Tag Archives: party organisation

The people who will make the new party complaints system work

As  Lead Adjudicator for the new party complaints system I am writing to introduce the people who will make it work. 

The great strength of successful political parties lies with their members.  In our party it is the members who campaign, make policy, choose our leaders and, to a great extent, run the party.  We have more than 100,000, but all our members are human beings and subject to human frailties.  As a result, it is a sad reality that members will from time to time do things and be accused of things that bring the party into disrepute.

After years of debate a new system for handling complaints has been created.  You can read about it in Alice Thomas’s excellent post, and I wanted to introduce you to the volunteers who will make the new system work.

The first thing to make clear is that there is no ‘complaints supremo’.  The new system breaks up the tasks involved so that each decision in the process of determining complaints is made by an independent person appointed in a way that ensures that there is no perception that panels are hand-picked or results pre-ordained.

The largest number of volunteers are the Adjudicators.  All are members of the party and they have a wide range of experiences.  At various points in the process of each complaint an Adjudicator will assess the severity of a Complaint and how it is will be handled and in most cases a different three Adjudicators will later sit on a Complaints Panel to decide whether to uphold or dismiss the complaint.  Adjudicators are permitted to stand as candidates for the Party or hold office at a Local Party level, but are barred from holding office elsewhere in the Party.

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The new complaints process goes live on 1st July

It’s a good year to be a Lib Dem: we’ve gained thousands of new members, hundreds of council seats and 15 new MEPs because we are united while the Tories and Labour tear themselves apart from within. No party is immune to mistakes though and that’s why I’m proud to say that – from 1 July* – if a new complaint is made against a Lib Dem member, it will be handled under our new complaints procedure, which is consistent, clear and fit for purpose.

Federal Conference voted for this procedure at Brighton in Autumn 2018 and it has since been accepted by each of the state parties in England, Scotland and Wales. It is now time to implement it.

No complaints procedure can work without people to run it. That is why I am proud to say that more than 400 people responded to call for volunteers and we will be ready to hit the ground running. 

From 1 July 2019, complaints should be reported to the Standards Officer at LDHQ who will record the details in the case management system and send it on to the Senior Adjudication Team or “SAT”. The SAT comprises a Senior Adjudicator from each state party and our brilliant Lead Adjudicator, Fred Mackintosh.  The four members of the SAT have many years’ experience in the party and a background in making decisions and dealing with complex problems.

When a case is first raised Fred will randomly assign it to one of at least forty trained and impartial Adjudicators, who will assign any case which is more than frivolous to one of either the formal or informal routes.  At the same time the SAT will decide whether the member complained about should be suspended from membership whilst the complaint is resolved.

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1 Supporters’ Scheme 2. ?? 3. Profit!

Conference this weekend is due to vote on Vince Cable’s proposed expansion of both the electorate and potential pool of candidates for Lib Dem leadership contests (in case anyone hadn’t noticed already from the parade of leadership-supportive articles on LDV so far this week). I call it that, rather than a supporter’s scheme, because I think that is the real heart of what is controversial about what is proposed.

Thus far, criticism of Vince’s proposal has centred around entryism, and I have to say I share those concerns, despite the assurances that these concerns have been addressed. We must assume that bad faith actors will target our weakest defences, not our strongest, so for HQ to say that our new electorate for leaders would be screened by bank card checks, and then mutter under its breath “unless they claim not to have a bank card, in which case they just need to prove that they have a postal address” seems naïve to me.

Of course, we are told, if people are found to be acting in bad faith, they can be chucked out. All we need is for our bad faith entryists to a) publicly announce that they are dodgy and b) be noticed by (*checks notes*) our army of HQ staff with free time to comb Twitter for Labour and Tory trolls.

But I’d like to look at this from a different angle. Nakedly self-interested it may be, but my question is: what is the benefit of this supporter’s scheme supposed to be for the party?

