Why there will be no Kemp4Prez stickers at Conference

A reasonable number of people will know that before Christmas I was asking them about whether or not I should stand for the Party Presidency when it comes up for election later. A smaller number know that as a result of those discussions I have decided after Christmas that I will indeed be a candidate.

However, whilst I am not keeping it a secret, I am not yet starting a proper campaign. I am not acting this way because of indolence. In my 52 years in the Party I have never left an election to chance or thought that I would breeze in. The reason I am not doing anything yet is because I believe that there are three things even more important than filling this important post.

The first and most obvious one is that we either have to resolve not to leave Europe or work out how to deal with the consequences of having left. Of course, this all might have changed in the interval between you reading this and me writing it! Brexit will cast a long shadow over both our Country and politicians because of he way that it has been handled. Well done our First 11 for the splendid way they have thought and acted and our second 100 in the Lords have acted superlatively well but we will all have much to do in the coming few weeks and months whatever happens.

Secondly, we have the English local elections coming up on 2nd May and nothing but nothing should distract us from maximising our vote and maximising our number of councillors. This should be a national election and I would appeal to Scottish, Welsh and London colleagues to support campaigning near to you as you have no elections yourselves. Nothing will put us in a better position in the media than more councillors. Nothing will enhance our position with the “Independent Group” than us having even more bottoms on seats in Council Chambers.

Lastly what about those Tiggers. I’ve been through all this in the 80’s with the SDP and what we do in the next few weeks will need to be carefully handled. I have welcomed the formation of the TIG and have suggested that in Liverpool, we should step aside for Luciana Berger BUT they have not done well so far. They launched at the wrong time with insufficient preparation and are making little impact.

So why would I want to become Party President when I have never been a back-room boy before? Yes, I have been around the national scene for a long time having served on the FPC and still sit on the FPC for local government issues. I have been around Westminster politics for 22 years since I first took a leading role in the national body for local government. I was, of course, the Leader of the Lib Dem Councillors in England for 8 years which took me all over the UK and even further afield.

I don’t think that the Party President should be a back-room boy or girl. With only 11 MPs  the Party President needs to be highly visible and I would pay tribute to the way that our Current President Sal Brinton has achieved that visibility despite tremendous challenges and difficult times.

There are three principal reasons:

  1. I am angry that our Party is not as angry about the state of our Country as I believe we should be and not aggressive enough in promoting the policies which could cure those ills. Our policies are hugely radical. An education policy which puts learning before examinations; a health policy which puts prevention before cure; a housing policy which talks about homes and communities not buildings and estates; a drugs policy which talks about cures not retribution. Above all a policy of devolution which would rescue us from the metropolitan elites in Westminster and Whitehall.
  1. I believe that our Party needs to be delivered from our own metropolitan elite. Just look at the mess the Party has made about supporters etc. A reasonable idea was cooked up, no doubt in a wine bar in Islington; poorly thought through and disgracefully executed by the Federal Board and Party HQ. How can we have a website that first asks people if they want to be a supporter, even if we haven’t worked out what that means, before asking them if they want to be a member which we all understand?
  1. I believe that our Party will only become strong again on the backs of councillors. Both locally and nationally I have seen our Party ebb and flow. When times were bad it was the thin orange line of councillors who stood firm. When things went well the barricades from which we advanced were manned by the self-same councillors. Our Party HQ is too much a part of the Westminster bubble to appreciate the strength of the way forward led not just by PPCs but underpinned by councillors.

So, no razz-a matazz; no stickers; no meetings. BUT if you want a chat whilst at Conference or at other times if you are not there please don’t hesitate to talk to me. My e-mail is [email protected] and my phone is 07885 626913.

* Cllr Richard Kemp CBE, Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats

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4 Comments

  • nigel hunter 15th Mar '19 - 10:14am

    The party is far more than the Westminster Bubble, radical and it should also be rebellious to bring change.Change in the party and country. The president should be active and a stirrer. Kemp for president

  • Amen to point 2. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve deferred looking up campaign stuff or policy information on the website because of the hassle wading through shouty pop-ups about the supporters scheme. We can surely find a way to reach out to new people without hacking off existing members.

  • David Becket 15th Mar '19 - 8:22pm

    Yes to point 2. The current web site is now a user unfriendly mess.

  • OnceALibDem 16th Mar '19 - 9:50am

    “I am not yet starting a proper campaign”

    Then goes on to explain why he’d like to be party president.

    Cute 🙂

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