The Presidential Platform (2): Ros Scott for President

Liberal Democrat Voice has offered each of the three candidates for the post of Party President three platform 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. This is the second of Ros Scott’s contributions.

I am delighted that Vince Cable has chosen to put his full weight behind my candidature – on Monday the whole party will receive our manifestos and ballot papers and I am looking forward to hearing more of their views, and meeting as many local parties as possible around the country.

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34 Comments

  • Mark Littlewood 11th Oct '08 - 12:34am

    Is that really Ros’s second pitch?

    I think most folk on here will admire Vince.

    But why would we care where he puts his weight? Let alone his whole weight.

    I think Ros will make a great President – she is intelligent, hard-working, sharp and personable – and I think it very likely she will win, but I really hope we can get away from “politics by endorsement”.

  • If this is really the best you can manage then personally I would not have you sweeping the floor.

    Truly pitiful.

  • I hope we can get way from the absurd situation the party used to be in where
    there was an attempt to prevent any form of personal endorsement. Surely the Liberal Voice reps will see that as an infringement of liberty?

    To be cyncial, is it just people who can’t get endorsements who don’t like other people having them?

    It seems entirely legitimate for people who know and have worked with candidates to be able to say they endorse them.

    It’s a bit like having references at a job interview, one factor to be taken into consideration.

    When Mark Oaten and Lembit failed to get support for leadership bids, surely that was significant. It seems Ros has endorsement from a wide range of the party, Lembits endorsements seem more based on personal friendship, on the otherhand, Ming and Nick Clegg raked up huge endorsements, I still didn’t vote for them.

  • Apols, I meant Liberal Future reps – bit of a branding problem 😉

  • Martin Pool 11th Oct '08 - 3:22pm

    ITS TIME FOR AN ARMS LENGTH PRESIDENT

    Mouse – I will tell you why I dont like endorsements.

    I am not against endorsements per se but I am extremely worried when there is such blatent unrelenting bias from the leadership. Why ?? What are the leadership so scared of that they are putting such obvious weight behind one candidate? I dont like it at all.

    In my view the most important role of the President is to hold the leader and the cabinet accountable to the rank and file. To act as MY voice.

    I am tired of the Liberal Democrats being a laughing stock at my local pub.

    I think it is wrong that policy is voted by a few hundred activists at a conference I cant get to and dont have a vote in even if I get there. I have a very busy job and big family responsibilies – I just dont have time to deliver leaflets or hold fundraisers -So i dont get a nomination from the local (and in my area- cliquely) group to vote – Should that really disqualify ME from a vote on the MY Party’s policy. Surely EVERYONE can see this is wrong?

    Why is is that we can spend tens of thousands(?)on a by-election – but have such a useless website. Are we really spending the money to best effect?

    Who decided to talk up automated telephone polling to the press BEFORE we had done it? Was there a sensible press strategy (really?) or just a panic to get some lines of coverage (i fear the latter).

    Who is going to ask these questions – if not the President? (And am happy for he or she to them behind closed doors if that is the best way to do it)

    i dont believe that a candidate that is “embedded” in the system will do that. It will all be mutual pats on the backs and “arent we doing well” speeches to us. But no change.

    In short i think it is time for an arms-length President that casts a supportive BUT critical eye over what is done and is not afraid to make suggestions to improve what we do. I definately dont want someone who says “the status quo is alright”. It isnt. We can do better. We must do better.

    What I want to see from a potential President are ideas and a willingness to challenge the status quo. Endorsements from the establishment is the last thing I want – and its just a lazy way of doing things.

    You mentioned Ming Campbell. In my view the same bigwigs now supporting Ros came out in spades endorsing Ming CAmpbell to stop Chris Huhne – THEY GOT THAT WRONG- it just ended up in another election a couple of years later – Now what ? they are getting behind Ros SCott to stop Lembit Opik?. is that it? They got that wrong then. I am not listening to them now. I think it was OK for them to have a say in the leader (indeed think there is an argument that they should have the ONLY say on that election if only they could show some judgement) BUT..I think it just shows bad judgement or genuine fear on their part that they should get involved on this particular election- given the role of the job.

    Thats why I dont like endorsements for THIS election.
    Its time for an arms length President.
    Its time for change.