Proponents tell us that, even if these supporters aren’t obliged to give the party money to join, we may still benefit from them as new recruits to our army of deliverers, tellers, door-knockers etc. They might even donate to the party in the fullness of time. Sounds great, but any local party worth its salt is already running a mailing list and offering opportunities to get stuck in helping the party. They are, to all intents and purposes, running supporters schemes. Centralising these schemes so that HQ can run them instead achieves what, exactly?

“Ah yes”, proponents say, “but not everyone has a local party worth its salt”. Quite so, but people in black-hole areas who want to deliver or canvass will find themselves distinctly underwhelmed by the incapacity of their local party to take them up on the offer. If they don’t even want to call themselves a party member, the chance that they are going to want to jump straight into a leadership role in campaigning seems, to me, a stretch.

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Opportunities for fundraisers and administrators

News of volunteering opportunities in fundraising, employment, IT and partnership building from our friends at the Federal Finance and Resources Committee

A NEW ROLE FOR SUPER-FUNDRAISERS: THE TREASURER’S AMBASSADOR 

The party must prioritise fundraising to ensure we can make a powerful electoral impact, creating a level playing field with other parties. The Federal Treasurer, Lord (Mike) German, is keen to bring in the professional fundraising expertise which we know some members have and are able to offer on a flexible volunteer basis.

We’re seeking a small number of skilled and practised fundraisers who are confident with major donor relationship-management and raising five-figure sums.  Mike will lead and advise, agreeing discussion with you where and how best you can help, but the thrust of the role will be working across your local area to suggest techniques and tactics, mentor candidates and develop prospects and new donors.  

The role is voluntary and part-time but travel costs can be recovered. Volunteers will benefit greatly from what they learn about fundraising culture and know-how in a role central to helping deliver the party’s strategy – as well as acquiring skills that can help support CVs. Volunteers will also be invited to the Treasurer’s Dinner at Conference and other federal events.

If you are interested in this important role please email [email protected].

VOLUNTEER FOR THE FEDERAL FINANCE AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE (FFRC)

The Federal Finance and Resources Committee (FFRC) is seeking volunteers to help provide specialist expertise as part of working groups looking at the following areas:

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Nick Harvey writes…Reorganisation at Lib Dem HQ

Party members may have read on political websites that Lib Dem HQ is in the process of carrying out a reorganisation, which sadly will see a reduction in the number of staff at our headquarters. 

In common with both other parties we have seen a dip in our income in the year after an election, made all the more acute after two elections (and a referendum) in two years. Donation fatigue and lower revenues are understandable at this point.

This is a phenomenon we have seen many times before.  Politics is a cyclical business, with parties consolidating after elections and …

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Could you be a local party officer?

The whirlwind of politics isn’t going to stop for very long this year, but you might want to take some time over the Summer to think about how you could become more involved in the Liberal Democrats.

One way you could do that is to stand for a role in your local party. This Autumn, every local party will hold its AGM and elect its committee for 2019. Now is the time to think about whether you could take on one of these roles.

You could choose to stand for one of the Officer roles – Chair, Secretary, Membership Secretary, Data Officer, Diversity Officer, Treasurer or take on a role on the Executive. If you are not sure about what these roles involve, why not have a look at the Members’ area of the website? 

They have some very handy guides to each of these roles and more in the Training section.

It would be really helpful if people who have done these roles would like to write about them for LDV, too, to encourage people to take them on.  Some people can be put off by the idea of being Treasurer, for example. I certainly was when I was asked to be Scottish Party Treasurer. I kind of had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing it, but I stuck around for six years and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would – and that was with the challenges of two General Elections, a Holyrood election, two referenda and two Council elections. It wasn’t just about numbers, it’s about leading the discussion on how we use our all too scarce resources and making sure we get some more.

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Reform the Reformers – Part 1 Policy making

The business world has its special expressions for what politicians call ‘reform’. ‘If you are standing still you are going backwards’ for example. In Japan there is the business concept of ‘kaizen’, translated as ‘continuous improvement’.

