Linda Jack writes… Why I am standing for Party President

linda-jack-6I believe passionately in our party and in spreading a progressive liberal message, so when I recently received a call to be part of a Newsnight panel discussing welfare policy, it was an opportunity to make the most of.  What surprised me was the level of support and number of approaches I then received from fellow Lib Dems up and down the country, asking whether I would consider standing for Party President.

As our party faces many new challenges, the role of Party President has never been more critical. It is essential that our leadership, HQ, members and supporters are all better connected. Our strength nationally is fundamentally dependent on our strength locally in communities across the nations and regions of the UK. I believe sincerely in rebuilding the trust and confidence of our members and supporters in order to deliver the positive vision we hold for society. I believe we CAN reconnect with those who supported us in the past, renew our collective vision for the future and ensure mutual respect between leadership and membership.

Everyone I have spoken to believes the party needs someone who is independent, is prepared to be the voice of the membership to the leadership and who can effectively represent the party to the public. Someone unafraid to challenge, but who also understands the importance of listening carefully to those they seek to represent, able to work constructively with people and groups with differing views, helping them to secure consensus in the common interest of the organisation, something vital for the future of our party. I pride myself on being all of the above.

I see the challenge for our next President as being to optimise how we use the skills, experience, and knowledge of the entirety of our party’s membership. From the longest standing members, to the most recent of youth and student activists. Unity comes from having a shared vision, and my vision is about restoring and renewing our party in order to meet the huge social challenges of the 21st Century. It is vital that we reconnect with our shared mission, so beautifully expressed in the preamble to our constitution. We must reinvigorate those who feel battered and bruised, welcome back those who have sadly left us, but who know in their hearts that ours is their true spiritual home.

I have devoted my adult life to pursuing our liberal aims, personally and politically, now I ask you to trust me to pursue those aims with you, on your behalf, but more importantly, on behalf of all those many people up and down the country who are relying on us to confound our gainsayers and continue to be a potent political force speaking up for their welfare, liberty and well being.

As Party President I will put our members and our values first.  So please visit my website www.backjack.org.uk to find out more about the campaign and to join us in restoring and renewing the party.

* Linda Jack is a former youth worker and member of the party's Federal Policy Committee.

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53 Comments

  • Andrew Emmerson 5th Aug '14 - 5:52pm

    I wonder how comparing the coalition government to nazis and genocidal regimes squares with your desire to represent the party in a very media focused role?

  • James Moore 5th Aug '14 - 6:20pm

    Being a member who hasn’t been in the Party long enough to have had the chance to vote for our President before, I have a genuine question: How will you reconcile your position as Chair of Liberal Left with your desire to represent the entire membership?

  • I am backing Linda for President, although currently I do not have a vote. Like her, I am fed up of the parliamentary party apparently forgetting who got them there in the first place. When we forget our local action, we forget our roots. Linda has never done that. I really hope that she gets elected.

  • Rabi Martins 5th Aug '14 - 8:24pm

    For me it is Linda’s preparedness to challenge the leadership and also accept that ours is a democratic federal Party in which policy is made by delegates at conference is reason enough to hope she wins through.
    I am backing Linda solely because we need a Party President who will ensure our processes for turning grass roots aspirations into deliverables that work for the Party and the Country – and she is it

  • Stephen Donnelly 5th Aug '14 - 8:47pm

    Linda : What should we be saying about the NHS ?

  • Stephen Kearney 5th Aug '14 - 9:53pm

    I am delighted that Linda Jack is standing to be President of our party.
    She is completely tuned into the realities of life – life at the grassroots. She will attract people to become members and she will motivate people to collective action. She gets community politics and that’s our future in my opinion.
    In her role as the Chair of Liberal left I was delighted that she did not call for Nick’s resignation or create any instability, during our recent challenging times. What she did do was ask challenging questions , which Nick, I think and trust would welcome. Any leader that can’t take tough questions of opposition is in the wrong job!
    I look forward to considering the other candidates, but from where I stand Linda Jack presents the challenge we all need and in my view presents as a very able and experienced candidate.
    Crucially she will be beyond the whip and whether we like it not the country is screaming for a modicum of independence from political party control. We may need to retrench and build a party of opposition. Jack will be in her element.