  • Darrell

    I think it is spectacular that Chandila Fernando is causing so much debate. Yes i think his ideas are challenging – and maybe they wont all be implemented – but if he is the catalyst for discussion – and if this election brings on lots of debate then it will have been an unqualified success whoever wins.

  • Dody Cahedron 11th Oct '08 - 5:11pm

    I am tired of the Liberal Democrats being a laughing stock at my local pub.

    And you think voting for Lembit is the answer to that?

    James Graham gives Chandila’s idea of abolishing membership a pretty thorough going over.

    And our policy-making? It’s a damn sight better than anything the other parties do. It’s a good balance betwen preventing entryism, making sure only real Lib Dems make up the party’s mind and getting real grass roots involvement.

    Very few local parties manage to get their full complement of conference reps appointed at the AGM, and then send them all to the conference, so it’s usually possible for people like you to attend as a substitute, even for a day or a weekend.

  • I greatly value endorsements as a way of measuring the strength of people I cannot know personally.

    And it works both ways. My likelihood of backing Ros Scott is increased by the endorsements of Roger Roberts and Sue Proctor. Were xxxxx xxxx (work it out for yourselves) to endorse a candidate, that would put me off!!

    If you genuinely don’t want the “establishment” candidate then find out who is being endorsed by the “establishment” and back someone else !!

  • Grammar Police 11th Oct '08 - 7:21pm

    Martin says “I have a very busy job and big family responsibilies – I just dont have time to deliver leaflets or hold fundraisers – So i dont get a nomination from the local (and in my area- cliquely) group to vote – Should that really disqualify ME from a vote on the MY Party’s policy. Surely EVERYONE can see this is wrong?”

    Well, to be honest mate, I have a busy job and family responsibilities and stuff suffers because I choose to spend some of my limited time on Liberal Democrat activities.

    It’s pretty bad if your local party doesn’t do everything within its power to get you involved. As a local party chair I’d give my eye-teeth (and frequently do) to get more people involved, to delegate the work – it makes us more effective, brings in all the talent, stops anyone being overburdened and makes it that bit more fun.

    That said, if people can’t or won’t make *some* time to get involved, in real practical terms, how do they expect to have their say on Party policy? Local parties should do as much as they can to make sure conference reps are aware of what people think about issues. Perhaps the party should do more to encourage referendum-style voting, but there are online consultations aplenty, feedback groups, official and unofficial working parties. You can always email councillors and MPs offices, with suggestions and thoughts if nothing else.

  • Martin Pool 11th Oct '08 - 7:59pm

    GRAMMER POLICE – Impressed you can carve out time for the Party ahead of other stuff. Good on you. I cant.

    And I hear what you say about emailing MPs and stuff – and when i get a chance I do. But the reason I think I SHOULD have A RIGHT to have a say on party policy is because I pay my dues and am a member. Surely ??????

    Otherwise what ARE the benefits of being a member? And any candidate that thinks that the current system of voting on policy needs, at the least, INSPECTION gets my vote.

    And by the way I did try to get the vote from my local Party. They did not even reply to my request.

    The system doesnt work.

  • I am with Martin on this one. Why are those with “power” to vote not willing to open it up to those of us who cant break through local party mafias?
    If Fernando will fight for that he has my vote

  • Dody Cahedron 11th Oct '08 - 8:28pm

    Martin: You DO have a right to have a say on party policy, even if you do not have the final say as a voting member of conference.

    All party members can speak at conference, even if they can’t vote.

    The party is currently consulting on its natural environment policy and its 5-19 education policy. One of those was on this website a few weeks ago, and both are on the party’s website. You could join a working group or visit the policy discussion forum which is currently looking at the two topics above and a number of others.

    There’s also a specific site just looking at the next manifesto.

    Party members also have the right to vote on the leader and president, and – if you turn up at the hustings – your local PPC and local government candidates. Members have the right to stand for all these positions too, provided they meet other criteria.

    And by the way I did try to get the vote from my local Party. They did not even reply to my request.

    That’s a clear failing from your local party and you need to work out why that happened. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t happen in mine, but sometimes things fall through the cracks and get neglected.

  • Mark Littlewood 11th Oct '08 - 9:22pm

    This is a really interesting debate.

    My hunch is that the party is quite “unwelcoming”.

    It’s okay for me. I’m a middle-class, straight, Oxbridge-educated, affluent, white man with an obsession for politics.

