The Presidential Platform (1): Ros Scott for President

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. Today it’s Ros Scott’s turn.

In my view, one of the key jobs of the Party President is to represent the views of members and activists to the Leader and to the paid executive.

Very few people join our Party out of any sort of tribal loyalty. People join because they believe in what we stand for and what we’re trying to do.

Our future success cannot be assured unless we maintain a healthy internal party democracy, where members feel involved and informed about decisions made by the Party. Simply electing rafts of committees doesn’t, in itself, achieve this. For genuine democracy to exist we need clear accountability – the “who decides what” and better communication with the membership of what the issues are and what their views are.

As President I would continue to do what I’ve always done – visit local parties regularly, campaigning, talking to members about key issues facing us, and most importantly, listening to what they have to say. I will do my utmost to get to one conference a year in Scotland and Wales and in each of the English regions, as well as keeping in touch with the Specified Associated Organisations (SAOs).

I would keep in touch regularly, through my blog, articles in Party publications and using e mail. We can make much more use of on-line surveys and email communication to take very rapid soundings on items up for decision. Steve Webb has used this sort of communication to develop a valuable dialogue with thousands of his constituents, and I’d like to adapt this model for communication within the Party.

The Leader has many demands on his time, and much of what he does will inevitably be outward focussed. Part of the President’s job is to make sure that the voice of the members and activists does not disappear into the Westminster bubble. The relationship between President and Leader is an important one for the Party and should be complementary and not competitive. Supportive in public, but in private, to be candid where necessary.

I’ve lost track of the number of meetings I’ve attended over the years where we talk about the need to increase membership, but like the other two big parties, our membership has inexorably declined.

We need to review what it is we offer our members, and what the incentives are to local parties to go out and recruit. I am also keen that we look at how we might involve those people who already support us but aren’t ready to take the step of becoming full members. Some kind of associate membership might well be a way to recruit people who support a particular campaign, a particular candidate, a particular local party. Informal flexible networks are growing in importance, and we should reflect that trend within our own structure.

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To coincide with this article I am publishing the results of the grassroots survey conducted over the spring. For more on this, and more on my manifesto, go to http://im4ros.com.

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8 Comments

  • Tony Greaves 7th Oct '08 - 5:09pm

    How good it would be to have a Party President whose experiences in the party were founded as a councillor (indeed a council group leader and ?joint/deputy leader of a large council.

    Tony Greaves

    PS Sanity and ocmmon sense are also useful assets.

  • Susan Gaszczak 7th Oct '08 - 8:41pm

    Really nice to see a well thought through plan. Ros is the right person for our president.

  • David Allen 7th Oct '08 - 11:55pm

    Rational, intelligent, committed, principled. Just the way our Party used to be.

  • Pete Perren 10th Oct '08 - 1:00pm

    Wonderfully clear and direct statement of priorities – building membership (how often do we preach that local parties and representatives are only sustainable if we have a critical mass of membership – and why expect nation position to be different?) and nurturing/sustaining party structure.

    M’Lud TG is right about council background – anyone who has survived (or even thrived) in that thankless and unforgiving environment certainly has the skills for the Job. I’m 4 Ros

  • Tony Hutson 12th Oct '08 - 9:09am

    Happy to give you my support, Ros, and I hope other members will sign up now after reading this. We need an active, energetic President with a fresh, membership-based approach. Good Luck!

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