    We are one party and our history dictates that we will represent a broad spectrum of politic views – and thank goodness for that.

    SO – Right? left? NO Forward – together – strategically in harmony.

  • I don’t understand how a party that is in coalition government with the conservatives and voted to implement some of the harshest welfare cuts in the UK welfare state’s history can have a president from the Liberal Left?

    Just who are the Lib Dems, what do they stand for. Welfare cuts and tax cuts for the welfare and other conservative policies? Or social democracy? You get a different answer each time you ask the question. No wonder things came apart for the party of localism the moment they got into national government.

  • paul barker 5th Aug '14 - 11:07pm

    To her credit Linda Jack was one of the the very few to oppose Coalition from the start. My problem is that I cant see her as a unifying figure when she has consistently opposed the course The Party has taken over the last 4 years. All the evidence suggests that most of us still feel we did the right thing in forming The Coalition, having a President who thought we were wrong would not promote unity & reconciliation.

  • Joshua Dixon 5th Aug '14 - 11:16pm

    Paul, the President is not there to be a cheerleader for the coalition. The President needs to be a cheerleader for the party. What we have lacked over the last few years has been distinctive voices at the top of the party that have effectively managed to communicate a message that differentiates the party and its actions in government.

  • Paul Reynolds 6th Aug '14 - 4:12am

    Having listened carefully to the ‘platforms’ of the three (all very good) potential candidates for party president, it seems to me that Linda has the most substance and the clearest analysis of the problems of the Party that can be addressed within the role of president. It seems to me that Linda in not suggesting that all of the problems of the party stem from membership relations or internal structures & organization, but that reforms in these areas are a necessary component of party revival. Good. I don’t see Linda’s policy position on the left of the party as an obstacle to her effectiveness as president. All have their policy views and the president is not responsible for policy. However the president does have a role in the system through which policy is developed and Linda’s proposed reforms should be welcomed by all. I will await further statements from the other potential candidates, but at present Linda is a long way ahead in her reform program and sensible analyses. I am assured by Linda:s recognition of the dual roles or president – a media voice of the party and a conduit for members’ views to the leadership and other governing institutions of the party. Linda looks the better potential candidate at present.

  • stuart moran 6th Aug '14 - 7:42am

    Morning all

    I have no opinion on whether Linda Jack should be Party President as this is a membership decision and I am not a member.

    It is good to see though, from an outside perspective, adifferent strands of political thought being represented in the debate and I look forward to seeing who is chosen – good luck to all candidates

  • Simon McGrath 6th Aug '14 - 8:21am

    Linda, if you are elected you will be President during and after a General election campaign. Two questions on that :
    a) You have always been opposed to the Coalition and to the Coalition economic policy. In 2012 for example you said that “we must not neglect the elephant in the room, namely the disastrous Tory-led approach to the economy.” Given that during the election campaign we will be talking about the successes of the Coalition and now that it is clear that the economic policy is working what will you say to journalists who ask you about the contradiction between your views on the Coalition and the platform on which we are fighting the election ?
    b) It is possible we will be negotiating another coalition or some other type of post election arrangement after may 2015. The President has a very important role in representing party members in that process. Given that you are Chair of Liberal Left whose policy is we should only do deals with Labour how will you approach any negotiations impartially ?

  • Jenny Barnes 6th Aug '14 - 9:34am

    ” now that it is clear that the economic policy is working”
    Actually, it’s now clear that the economic policy did nothing but delay the recovery by several years. See
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/britain-has-taken-longer-to-recover-from-recession-than-at-any-time-since-the-south-sea-bubble-9645218.html
    The coalition economic policies killed the recovery that was in progress in 2010. I don’t think that’s anything to be proud of.

