Tag Archives: party reform commission

Nearly three years on, how does the Bones Report look?

Back in 2008 the Report of the Party Reform Commission to the Federal Executive was published, more commonly known as the Bones Report after its Chair, Chris Bones. Both the process for drawing up the report and the report itself was not without its critics at the time (e.g. see here and here) but since then it has been a topic only rarely talked about, even amongst party administration insiders.

So how does it looking, approaching its third anniversary, and does it set the right or wrong course for the party organisationally – or has it become an irrelevance?

In one respect, …

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 15 Comments

Ros Scott writes … Party President’s report to members, January ’10

In the two months since my last report, the election campaign has started in all but name.

After a phenomenal amount of work by the manifesto team – led by Danny Alexander, the party’s policy unit headed by Christian Moon, and the Federal Policy Committee – we have now established the broad outlines of our campaign:

  • Reform of the tax system to create a fairer base,
  • introducing the pupil premium to give all children a fairer start in life,
  • creating sustainable housing and jobs and
  • political reform to bring in a fairer voting system, and

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

Chris Bones answers your Party Reform Commission questions

Last week, LDV published an article by Christopher Bones, chair of the Lib Dems party reform commission, explaining how he and his colleagues had set about their work, and highlighting the report’s key recommendations. Chris also volunteered to answer any questions submitted by members in LDV’s forum. A number of you did so, and Chris has replied to all the questions/comments posed here. If anyone has supplementaries, Chris has volunteered to have a second go – and of course there will be opportunity at conference (9am, Monday, 14th September) to have a fuller discussion.

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Have you got a question on The Bones Commission?

A quick reminder to LDV readers that Christopher Bones, chair of the Party Reform Commission, has agreed to answer questions submitted by LDV readers in our members’ forum. To put your question to him, please access the LDV members’ forum, and use the thread headed BONES COMMISSION ON PARTY REFORM – ask your questions here! in the Party Organisation section.

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Chris Bones writes… The Party Reform Commission – taking the Lib Dems forward

At the beginning of the year Nick Clegg as Leader, Simon Hughes as Party President, and Chris Rennard as Chief Executive asked me and my colleagues, Cllr Duncan Greenland, Kate Parminter and Paul Burstow MP, to produce a report into how the Liberal Democrats’ internal organisation could be built upon to double our number of MPs over the next two general elections. I was delighted to have this opportunity to serve the party, which I have supported for nearly 30 years, in this way. The process has been hard work, frustrating at times, surprising – but in the end rewarding.

All conference delegates should have received the executive summary of our work. An electronic version of both the executive summary and the full report, which runs to over 90 pages, will be available later today for party members in the members-only section of Liberal Democrat Voice. There will be an email from the Party President going out to all members later this week drawing their attention to our work as well as a number of articles in this week’s Lib Dem News.

I know that many Liberal Democrat bloggers, including Stephen Tall here on Lib Dem Voice, have expressed some concerns about how the distribution of the report has been handled. I understand and to some extent share those concerns. Communication in these circumstances is a problem straight out of the management textbooks, and unlike the answers in the textbooks I have to take issue with those of you out there who believe there is one right way of doing things.

Whilst the way we organise decision making and at times shroud it in unnecessary mystery is an area we take on in our report and address through some very direct proposals for streamlining and opening up party structures and processes, there was a very real dilemma in the way we rolled out the full report. The problem with resolving a dilemma is that, whatever you do, some people are not going to be happy and I take accountability for the decisions made on communication given the structures and processes we employ today.

Under our current setup we felt it would be wrong for affected party bodies and committees, and indeed potentially affected individuals, to read about our proposals for their futures at the same time as the mass of the party membership. Had we done this we would have faced equally powerful criticism from those who believe that the democratically elected bodies that run the party should be communicated to and consulted with first.

We as a Commission tried to ensure that we spoke to those who would be most affected by our proposals first, and explain our thinking to them and engage in dialogue with them – a process which is currently ongoing with, amongst others, the Federal Executive and the English Council Executive. Additionally we have had to present to the Federal Conference Committee, to the parliamentary parties in Westminster, and (rightly) to staff, many of whose roles are affected by the review. We have still to hold reviews with the party in Scotland and Wales, and no doubt there will be others along the way who want their say.

In addition we have the environmental dilemma of printing off a 90-plus page full report for every conference delegate or, as we eventually decided, to agree a shorter executive summary and issue the full report online, drawing as much attention to it as possible through channels such as LDV, Lib Dem News and others.

Finally, there was the issue of timing the release of the full report: August, when everyone is away on holiday, or wait till the first week of September when Lib Dem News re-starts, and we can get as much publicity for it as possible.