The UK Liberal Democrats are a reformist party. People join the party because they wish to improve things and solve problems.

By contrast some people join political parties to preserve the status quo, or a prior status quo. It’s not so common in business. I sometimes wonder if the CEO of the communist East German state company that made the famous plastic 2-stroke Trabant car, had a business philosophy of ‘continuously staying the same’.

The Liberal Democrats might find even greater success if they focused even more on their primary job of ‘reforming’. That means doing even more to solve problems and make improvements for the general public. Liberal Democrats are keen to tell the public about their liberal values and democratic principles. It is not always easy for the public to make the connection between Lib Dem values and principles, and improvements to their lives; how those principles and values solve real problems.

There is scope for improvement here.

The Lib Dems will surely do better if they are perceived more as a problem-solving service for the public. Indeed, at a recent Liberal International meeting in Berlin a spokesperson for the German FDP explained that this conclusion at a strategy meeting a few years ago led to their revival as a political force.

With the UK Lib Dems the deployment of our values and principles in solving problems, is undertaken by a relatively open policymaking system. This is where one might look for the scope for improvement.

The rules of an organisation reflect its culture.

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Introducing Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform

Prisoners get a bad rap. They get pushed around by politicians because it is politically popular to beat them with a rolled-up copy of the daily.

Just because this happens doesn’t mean it is okay. In fact, it is a fundamental abdication of our moral duty not to stand up for the human rights of our fellow human beings.

As such I been conducting some informal polling within the Young Liberals and by a landslide of 92% in favour, 8% opposing, they backed prisoner voting. Further questioning of the group indicated a 96% …

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The first results in the party internal elections are in

As we have publicised a couple of times, a new round of party elections is taking place. The electorate is the Federal Board.

The following people have been elected unopposed:

Registered Treasurer & Chair of Federal Finance and Resources Committee:     Peter Dunphy

Party Treasurer:                                               Lord Mike German

Chair of Federal Campaigns and Elections Committee:                               James Gurling

Chair of Campaign for Gender Balance:                                             Candy Piercy

Vice Chair of Federal Board:                                               Neil Fawcett

Federal Board Rep on Federal International Relations …

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Ensuring that committees can be elected by One Member One Vote

I know this is a very “party report” heavy couple of days on LDV with Zoe’s and Sal’s excellent reports on the Federal Conference Committee and the Federal Executive respectively, but there is yet more.

Last September, Conference approved Constitutional Amendments bringing in One Member One Vote for Conference.

However, the Federal Executive subsequently received advice from the Chair of the Federal Appeals Panel that the Committee Election Regulations would need to be changed in order for the next set of Committee elections to be conducted by One Member One Vote. That’s why local parties were advised to elect Federal and Regional Conference representatives for this year.

I’m part of a small group of Federal Executive members who are looking at the regulations or the Leadership, Presidential and Committee elections. The first stage of our work is to change the Committee Election Regulations to permit elections by One Member One Vote. You can see the draft changes here. The current version is here

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Reminder: How to contribute to the Federal Policy’s Agenda 2020

The Federal Policy Committee (FPC) is presently in the process of a major review exercise called ‘Agenda 2020’ to consider,

  • The challenges that the United Kingdom will face over the coming years, (economic, social, environmental, political), and, in the light of it, to prepare,
  • A statement of the distinctively Liberal Democrat approach and,
  • A map of the policy development that the FPC needs to carry out in order to achieve it.

Given what happened to the party in May, it is now more important than ever that we assert our own identity and project to the electorate what it means to be a Liberal Democrat and why the country needs Liberal Democrats.

The Agenda 2020 group (of which I am a member) has put together a paper for discussion.  It was the subject of two very lively sessions at conference and now it is out for wider consultation from members of the party.  We really want to hear your views.

