Tag Archives: supporters scheme

Eradicating race inequality

At Conference last weekend, my maiden speech as Vice President was in support of a Motion on a race equality policy paper: Eradicating Race Inequality produced by Merlene Emerson, Baroness Hussein-Ece and the Race Equality – Policy Working Group. 

I talked about my experience, as a young barrister, of seeking to comfort a Caribbean grandma who couldn’t bear to watch her young, black grandson being sentenced for possession of a knife. 

A knife he’d felt forced to carry to protect himself from gangs. 

I assured her then that her grandson would be treated fairly, but had no idea that my words were as hollow then as they would be if I said them now, some twenty years later. 

The statistics are shocking:

  • BaME people are the most likely in our society to become a victim of crime or to fear becoming a victim* (leading to disproportionate numbers of BaME people feeling forced to carry a knife for protection)
  • rates of prosecution and sentencing for black people are three times higher than for white people **

It is clear that our criminal justice system, like politics, is broken.

I am glad that the Motion was passed and that there was such overwhelming support for it. It provides an excellent blueprint for our policy work in this area going forward. 

Registered supporters’ scheme

I later had the chance to speak in support of a registered supporters’ scheme. 

I acknowledge that there were many aspects of the Motion that were controversial and I will leave it to those better qualified to address those particular points. 

My viewpoint was in relation to attracting more BaME voters, members and candidates to our Party.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 5 Comments

Supporters Pack now available

Voice received the following from HQ:

On Saturday at our conference, members voted to create an registered supporter’s scheme for the Liberal Democrats.

In the first 24 hours after we launched the scheme, more than 2,000 people joined in almost every single Westminster constituency in Britain.

More supporters are joining every hour.

To help you make the most of these new supporters, the Membership team at HQ have produced some resources for you – which you can access here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/supporters-local-party-guide

The launch pack covers everything you’ll need – from an explanation of what supporters are to template emails and social media graphics to help recruit even more supporters.

It also includes how to find the people that have become registered supporters in your area.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 3 Comments

Open up the Leadership and relax the rules

The current political climate, with the two main political Parties further apart in their ideologies and policies than they have been for many years, together with the division engendered by Brexit, afford a great opportunity for the party to reinvigorate its place and image with the electorate.

To date, the Party has not persuaded the electorate that its Liberal values and principles make it their natural political home. Supporting Remain has not delivered a magical formula. The spectre of a new independent party should be a wake-up call to all Liberal Democrats.

The Party is too often seen as excluded from the battleground of British politics, not a vibrant and existing choice for disillusioned voters. The Party presents as a monochrome image of middle England. Labour is the party that has captured the passion of the youth vote. Local parties run as retirement pastimes or as an alternative to the allotment, will not make the Liberal Democrats the voice for the centre ground voter.

I agree with the proposals to open up membership and the leadership of the Party. At a recent International Women’s Day event Liberal Democrat peer, Floella Benjamin, made the point that no one group of people have a preserve over politics and that it is for everyone. Opening the pool of persons eligible to stand as Leader gives the Party the best chance of attracting a potentially exceptional leader. We need to focus on persons who can ignite Liberal democracy in the mindset of voters.

Love or loathe his politics, Nigel Farage has managed to secure a prominence and influence on the political landscape which any Lib Dem politician would die for. Vibrant and in-touch leadership is crucial. Gina Miller is an example of the type of leader the Party needs in the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and diverse society that the UK in the 21st century has become. We need to be led by a leader who mirrors our society as it is today and one who can send the message of inclusivity that is at our core; one who can bestride the global stage with true credibility to propel the Party to a position akin to Justin Trudeau of the Canadian Liberal Party.

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

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Why we need the Supporters’ Scheme

On Saturday I was at a Lib Dem Women event for International Women’s Day, and in a few of the excellent breakout sessions, found myself sitting next to a highly engaged and articulate woman who I presumed was a Councillor or PPC. It transpired that she was not even a member of the Lib Dems, but “still considering” whether to join, due to time constraints and not being sure if she was ready to commit. When I mentioned the prospect of a Supporters’ Scheme her eyes lit up. “That sounds ideal,” she said.

It’s not the first time I’ve met someone who considers themselves to be a Lib Dem supporter but doesn’t feel ready to join the party. Indeed, on the doorstep over the past few months, from Streatham to St Albans, I have spoken to countless people who have told me they will deliver leaflets, perhaps consider coming along for a canvassing session, and certainly vote Lib Dem – but they’re not actually members, and they’re not ready to be. Making that commitment to joining just seems like a step too far for those who consider themselves to be politically aware but are time poor, or maybe just not quite ready to stand up and say they’re a Lib Dem.

There are then numerous reasons to endorse the Supporters’ Scheme. It’s been well documented that I was previously a Labour supporter – I didn’t join the Lib Dems until last August. But in the two years leading up to that decision, even though I was leaning towards the Lib Dems and am very much a Liberal in every sense, shaking off the tribalism that had been part of my life since I was old enough to understand that people had different political views felt like an enormous step.