This may sound defensive – it isn’t meant to be: it is an explanation of the real dilemmas that face any leadership in how to communicate proposals for change. It is a shame that for a small minority the process of communication has led to entirely inaccurate speculations about motivations, hidden agendas and internal politics.

However, I can appreciate that from the outside the to-ing fro-ing between various opaque party committees and the communication dilemmas on timing may have looked somewhat unaccountable and undemocratic. Whilst the communication issues are real and sensitivities need managing in any organization, the to-ing and fro-ing does need challenging and changed for the better.

I believe that the whole process therefore made it clear that we a need a much more transparent and accountable decision making process for issues such as this report. And that, happily, is precisely what this report is proposing.

In coming to our conclusions we heard from hundreds of party members and local parties, spoke to many leading figures in the party with a diverse range of experience and knowledge and consulted widely with party bodies and committees. We received a great response from the party as a whole, which was characterised by consistency in the issues being raised.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 31 Comments

The report you’ve all been waiting for…

Jo Christie-Smith wins a cookie for being the only blogger to spot my half-reference this morning to the executive summary of the Bones Commission report, now on general release as part of the conference material. It’s here and some choice quotes follow.

On “achieving coherence, alignment and focussed resources”:

In the vast majority of voluntary organisations in the UK there is an established difference in role between the top governance body, the volunteer organisation and the professionals they employ. Our constitution reflects this as a principle but in its separation of powers it effectively

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 25 Comments

Liberator on the Bones Commission: “Clegg has just effected a power grab”

There’s a must-read article in the latest Liberator taking a behind-the-scenes look at the clearly heated internal Lib Dem discussions of the Bones Commission into party reform. You can read it in full here.

Three things stand out:

1. That the report receives a general welcome (albeit some way down the page): “Much of Bones is sensible. Its central thrust seeks to deliver Clegg’s incautious commitment to get 150 MPs by the election after next. Its warning that resources need to be poured into a second tier of 200-odd winnable seats will be widely welcomed, in particular by critics of the …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

Memo to the party re: Bones Commission – time to get with the Internet!

Last week, the Lib Dem blogopshere lit up following a report in The Times alleging that the Bones Commission on reforming the party’s structures would “turn the party’s traditional structure on its head, centralising all decision-making under a new “chief officers group” and diluting the roles of its committees.” Nick Clegg himself addressed some of the concerns in an article for Lib Dem Voice last week.

Inevitably much of the speculation is just that, as few outside of the party’s inner circles have yet seen the report. And fair enough, to a great extent. After all, the report was …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Nick Clegg writes for LDV: making the Lib Dems “fit for the battle ahead”

The next general election may be only a matter of months away. In the seven months since becoming Leader I’ve been concentrating on making sure that the Party is ready for the election whenever it is called.

This means working hard to develop strong new policies and clear messages. It also means strengthening our capacity to campaign so that we can achieve our ambition of doubling our number of MPs in two general elections.

Simon Hughes, Chris Rennard (Chief Executive and Chair of the General Election Campaign) and I set up the Bones Commission early this year to come …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 22 Comments

Times: Clegg to overhaul Lib Dem structure

It looks like ‘well-placed sources’ have given The Times a sneak preview of reforms Nick Clegg wants to adopt streamline/centralise* decision-making within the Lib Dems:

He is determined to overhaul an internal structure that allies say severely curtails the powers of the leader and splits internal controls between a series of committees.
Mr Clegg, who became leader in December, plans to turn the party’s traditional structure on its head, centralising all decision-making under a new “chief officers group” and diluting the roles of its committees. Sources said that the move risks causing a serious rift between Mr Clegg and Lord Rennard,

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 43 Comments

Party reform commission deadline today

A quick reminder that today is the last day for submissions to the party’s reform commission headed by Chris Bones, so please get any remaining submissions in as soon as possible.

Contributions should be emailed to [email protected] and should address how the party can best meet the Leader’s aim of reaching more than 150 MPs within two general elections. Specific questions to be answered are listed on the party’s website.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Clegg signs top management guru for Party Reform Commission

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, President Simon Hughes and Chief Executive Chris Rennard have announced a party reform commission to undertake a complete review of all the party’s functions.

Nick Clegg said, “the Party Reform Commission is critical in ensuring that we make the best electoral impact over the coming years. I am determined that this root and branch review should take us towards meeting my commitment of at least doubling our number of seats within two elections.”

Chris Bones, Principal of Henley Management College, has been picked to head the review. He is a former director of Cadbury Schweppes …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 19 Comments

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