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URGENT: Deadline for notifying LDHQ of Conference reps extended till Monday 7th September at midday

There was great disappointment amongst Liberal Youth members earlier this month as they were told that they were too late to notify LDHQ of their voting reps for Federal Conference. The organisation has a number of voting places allocated to it as young people often find it difficult to get elected to the role by a local party as they are more likely to move home or to be away studying half the year.

They had not been aware of the original deadline and over the past few days have made their case to LDHQ and the Federal Conference Committee. Some local parties also missed out because they hadn’t realised there was a rush.

This afternoon, Party President Sal Brinton announced that the deadline would be extended until Monday 7th September at midday.

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Opinion: Shhh! Keep this secret

Everyone knows that the Federal Party committees do important business and that this business has to be kept absolutely secret. So I can’t really say anything about Monday’s Federal Executive meeting.

But if we are to move to OMOV (one member one vote – essentially the abolition of conference representatives) there need to be reports capable of being seen in the public domain and hopefully – unlike some reports I have seen within the Party about Federal Committees – uncoloured by the standpoint of the observer.

So let’s have a go.

We talked about OMOV itself. There is now a working party including both enthusiasts and sceptics and this has gone through the necessary amendments again and is hoping that this time it’s watertight. There are some very important loose ends, like how to ensure that people can afford to attend conference, and how the members of committees are to be held properly to account. There will be some consultation work on these at the spring conference.

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Federal Committee candidate lists announced

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderIf you are a party member, you might want to head to this thread on our Members’ Forum to see the lists of people standing for the Party Committees. The ballot will be conducted predominantly online with links to the ballot being provided to those Conference Representatives for whom the party has an email address. Those emails will be being despatched imminently. Ballots will be sent by post to those for whom there is no email address. The postie will be struggling up the path with the weight of the mailing – there are over 100 candidates for the 42 places on the three committees.

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A Liberal Democrat membership revolution

We know that the Liberal Democrats, in common with other parties, have  been looking at declining membership figures for some years now. Tim Farron alluded to this in his conference speech at the weekend.

Three times as many people entered the X Factor this year than joined a political party.

In the Liberal Democrats it has been a tough three years. People have not felt confident about recruiting members because of the wider political environment. Also, many local parties feel that there is no incentive to put time and effort into recruitment when there is little or no reward for them. …

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Three things the Liberal Democrats must learn from Eastleigh

Liberal Democrats are entitled to a weekend of being incredibly pleased with ourselves. I have never been as proud of this party as I am now. The way we calmly and professionally got on with delivering a brilliant campaign on the ground was astonishingly good. Activists put their lives on hold and dedicated themselves to Eastleigh for three weeks. My eternal regret will be that I never made it there, due to a horrendous Flu and its lingering aftermath. However, Team Scotland and many others across the country phonebanked their hearts out. Yesterday in Edinburgh, we even had to have …

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Last chance to stand for important internal elections – deadline 5pm tomorrow, 18th January

Do you have a head for figures and financial management, an interest in international relations, diversity, SAOs or campaigns?

I wrote last week that there were some important internal elections next week. The electorate is very small, the newly elected Federal Executive of which I am a member. However, you don’t have to be a member of that body to stand. Many of the positions up for grabs are open to any member of the Liberal Democrats.

The posts to be elected are listed in full on the members’ only website.They include posts such as five members of the Federal Finance …

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Opinion: We should elect all Liberal Democrat nominees to the House of Lords

In 2012 House of Lords reform failed. In 2013 it’s time for Liberal Democrats to show their continuing commitment to democratic reform.

We clearly can’t get the law changed at the moment but we can make a clear, unambiguous statement of intent. It’s just simple democracy and it’s easy; the membership should elect the Liberal Democrat candidates for the Lords. One simple motion at the party conference and a bit of commitment from the leadership is all it takes.

Well of course it’s not that simple, so let’s examine a few of the arguments against and the counter arguments:

This is just internal

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