    The fact that it’s so obviously okay/natural for me probably means there’s a problem.

    This isn’t just about form-filling or unreturned emails, it’s actually systemic.

    The system suits people like me. That’s a VERY good reason to be against the present system!

  • It’s all very well to say that the party is unwelcoming or run by a local mafia. The reality is a tad more complex.

    A typical local party has around 100 members, of these 10 might be core activists who are actually willing to take on responsibility, another 10 occasional ‘activists’ who will help out, and a further 20 who might show up for a fundrasing dinner with an MP or at election time.

    No one is paid, all are volunteers, almost all have busy other lives.

    Half a dozen core activist will be Councillors, and have even more pressure on their time, the PPC if there is one will know they are going to come third or a distant second at the most.

    There is little use in arguing that this or that ought to be done to make the pary more welcoming without saying who will do it.

    In terms of policy formation, the party has a hugely open structure, it must be very rare to have a competition for voting conference reps.

    Apart from a pointless Conservative style referendum – do you support this 80 page document or reject it, the other alternative seems to a policy council elected by the membership – that would be great for people on the policy council and would provide some clarity and quicker response times, but it wouldn’t be as open as the current system.

    Perhaps we could have an answer to a straight question about how many members/supporters and much funds Liberal Vision has? So we can judge how successful their suggested membership model is.

  • Apple Blossom 12th Oct '08 - 8:36am

    The role of Party President is NOT ABOUT POLICY. Policy comes from the membership, conference, consultations, working policy groups. Have a read of LIB DEM NEWS for an idea of what the Party President should be doing. It is NOT a token honarary or passive position to say thank you very much for your hardwork.

  • Grammar Police 12th Oct '08 - 9:11am

    Martin Pool says:

    “But the reason I think I SHOULD have A RIGHT to have a say on party policy is because I pay my dues and am a member. Surely ??????

    Otherwise what ARE the benefits of being a member? And any candidate that thinks that the current system of voting on policy needs, at the least, INSPECTION gets my vote.”

    It’s certainly not right that your local party failed to respond to you – and I hope that that’s an oversight rather than deliberate [I wondered what my response to a member that wrote in and asked if they could be a conference rep would be. We actually had a similar situation last year, when a new-ish member enquired about it. I ensured that this chap had the nomination papers, and that he should come to the AGM, but also chatted to him about the role and what it entailed.]

    Your post also made me think of the “benefits” of being a member. It never really occurred to me that there were or should be any benefits – I joined because I broadly agreed with the Party’s direction and because I wanted to support them in that. I suppose the benefits of membership are a say in the party’s direction: a member gets to vote for leader, certain other national party positions, to speak at conference, to stand to be a candidate for the party, to stand for local or national office (including as a conference rep), to vote for local party organisation (including conference reps), to take part in various consultations.

    All of these things take time, however, and for those of us who don’t have much time, it is very frustrating.

    Martin, what change do you think should be made to improve membership? That any member should be able to vote at conference?

  • Martin Pool 12th Oct '08 - 3:09pm

    Grammar Police.
    I really wished I lived in your neck of the woods – sounds like I would have had a much better experience.

    The short answer is YES I think it would be make me much more likely to carve out the time to go to conference if i did not feel like a second class cistizen when i got there.

    I dont see any logic in saying I have sufficient wits to vote on who the Leader of the party should be (pretty damn important) – but I somehow incapable of understanding and voting on whether we should change our policy on tax or tuition fees.

    I also question whether i should really have to go to conference to vote. Elsewhere i can pass my vote by mailing -and indeed for one of the charities i support i can opt only to receive information (and vote) by email (which is convenient for me but must also cut the costs massively for the charity).

    On a wider point I think EVERY organisation should consider what the member benefits are. I am a member of a couple of charities – I am a member bcause i support their causes – but i do also get tangible benefits from being a member as well that include (according to the charity) a house magazine, a vote on a range of issues at their AGM, discounted tickets to events, free admission to others …i could go on.

    I suspect the people like those in my local party will see this as a diminunition of their power. But i think there would be much wider engagement and MORE members if we had a fairer system.
    I also really like the idea of having supporters database as well. My partner would definately be a supporter – as would some of my family and friends i am sure. And I would happily invite them to be supporters if such a thing existed I just dont see the point of ALL of us being members.

