+++Update on the Leadership Election

Last month, the Federal Board decided to postpone the party leadership election, due to kick off in May, until May 2021, so that the party can focus on dealing with the coronavirus crisis instead.

Following this decision, an appeal against it was made to the Federal Appeals Panel (our internal Liberal Democrat equivalent of the Supreme Court). The Appeals Panel has agreed that the Federal Board can suspend the leadership election while exceptional circumstances exist, but not delay to a fixed date next year. It has asked the Board to keep the timetable for the leadership election under review, as circumstances continue to develop.

You can read the ruling in here.

The Board will, therefore, do so, and will listen carefully to the views of party members. You can let me have your views directly on [email protected] or book a video call with me at libdempresident.youcanbook.me.

* Mark Pack is Party President and is the editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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This entry was posted in Party policy and internal matters.


  • This is a very welcome ruling. Great shame that an appeal was even necessary. I am afraid it seems the Federal Board exceeded its powers and I hope lessons have been learnt. Keeping all options open to allow – if possible – an earlier election is absolutely right. Finally, can voting decisions by the Federal Board please be published? Surely that is only democratic and
    providing basic accountability to party members.

  • Julian Tisi 16th Apr '20 - 9:52am

    This is good news. Some thoughts:

    1. A lengthy delay is unlikely to help us; we’re unlikely to get new members flocking to the party to elect a new leader: with Labour there was an opportunity to change the direction of the party which helped them; unlikely to be the same with us.
    2. A lengthy delay doesn’t help us define ourselves in the voters’ minds. The leader is – rightly or wrongly – the face of the party and to a great extent presents who we are. An interim leader – no matter how good or bad – doesn’t do that.
    3. People have forgotten about Brexit but this will come to the fore once again once we come to the end of the transitional arrangements (which the Govt is insisting will be on 31 Dec 2020). If things don’t go well, it would be good to have a permanent leader in place – one who will fight the next GE – to help us capitalise.
    4. Clearly we need time to arrange nominations to be open, pitches/debates to be had and then a vote. How much of this must be done in face-to-face meetings? Not sure any of it needs to be?

    All in all, I think we need to try as hard as we can to elect a leader this year, ideally IMO Autumn-ish.

  • Good, lets hope we can get this done during the autumn.
    The fact that in person hustings can’t happen shouldn’t be a deterant as they are unlikely to impact on the turnout in these elections (which is 60% at best).
    We still have email, post and phone.

  • Laurence Cox 16th Apr '20 - 11:47am

    I think that it is time that we thought about online hustings. We just need people to submit their questions in advance and the hustings themselves could be done by Zoom conferencing with the recording put on to the Party’s YouTube channel.

    There is no excuse not to have a Party leader in place before the Autumn.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Apr '20 - 2:27pm

    Is it really essential, that an appeal be held, and a board, criticised, for a postponement of a completely pointless election for a leader we already have, so doing, in a crisis we are all going through, in a country trying to deal with this!

    We might as well get it over with, the election, and satisfy those who seem to think, out with Mark or Ed, in with favoured candidate, shall beat Johnson freshly revived, Starmer newly installed, delivering the much needed new dawn.

    Back in the real world many of us prefer to rally together with our current team and communities, involved in greater efforts!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Andrew Tampion 17th Apr '20 - 3:21pm

    Lorenzo. It is absolutely essential to have an election as soon as it can be safely carried out. We don’t have a leader we have 2 acting joint leaders neither of whom have any democratic mandate to lead the party in any particular direction.

  • Robert (Somerset) 17th Apr '20 - 9:05pm

    If we can’t be seen to be able to organise an internal leadership election we are not going to convince anyone that we have got any good ideas on how to run the country.

  • Colin Bloodworth 19th Apr '20 - 10:03am

    It is vital to elect a new leader as soon as possible, irrespective of current challenges. In fact even more so in view of those challenges as a strong voice is needed to help the party and the UK navigate the difficult months ahead, not just with regard to the mismanaged COVID-19 crisis but also the Brexit negotiations.

    A quick glance at the chaotic state of politics in the US, with multiple departments headed by acting leaders and with many vacant ambassador posts worldwide,
    shows us the consequences of leaving important leadership positions unoccupied.

    An acting or joint leader does not carry the weight and status of an elected leader.

    Colin Bloodworth
    (Lib Dems Overseas – Indonesia)

  • james thellusson: Labour has started its leadership election long before the present Coronavirus crisis. By the time the lockdown started, the election was already near the end and reportedly most votes had already been cast. It therefore made most sense simply to run the contest to completion. Starting a fresh one would be a whole different issue. As for NHS workers, this is a totally irrelevant comparison, as they make the difference between life and death, something that cannot be said for any internal party election. You may have a point about organisations running AGMs and the like, and there may be ways of running a leadership election in the present circumstances, but bear in mind that it’s not just about hustings but also about administration. much of which would have to be done from home.

    I honestly don’t think it’s going to make much difference to our credibility whether or not we hold a leadership election now. The media pay no attention to us anyway, and they wouldn’t even if we did announce a new leader. It doesn’t seem even to have helped Labour: polling evidence (such as it is) since Keir Starmer was elected Labour leader do not indicate the expected bounce in Labour’s poll ratings.

  • Nonconformistradical 19th Apr '20 - 3:11pm

    “there may be ways of running a leadership election in the present circumstances, but bear in mind that it’s not just about hustings but also about administration. much of which would have to be done from home.”

    Not only that but our MPs should in the present crisis be focussed on the needs of their local communities and on holding the government to account – not on campaigning against each other in a party leadership election.

  • Is there an easy to navigate source of (1) previous rulings by the FAP and (2) the procedural rules they have adopted. Previous rullings are published to conference so are public domain but that requires going through all previous conference reports. There isn’t AFAICS a complete set of the procedural ruleas adopted by FAP – there is a version published and agreed by conference in 2016 – which was then amended in 2017 but not republished in full.

    I do think – given the significance of this ruling and the fact there will be no Federal conference for nearly a year afterwards for, as Alan says “published and presented to Conference for approval and ratification.” that this should be remitted to the full Federal Appeals panel.

  • neil sandison 6th May '20 - 6:28am

    What the acting leadership is not taking into account is the boredom factor which the recent election of the Labour leader suffered in the flagging end of their campaign .They managed to lose the publics interest in a prolonged campaign and their debates became internal wrangles of little merit to the country . We seem to be falling into the same trap .
    A on-line campaign backed up by our normal internal election processes of postal and electronic voting will get a satisfactory outcome and have a leader in place for the Autumn conference be it at a gathering or a virtual event .come on we can do this stop finding excuses for a lack of action and leadership.

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