  • I’m not a member of the party so I don’t particularly want to get involved in discussions about your party president but I would ask those questioning how someone from the left can represent everyone in the party how they think a defender of the party’s role in the coalition can possibly unite the party given the number of members and ex-members that might come back that think otherwise?

    I am from one wing of the party and we can create unity
    He/She represents another wing of the party and cannot create unity

    Surely that paradox informs us that it is the individual making the comment that is not interested in unity?

  • Stephen Howse 6th Aug '14 - 11:51am

    “Like James Moore, I cannot understand how the chair of Liberal Left can be the unifying figure the party needs.”

    Me neither.

    Whoever follows Tim in the job has a hard act to follow – his energy, enthusiasm and ability to get people pumped up and keen to campaign will be hugely missed. That’s what we need in this role, and having a President so potentially polarising and provocative would be a huge turn off to a chunk of our campaigning base. I don’t doubt Linda’s commitment and desire, but her politics and her approach are not the right fit for the job.

  • Joshua Dixon 6th Aug '14 - 12:59pm

    Simon, do you really think the electorate want to see a President giving the party a pat on the back for the slowest economic recovery in over 300 years?

  • Paul Westlake 6th Aug '14 - 1:25pm

    Linda was a Euro candidate in the East of England but took very little part in the campaign. If elected as President would she do the job properly – or just use use it as a platform for her Clegg-bashing agenda?

  • Paul Westlake 6th Aug '14 - 1:44pm

    I should add that I was campaigns chair in the East and sanity-checked my opinion with another campaign team member before posting what I consider to be a fair comment.

  • Ruth Bright 6th Aug '14 - 3:15pm

    I spent a bit of time with Linda at Spring Conference in York and I was struck by what a remarkable range of friends she has in all parts of the party. Her performance on Newsnight was feisty, fun and well-informed with an appeal to real people not just political junkies like us lot on LDV!

  • Rabi Martins 6th Aug '14 - 4:34pm

    @ Paul Westlake – Paul to use the European Election camapign as a measure of how much work Linda would do is totally out of order Our Euro Campaign in the East of England was to say the least rather lack lustre Even our number one canddate Andrew Duff did not put in as much effort as he did in previous campaigns Linda was fairly low down the list and did as much as the other canddates lower down the list in East of England
    On the othe point you make in passing, I very much doubt Linda took any joy in what you call “Clegg bashing” What I heard in her conference speeches was the passion of someone who was concerned that the Party was selling itself down the river. Now you may disagree with that view but I know very many Party members who said the very same thing in private but shied away from putting their heards above the perepet for fear of damaging their propsects within the Party. Linda put her principles and her ambition for the Party ahead of her her personal interests. She openly challenged the Party Leader knowing it was likely to hurt her standing with the leadership That for me is what makes Linda the right person for the role of Party President at this particular time as far as I am concerned

  • Jenny Barnes 6th Aug '14 - 4:44pm

    “The UK is not immune to the same economic forces that destroyed the Greek economy”
    Yes it is. Thanks to Gordon Brown (and contrary to LD policy at the time) we are not using the Euro. Our debt is denominated in our own currency. An alternative economic programme , say massive housebuilding, would likely have seen a much quicker recovery. By contrast, the coalition “help to bubble” scheme is a quick fix that will likely implode after the election.

  • Simon McGrath 6th Aug '14 - 4:55pm

    @Rabi – you mean ‘Linda didn’t do much but neither did any of the other Euro candidates”.
    Its not exactly a ringing endorsement is it.? Shouldn’t someone who wants to be President have been showing some leadership /setting an example ?

  • Ruth Bright 6th Aug '14 - 6:47pm

    Paul Westlake – I am very wary of folk who give out campaigning “white feathers”. We all have lives and families and the party cannot always take precedence in all circumstances. All I know is that Linda did loads of phone canvassing in May in a valiant attempt to try to save our bacon in at least one ward in Southwark.

