The Liberal Democrats’ Federal Executive met last night in a Westminster Committee room looking out on a grey and brooding Thames.
The meeting had a bit of a comedy start with a last minute change of venue leaving member scurrying from one end of the Parliamentary Estate to the other.
The major item of business was, of course, discussion about the recent elections. Several Federal Executive members had consulted widely amongst members to get their views. Only Candy Piercy, though, had been organised enough to compile the main themes of the feedback she had received into a document which she was able to distribute to us and hand directly to the leader. The extent of the unanimity amongst such a wide range of members has been quite surprising. The vast majority of members do not want to see a leadership contest but there are communication, messaging and organisational changes that they want to see.
We passed one resolution which we felt would strengthen the review taking place led by James Gurling, the Chair of the Campaigns and Communications Committee. It will now provide an interim report to the next scheduled meeting of FE on 14 July. The resolution also widened the terms of reference of the Review beyond the scope of these immediate elections and reads as follows:
The FE directs the Gurling Review to analyse and evaluate the performance of the Lib Dems’ HQ campaigns structure since the 2010 General Election.
The Review Team should present recommendations to the FE on July 14th 2014 detailing changes that should be made to improve the campaigns structure and thus the HQ Campaigns staff’s ability to:
Lead and inspire action from local campaigners and teams
Develop a positive and mutually respectful relationship with activists, local parties and regions.
Improve their internal communications with all levels of the party.
Enable local campaign teams to win at local and national level in the next two years by developing winning campaigns that connect with voters.
James also confirmed that the views of ALDC would be sought.
Nick Clegg came in for half an hour. If the meeting were a diplomatic summit, the discussions we had with him would be described as full, frank and productive. He was very candid with us and we with him. It turned out that he was pretty much on the same page as we were when it came to messaging and his speech yesterday was a step forward n developing that distinct liberal narrative that we all agree is necessary. There was unanimity around the will to see the manifesto contain some radical, liberal measures that would energise activists and resonate with voters.
We also had a brief introduction to the new head of Communications Steve Lotinga and received reports from the 3 state parties.
The skies cleared as the meeting ended.
One of the reasons that the meeting was so productive and focused was because of the considered feedback that party members provided to various FE members. This really helped to inform our discussions so thank you all. We would strongly recommend that you submit them to the Review by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org.