a bonus. Better that than be caught out thinking something wouldn’t happen and then not having time to prepare when it does.

Of course, our work should always take into account coronavirus health risks, and always carefully follow the party’s advice, which is regularly reviewed and updated when necessary.

There is a wide range of free training available to help you hone your campaigning skills and learn how to campaign best in the face of coronavirus. Do take a look at the listings on the party website and on the ALDC site.

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Welsh Liberal Democrats come together virtually

Over 120 Welsh Lib Dem members joined our first ever virtual conference this weekend.

We welcomed Ed Davey virtually to Wales for his first Welsh conference where he spoke to us about the challenges facing the party and his burning desire that we as a nation must come out of this pandemic stronger than ever before.

This linked us nicely to our first policy motion: “Wales after COVID” which paid tribute to lives lost and calls for the dial on inequality in Wales to be reset with measures such as social care funding, universal free childcare, debt bonfires, green jobs and investment in housing.

We were then joined by Party President Mark Pack who spoke of how we need to campaign in the years to come, the changes the party is making both federally and in Wales and the exciting future we have in Wales with 16 and 17 year olds now able vote in Senedd elections from 2021 and in local government elections from 2022.

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Mark Pack reports back

Party President, Mark Pack, has issued another report back to members. This time he focuses on the reports that are being presented to the online Autumn Conference at the end of September. You can read the Conference reports pack here.

This year, as a result of a review by the Federal Board on the working of our party’s central committees, there are more reports than usual to Conference. They give an interesting insight into the inner workings of the Liberal Democrats, with contributions, as usual, from the Federal Committees …

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24 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems move to scrap Section 60 Stop and Search
  • Evidence for reopening schools must be published amidst fears of Covid-19 spike
  • Nominations for Lib Dem leader open
  • Lib Dems back health leaders’ push for review into lockdown easing
  • Bank of America criticism of pound performance shows need to extend transition period

Lib Dems move to scrap Section 60 Stop and Search

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to back a new Bill to scrap suspicion-less stop and search in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, which have exposed ingrained institutional racism and discrimination in the UK.

Given the disproportionate impact of current Stop and Search laws on black people in particular, and BAME communities more widely, the Liberal Democrats will today (Wednesday 24 June) introduce a Bill to outlaw suspicion-less Stop and Search, highlighting that the current law “undermines” community trust in police.

The Party is demanding the Government back their proposal. If passed, the law would prohibit Section 60, suspicion-less stop and search, which currently leaves a black person almost 50 times more likely to be stopped than a white person. The party is further calling for a Race Equality Strategy and an end to the Hostile Environment.

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20 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 1)

So many press re;leases today…

  • Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader
  • Govt must drop ‘dog ate my homework’ approach to Prevent review
  • PM backs Lib Dem calls for COVID hero honours round
  • Govt has no answers for Brexit border issues for Northern Ireland

Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader

The Liberal Democrats have announced a fresh leadership election timetable and plans to hold an online Autumn Conference – the first for any major political party – in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At a meeting of the party’s Federal Board last night, the party agreed to holding their leadership election from June through to August. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the contest will make use of online hustings and online voting.

President of the Liberal Democrats Mark Pack, who chairs the Federal Board, also confirmed the Liberal Democrats decision to hold a digital conference in the Autumn follows “careful consideration of the latest expert advice.”

Liberal Democrat Party President Mark Pack said:

Following careful consideration of the latest public health advice concerning the coronavirus pandemic, the Liberal Democrats are planning to run the biggest online conference in British politics.

Conference plays a key role in our democratic party as well as being an important training and information exchange event. I am therefore pleased we will host an online alternative, the first for any major political party.

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