  • Paul

    “Having listened carefully to the ‘platforms’ of the three (all very good) potential candidates”

    Who are the three? I have only seen one other.

  • Up front, I’m supporting Linda, because she has the honesty and fighting spirit that I think our party needs to face the challenges of the coming year.

    I met her last year at the ALDE conference , which we hosted in London’s Dockland. She impressed me with what she knew, who she knew, and her willingness to stand up for what she believed in. I don’t agree with her on absolutely everything, but that’s the great thing about her, she’s willing to work with anyone who shares a Liberal view, of whatever perspective.

    I think she will make a great, and inspiring President, and help keep us fast to our liberal principles in the tough times ahead.

  • I shall be backing Linda. We need a President who is independent of the leadership. I fully support the coalition and Nick, but we may need to do a lot of rebuilding after the election. Linda would play a big part in this. I am a party member, my number is 1—— [blanked out to avoid impersonation – Ed.]

  • I think Linda will be a cat amongst the pigeons, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing but I’m fed up with the pigeons.

    I agree with Lester, the party needs to recruit from a broader base, many of our ills have been because of the monoculture we’ve distilled in our representatives. I’d like to know how Linda hopes to recruit more women, BAME and working class candidates, members and voters, because without that we’re stuck with a bunch of people that all seem to think the same.

    I don’t know what to think regarding her putting her mobile number online and inviting anyone to give it a call. Maybe I’ll try that in a minute, see how we get on!

  • David Evans 7th Aug '14 - 3:37pm

    @ Paul Westlake. Is Linda bashing Clegg or Clegg bashing the party to pieces? If it is the second, someone who defends the party is someone to be treasured.

  • As a full-blooded Clegg and coalition supporter, I am supporting Linda for the presidency. I feel she will help re-set our liberal/Liberal compasses after we have lost our bearings a little bit, through the pressures of coalition. Linda is a fearless and articulate defender of Liberalism. Importantly she has a wide hinterland of experience and knowledge of a wide range of areas. She is a polite, affable and funny defender of our core values.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 7th Aug '14 - 11:02pm

    I’m not taking sides in this debate, for reasons those who know me will probably understand. But, whilst not endorsing Linda, her strategy or her campaign, I am glad that she is willing to make a public statement as to her intentions and to engage with possible voters – something I would encourage any candidate to do.

    But I would also encourage to get involved with their chosen candidate’s campaign, so that ordinary members, especially less active ones, might be enthused too.

  • “As a full-blooded Clegg and coalition supporter …”

    Perhaps one could almost say a born-again Clegg supporter…

    After all, I’m sure there’s more rejoicing in Clegg’s office over one dissident who repents.

  • Ed Maxfield 8th Aug '14 - 10:57am

    I express no preference in the election itself but the cut and paste comments here from Linda’s supporters are quite comical. Reminds me of the passage in John O Farrell’s book where he has been fed a question for a radio phone in by Labour HQ only to hear it asked by the person before him so he simply repeats it word for word. 🙂

    Ed

  • I’ll vote for which one the candidates is most willing to reform our party structures so grassroots have even more say in policy decisions and the views of the party can’t be sidestepped by the leadership in future.

    In particular, we need new methods to deal with ‘on the hoof’ policy making and horsetrading policy making done in coalition. Tuition fees is a perfect example of this, the grassroots knew it was a terrible idea but had no way to stop it. Our policy making systems are based around endless opposition and not democratically fit for purpose once we get to the reality of implementing policy in coalition government.

    We also desperately need to reform our voting systems internally to reflect the way our modern party operates, more internet based voting, OMOV for committee positions and reform of the local party systems that have been in place since the 1980’s.

    I’d vote for whoever will tackle these issues, regardless of their political leanings.

  • Stephen Hesketh 8th Aug '14 - 2:11pm

    Gareth Wilson 8th Aug ’14 – 1:33pm

    Excellent points Gareth. Long term democracy and grass roots involvement are worth much more than the (essentially short term) political position of any individual candidate.