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments

Trust our voters to choose our leader

I chair the Federal Committee that designed the structures for the Supporter Scheme. My committee members worked incredibly hard on these discussions, reading long reports and complex spreadsheets and interpreting data to come to the best decisions for this new project. On almost everything we reached consensus views. The one area where there was no consensus was the most controversial question – whether these new supporters should be allowed to vote in Party Leadership elections.

I absolutely understand why this is a difficult issue. There are good, sensible reasons to pause and worry. I was very against the idea at first but, after a lot of thought, I changed my mind. I now, personally, think we should feel the fear and do it anyway.

At a General Election, many voters are temporarily hypnotised by the media into thinking they are voting for the next Prime Minister. They forget that they are a voter of Anytown, and are voting for Anytown’s MP. Instead, they get caught up in ‘who do I prefer as Prime Minister’? They vote for the Party they want to see in Government. 

This narrative often causes a big squeeze on our Party’s vote. That’s why we need all our leaflets, to remind people that their vote decides who represents their area in Parliament. But it’s impossible to stop people from looking at Party Leaders as the people they are voting for. 

This is the heart of why I think supporters voting for Leader is sensible. We need a Leader who inspires our members, who understands our Party and has good internal leadership. But we also need our Leader to appeal to our voters. To be someone who they are inspired by and with whom they feel a sense of connection. It’s not enough to be a Lib Dem Leader who inspires internally. They must inspire our voters too.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

Happy Birthday to the Liberal Democrats – let’s be bold, confident and radical

The Liberal Democrats are 31 years old today.

Courtesy of my Facebook memories, here is what I wrote on our 30th birthday last year.

30 years of the Lib Dems today! 30 years of having the courage to stand up for what we believe in.

I think what I like best about us is that we have such an optimistic view of people – our citizens are not to be contained and restrained but given power to run their lives and communities as they see fit with a state ensuring that everyone gets a fair chance in life.

I am proud to be part of this movement. You don’t get to 30 without screwing some stuff up, but we have made sure that we have an international aid target enshrined in law, we put mental health on the political map – easy to forget that nobody except us was tailing about it 10 years ago – and we achieved same sex marriage.

I’ve met some of the people who mean the most to me in the whole world through this party. I love all my passionate, curmudgeonly, stubborn, creative, awkward, kind, curious and loving Lib Dem friends.

And I said on here that we needed to spend our next decade being bold, confident and radical.

Our task for the next 10 years is to continue to be right, to be audacious in getting our message across, to be bold, radical and insurgent. We have fought our way back before. We need to be confident that we will do so again.

We are at heart generous-spirited and optimistic. We see the best in people, we want them to have the opportunities to be the best that they can be. That is a joyful and positive message and it even has substance behind it. All the things we want to achieve have their roots in our belief that “no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Sal Brinton writes: A chance to change the face of our politics by engaging with supporters

At Spring Conference at York we will be debating the role of supporters of the party. This follows the extensive consultation we had in the Autumn. You will remember that we had two consultation sessions at Brighton (you can find the consultation document here , after which the Federal Board arranged for a series of further consultation sessions around the country, as well as member webinars and an online survey. Many thanks to the thousands of you who asked questions and also responded to the survey.  At these sessions we promised that members would have the final say on the details of a registered supporter scheme, and we will vote on them on Saturday afternoon at Conference. You can find the Business Motion setting out the arrangements starting on Page 42, with constitutional amendments starting on Page 46, of the Conference Agenda.

Most of you told us that you liked the idea of registered supporters, and understood that the idea of attracting people who might not want to join the party straight away, but who were valuable campaigners, both online and in person, was something we should focus on. The Federal Board has been applying these principles to our Exit from Brexit campaign, and in a few short months 250,000 people have supported the campaign, many donating to the party. 

The proposals say that we should look at giving registered supporters some rights – not as many as members: members should always have an increased level of rights. These include allowing registered supporters the right to vote for a potential leader of the party (but not to nominate a candidate for Leader: that remains with members only). It also proposes allowing non-MPs to stand for Leader, broadening our base. These latter proposals require changes to the Constitution, so will be voted on separately requiring a 2/3 majority. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 33 Comments

Christine Jardine MP writes….Let’s invite people in who want to help us build a movement

It was when Charles Kennedy was standing to be leader that I found it most frustrating not to be a member.

I had supported the Liberal Democrats since I was old enough to vote.

Here was a man whose political ideals epitomised what I believed in and I desperately wanted him to leader.

But I couldn’t do anything to help him, or support the party.

I was a journalist. I worked for the BBC, often covered politics and, throughout my career, my impartiality had to be transparent.

When I was eventually able to join the party it was at a point in my career where I had moved away from reporting.

It still took some time to persuade my husband that there would be a professional life after joining and, significantly, that it would not damage his career or reflect on him.

If only there had been a supporters scheme then I could have been involved, voted for the leader and done my bit to help without jeopardising my livelihood.

And I was not alone in that.

I remember losing an active, and effective campaigner, in the highlands because he was promoted and his new role was politically restricted.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 11 Comments
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