The 12 Op-Eds of Xmas (Day 6)

Throughout the festive season, LDV is offering our readers a load of repeats another chance to read the 12 most popular opinion articles which have appeared on the blog since 1st January, 2008. At the half-way mark is this posting by Chandila Fernando, which appeared on LDV on 8th October…

The Presidential Platform (1): Chandila Fernando – the troubleshooter

Liberal Democrat Voice has offered each of the three candidates for the post of Party President three platforms pieces on LDV during the contest to make their case to party members. How they choose to use these platforms is entirely up to them. First up is Chandila Fernando, whose campaign website can be found here.

1. Why are you running for President?
The Party must move into the 21st Century and operate in a 24/7 media driven environment. Our structures are outdated, bureaucratic and sloth like. Sadly, the same is true of our image that has not changed since the 1980s. I believe incremental reform is not enough if we want to compete with Labour and the Conservatives. I’m running to put forward a radical, dramatic and challenging program for how I believe the party needs to change.

2. Why did you call yourself the troubleshooter?
My commercial experience is best described in this way

3. What is the single biggest challenge facing Liberal Democrats?
Communicating a simple message that can be heard and understood by the voting public

4. In your opinion what is the role of the President
An effective administrator, national activist and spokesperson who can galvanize the morale of party troops

5. So, what specifically do you want to change about the party’s structure?
We have the annual turnover of a single branch of a high street department store, but a decision-making structure as bureaucratic as the former Soviet Union. We need to empower individual staff and activists whilst holding them properly to account.I want us to decentralize our funding. I will consult on precise details and mechanisms, but favour 50% of small donations and subscriptions being remitted to local and regional parties.

6. And what precisely do you mean by modernizing the party?
The Liberal Democrats must become the first mainstream political party to move away from the tired concept of card-carrying membership. Lib Dem membership is in serious decline. We need to build a stronger relationship with the 99% of Lib Dem supporters who are not paid-up members. Modern technology makes it possible and desirable to move to a system of registered supporters. Again, I will consult on all the details, but my blueprint is available on my website. The party should also go through a full rebranding exercise. We still look and feel just like we did twenty years ago. In that time, we have seen the rise and fall of new Labour and the Tories have re-branded twice. I will be consulting with some of the country’s leading brand managers during my campaign. The party should be doing this!!

7. Some people say you are on the “loony right-wing” of the party, how do you respond to that?
NO. I believe the Lib Dems should support lower taxes, smaller government and more personal freedom. I like the way Nick Clegg is taking the party, and want him to go further. But this election is about how the party operates, not its policy platform. If I’m elected, I will focus my efforts on streamlining, decentralizing and modernizing the party.

8. Just a few years ago, you were a member of the Conservative Party. Why should people trust you as a recent recruit to the Liberal Democrats?
I left the Tories for a number of reasons, but mainly because of their position on race and immigration. As the son of an immigrant myself, I am appalled by the way the Right often takes an extreme, populist and dangerous stance on these sensitive and explosive issues. I am a true liberal and feel at home in the Lib Dems. David Cameron may have given the Conservatives a new-look, but he has not fundamentally changed his party. We need to worry more about ex-Lib Dems supporting the Tories, rather than ex-Tories joining the Lib Dems. If we are serious about government, we must accommodate and embrace millions of people who have been lifelong supporters of other parties.

9. You don’t have any chance of winning this election, so isn’t just a wasted vote to support you?
There’s no such thing as a wasted vote in a preferential election. Cast your first preference vote for me – even if you think I will come third – and then cast your second preference for either Lembit or Ros. This will send a clear signal that the party needs serious reform and thinking otherwise is denial.

10. How will you cast your second preference?
My second preference will go to the candidate who adopts the boldest manifesto for reforming and modernizing the party.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.

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