    One of the issues for modern politics is that politically active people are increasingly less happy about being used as simple foot soldiers only to be dropped immediately an election is won.

  • Rabi Martins 8th Aug '14 - 5:00pm

    I fully endorse Mark V’s call > “But I would also encourage to get involved with their chosen candidate’s campaign, so that ordinary members, especially less active ones, might be enthused too.”

    I am collating names of members volunteeriing to support Linda Jack’s Campaign
    Visit http://www.backjack.org.uk and sign up or post your questions to Linda

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Aug '14 - 5:22pm

    Whilst I respect Linda, I think it would send a confusing message to potential voters (such as me) if a thorough leftist was elected President of the Lib Dems. I don’t agree in the unifying argument, I think it would be divisive.

    Regards

  • Richard Dean 8th Aug '14 - 6:25pm

    I think a leftist president would be a great way to restore balance to the party. Such a president might even inspire me to re-join.

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Aug '14 - 6:46pm

    Richard, there is no point in having wildly different ideologies in senior positions in the party. A party will struggle to govern if its senior members can’t even come to a broad consensus on how they want to govern.

    I don’t have anything left to say on this.

    Regards

  • Rabi Martins 8th Aug '14 - 7:11pm

    @ Eddie Sammon – Just answer me this – Are you saying the Party has moved so far to the right that only a right wing establishment figure should take on the role of Party President and ensure it continues moving to the right ?
    Just asking !

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Aug '14 - 7:39pm

    Hi Rabi Martins, no, I don’t think Clegg is on the right. I’d prefer someone who wasn’t an economic or a social liberal, but I’ve seen Linda Jack on television a few times criticising the party’s record.

    Regards

  • Stephen Hesketh 8th Aug '14 - 7:45pm

    @Eddie Sammon 8th Aug ’14 – 5:22pm
    “… I think it would send a confusing message to potential voters (such as me) if a thorough leftist was elected President of the Lib Dems. I don’t agree in the unifying argument, I think it would be divisive. ”

    I see where you are coming from Eddie. ‘Rightists’ should stick to rightist parties – of which there are several. They have no place seeking the presidency of a non-socialist radical egalitarian Liberal Democratic party of the (centre) left.

    We have not lost support through being distinctly Liberal or even ‘leftist’ but by being seen to be too supportive of Conservative elements of coalition government policy. Only following four years of being closely associated with and vocally supportive of Tory inspired policy has NC remembered that he is deputy PM due to him being leader of the Liberal Democrats. Sad for him but even sadder for our party, our democratically agreed party policies and our 2010 voters.

  • Stephen Hesketh 8th Aug '14 - 7:52pm

    @Eddie Sammon 8th Aug ’14 – 7:39pm
    “… I’d prefer someone who wasn’t an economic or a social liberal”

    Is this the start of your own campaign Eddie? 🙂

  • I have no strong opinions on who should be Party President, but I wish those that do would say forthrightly “I support Linda Jack because I agree with her stances and think she would be a good, effective leader” or “I oppose her because I don’t agree with her politics” or “I think she’s inexperienced and unpersuasive and would be a poor leader.” I don’t see the point of saying things like “I oppose her because I don’t see her as a unifying figure”; this is not much more than hiding behind the supposed opinions of others. Don’t tell me what you think other people think (or what you want me to think other people think); either you like her (or another candidate) or you don’t and you shouldn’t be afraid to say so for yourself. The argument should be about your opinions of the politics and talents of the candidates, not how they happen to be perceived by one or another group of members.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Aug '14 - 1:45am

    Lol! Stephen, yes, perhaps it is the start of my 2020 campaign! I agree ideally we would have a different party for every major ideology, but the main reason for my comment was not being fussy, but because Linda has struck me as a standard bearer for activists who hate the coalition, rather than what I see as typical centre-left team-players (most of the time).

    Regards

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