The Morrissey Report: We must take chance to be a more effective, respectful team

Helena Morrissey is a businesswoman, not a lawyer.  She brings to our party her experience of functional and dysfunctional organisational practices, and a sympathetic, listening ear.

After a long, hard look at our organisation, our internal party culture, and our values, she finds us broadly well intentioned, but structurally deficient. Chiefly, we fail to have widely advertised, open and transparent procedures in place to deal with a clear organisational risk: abuse of power.

As a member of the parliamentary staff of the Lib Dems and a PPC, I applaud Helena Morrissey. When you read the report you will see that she has managed to expose both what is truly great, and what is utterly incompetent about our party, in its current and past forms. It would be hard to overestimate the importance of this report for Lib Dems all over the country and in Brussels.

We must not kid ourselves:  other organisations also suffer from highly constrained resources, moments of crisis, and still manage to retain these basic, core procedures. In any other field of work, charity, business or civil service, the unprofessionalism which is current in political offices would not be tolerated.

The working environment in Westminster, led by dominant personalities and their loyal supporters, does not lend itself easily to transparent working practices. By allowing staff to be isolated in a disparate organisation and without sufficient pastoral support, subject to often erratic bosses without formal HR training, we are severely letting ourselves down.

There are some areas which Morrissey doesn’t touch on, such as the connection between how people are recruited and how they later behave. Transparent recruitment processes not only recruit better, more diverse teams from a wider pool, but they demonstrate on entry to an organisation that we are serious about treating people with respect. Like most political parties, we also fail in this respect.

People are not only our greatest asset as a political party, they are our only asset. We must not lose momentum on this vital issue: the sooner we truly demonstrate respect for people throughout our ‘labyrinthine’ organisation, the sooner we will be the effective team we seek to be.

* Jemima Bland is the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Well said Jemima!

  • Helen Dudden 14th Jun '13 - 5:17pm

    A very honest article, but will it do any good?

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Jun '13 - 7:57pm

    I am concerned that we are being forced to accept that sex and race discrimination is acceptable as long as it is against white males.

    Discriminating against someone because of their race, sex or sexuality is a huge injustice and I am going to try to fight this.

    I hope fighting it does not take up too much of my time, but I can’t just stand by and watch this happen.

  • V powerful. I haven’t had a chance to read the report but believe more formalised safeguards for individual employee protections will drag the organisation kicking and screaming into a modern workplace. I suspect a few people didn’t feel they could speak up and left.

    I wish you all the best in your campaign for East Worthing and Shoreham

  • Eddie Sammon 17th Jun '13 - 10:25pm

    I’ve seen the light! Diversity should be a criteria as well as merit (but still merit as the overarching criteria as the report says), because it brings people in from different backgrounds and with different experiences.

    I’ve been negative towards Lib Dem Women due to my fear of me and others being discriminated against, but I can see how focusing a little bit on diversification as well as merit helps too.

    I still think that the Labour Party have taken discrimination too far and I sometimes worry it will happen to this party, but at least I’ll be able to argue the case with a bit more understanding.

    Sorry for the negative attitude!

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