    One final thought – why not incentivise members to get their friends and family to become supporters. That would massively increase the mailing database, Then it would be up to whoever is in charge to convert supporters to members by explaining the benefits of doing so?

  • Grammar Police 12th Oct '08 - 3:44pm

    Martin,
    I think there’s a lot of strength in the argument that if you can be trusted to vote for leader you can be trusted to vote on policy at conference – and that specific elected “representatives” are unnecessary. As Mark says, a lot of this is down to the histories of the predecessor parties.

    I suppose the arguments against it are it would favour those members who have the good fortune to live near the conference locations, and those who have the time and money to attend. Conference representatives are at least de jure accountable to their local parties (in that you don’t need to vote for them next time) but then again there is nothing wrong with encouraging people to turn up for a particular vote if that’s what they’re interested in. I’m a conference rep for my local party and I’m by no means interested in everything that was debated at the recent conference.

    You would also work to reduce some of the disadvantages by making more of online consultations, perhaps video-streaming and voting – so people can listen/read the debate in real time and vote appropriately and easily. You could also perhaps devolve more to regional conferences, so the debates and votes could take place around the country, and then the results added up across the country.

    As for supporters’ lists, locally we have compiled one in the last two years, and although we’ve concentrated on only two wards, we now have more supporters in those two wards than we have members across the entire constituency. If people agree to deliver or display a poster at election time, we automatically add them to the supporters’ list and they then get our regular newsletter and invitation to events etc.

  • Martin Pool 12th Oct '08 - 4:00pm

    Mark Valladares

    TO MArk Valladares.

    Wow No wonder Lib Dems membership is falling. Not even sure I would have joined if i had realised it was this complex.

    Federal Policy committees, Regional policy committees …and after all that they come up with a policy that is so complex to communicate only those who have proved to their local party that they are across all the detail get to vote on it?

    Is this how we ended up with a tax policy a couple of years ago that NO ONE could explain without getting into knots, let alone understand? A nurse and a doctor would be worse off , a nurse and a fireman would be better off (or was it the other way round?)……

    Jeez.

    I have now looked at the Presidential election sites of all three candidates. I think Chandila Fernando has the best ideas on this. So he gets my first vote. But i think he doesnt stand a chance of winning. So my 2nd preference is what really matters I suppose. I guess that should be Ros Scott but i really really dont like all those endorsements from the big-wigs. I stand by wanting an arms-length president – and there is no way she can be that…so that leaves Lembit – but he has not really said anything on this – at least not yet. So will watch and wait.

  • Martin Pool 12th Oct '08 - 4:17pm

    Grammar Police

    I re-iterate that i wished i lived in your area.

    You said…”I think there’s a lot of strength in the argument that if you can be trusted to vote for leader you can be trusted to vote on policy at conference – and that specific selected “representatives” are unnecessary. As Mark says, a lot of this is down to the histories of the predecessor parties.”

    My answer is well then its surely about time we brought it up to date? Your points about “making more of online consultations, perhaps video-streaming and voting” are where i am definately at.

    Secondly the rest of your email seems to highlight the fact that SOME local parties are doing a monumentally better job than the national one. So i hope the President can “kick-ass” and drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

    Thanks for making me feel better about being a member as well.

  • David Allen 12th Oct '08 - 4:31pm

    The argument for the SDP-type approach has always been that the members elect the leader. This gives them a great deal of power. It also allows a leadership candidate to put forward a clear policy direction, and gain the endorsement of the party.

    Ironically, the parties who have made this work best for them are the parties who adopted one-man-one-vote (or a diluted version thereof) later than we did. Cameron’s leadership, whatever you think of it, would surely have run into trouble within his own party if he had been selected by the old-style “men in suits in smoke-filled rooms”. He gained legitimacy by making it clear that he stood for a new approach, and winning endorsement for that approach in the leadership election.

    The system breaks down when a leadership candidate fights a dishonest or misleading campaign which fails to reveal a new leader in their true colours. In the SDP, David Owen defeated Roy Jenkins in 1983 by claiming to be the more “radical” and even “socialist” candidate. Once elected, he adopted policies that were in no way either radical or socialist, with the deliberate aim of engineering a split with the Liberals. We all suffered very badly from Owen’s hidden agenda.

