As ballot papers land on voting reps’ doormats for the Liberal Democrats’ internal elections, I thought I’d just do a quick post telling you why I have decided to stand for the Federal Executive. Two years ago, this would have been impossible. In the past, anyone even hinting that they were going to vote for me anywhere online could have had me disqualified. The rule was initially put in place before the internet and it was designed with good intentions: to stop richer candidates outspending those who couldn’t afford to run a campaign across the country. It took longer than it should have done for it to be relaxed, and this is the first time candidates are free to use free online resources to give more information about themselves than you can ever put on an A5 leaflet.
By the way, Jennie Rigg has been posing questions to FPC and FCC candidates on her blog. Before you vote, read their answers here.
FE is the body that sets the Party’s strategy. It directs, co-ordinates and implements the work of the Federal Party. It makes sure that our operations are well targeted and resourced and it came to national prominence during the Coalition nominations as it voted on whether we should join the Government.
Why I’d be good on FE
- I have almost 30 years’ experience as grassroots activist, campaigner and party office bearer at local, regional and national level;
- I’ve a good track record of team building and getting people to work well together;
- I’m not afraid to challenge leaders when I think they are getting it wrong, but I think it’s important to do so constructively in a way that encourages them to listen and take heed;
- I’ve been involved in planning and resourcing Scotland wide election campaigns and helped take the party to its highest point as Scottish Campaigns and Candidates Convener in 2005. I think I have the skills and experience to contribute to our recovery.
- We need to make sure that activists have the right support and materials to take on the doorsteps so they can confidently answer voters’ concerns.
- We can’t just dismiss those people who have left us since 2010. Some of them can be persuaded back to us. We need to show them that our ministers are achieving things they like as well as persuading new people that we are worth backing.
- We need to engage more directly with people our policies have directly helped – the flexible parental leave plans championed by Nick Clegg will make such a difference to families. for example.
- Communication within the party has been improving steadily, but we need more, better and quicker rebuttal of opposition messages and relentless promotion of our successes. We also need to make sure that the content of messages is sensitive – that hasn’t always been the case. If in doubt, the people who write this stuff should get someone outside the Westminster Bubble to read it. I’m offering…..
- Members are more important to us than they are to the other, richer parties. We need to reverse the fall in membership. We need to inspire activists to recruit and win people back.
- I will be accessible to members and ensure that any concerns that they bring to me as an FE member are dealt with.
- We need to make sure that no part of the country is forgotten – our message needs to be as radical and relevant in Scotland and the north as it is in the south and south west.
- There are signs that the things I warned about in 2010 are causing tensions within the party. It’s more important than ever that we bridge the gap between leaders and activists. The webinars help – we need more of them and similar events. We need to restore trust as well by making sure Conference decisions are taken seriously by the party leadership. I would expect, for example, that the wishes of Conference as regards secret courts (sign the petition here) and equal citizenship to be advanced by our ministers.
- It may only be 925 or so days until the General Election, but it’s only 28 to by-elections and Police Commissioner elections, 200 ish to local elections and 600 ish until the Euros. We have to get these right, too. I can help see that we do.