    A year into Nick Clegg’s leadership, it now seems that our strongest policy line is to cut taxes. As best I recall, this subject was hardly mentioned during the leadership campaign. A retrospective “endorsement” at Conference cannot compensate for the lack of a proper choice in the first place.

    I don’t believe that wild schemes to abolish membership are any sort of answer to this problem. I do think our new President should warn of the dangers that can arise when leadership is not sufficiently consultative, and when a Party is deliberately divided against itself, in much the same way as Owen split the Alliance, all those years ago.

  • Mr Bleeding Obvious 12th Oct '08 - 4:31pm

    Very interesting debate.

    It seems very clear to me that Mouse and Dody Cahedron are never going to be convinced that any change is necessary.

    The rest of us can clearly see that it does. Lets hope sanity prevails.

  • Apple Blossom 12th Oct '08 - 11:20pm

    I too have looked at Chandila Fernando’s website. i have to confess it looks amazing and the agenda he puts forward is exciting and very forward thinking. I was leaning towards Lembit, because the other two are unknown but I may change my mind.

  • Clegg's Candid Friend 12th Oct '08 - 11:39pm

    “A year into Nick Clegg’s leadership, it now seems that our strongest policy line is to cut taxes. As best I recall, this subject was hardly mentioned during the leadership campaign.”

    Was it mentioned at all, in fact?

  • David Allen – the “Green Tax Switch” was a feature of Ming’s policy suite, and contained the pledge to cut income tax, so to state that tax cuts were hardly mentioned during the leadership campaign is somewhat disingenuous, given it was already an adopted policy.

  • Mike Falchikov 12th Oct '08 - 11:54pm

    I do have some sympathy with Martin
    Pool and his feeling of being somehow
    unable to get “inside” the party (I sometimes feel the same myself, despite
    almost 50 years as a member)
    BUT, Martin, you say you don’t have time to
    e.g. deliver leaflets, but you could have
    certainly shifted a good few in the time you’ve just spent airing your concerns!

  • David Allen wrote:

    “In the SDP, David Owen defeated Roy Jenkins in 1983 by claiming to be the more “radical” and even “socialist” candidate.”

    David Owen never defeated Roy Jenkins. When both men contested the leadership in 1982, Jenkins won. In 1983, Owen was the only candidate.

    It is perfectly correct to point out, of course, that Owen presented himself as a “radical” but ended up praising Mrs Thatcher and calling for the return of the Press Gang.

  • >It seems very clear to me that Mouse and Dody Cahedron are never going to be convinced that any change is necessary.

    Really ? I’m very much is favour of change, I’m also in favour of realism.

    I happy for the party to rebrand, I wouldn’t even object to a change of name, and of course I would like the party to communicate clear messages and reach out to people who aren’t members.

    To coin a phrase – it’s bleeding obvious.
    None of these are even vaguely new ideas and all have the devil in the detail.

    More than 20 years ago we had effectively supporter instead of memebers schemes with people signed up for £1, which they didn’t actually pay themselves.

    Far from being partisan, I haven’t even decided who to vote for.

  • Kevin Williams 13th Oct '08 - 2:17pm

    I agree too many committees – perhaps the reason nothing actually gets done in the Liberal Democrats. Communicating clear messages is bleeding obvious but take a look at the new lib dem website – is it cluttered with lots of different messages. Who advises the lib dems on websites? That person should be shot first. Not very liberal but hey to make some headway here some people will have to smarten up or move on.

  • David Allen 13th Oct '08 - 6:43pm

    Tabman, I was and am delighted to support the Green Tax Switch policy, which was explicitly revenue-neutral. That is totally different from a net tax cut!

  • Mike Falchikov Says:
    12th October 2008 at 11:54 pm
    I do have some sympathy with Martin Pool and his feeling of being somehow unable to get “inside” the party (I sometimes feel the same myself, despite
    almost 50 years as a member)
    BUT, Martin, you say you don’t have time to e.g. deliver leaflets, but you could have certainly shifted a good few in the time you’ve just spent airing your concerns!

    Fair point Mike but 1. I was housebound and 2. Even if i wasnt I think leaflets are probably the most ludicrous method of communication imaginable in the 21st century.

    In light of 1 and 2. Airing my concerns here and hope someone who matters listens.

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