I’m on a train on the way to the second meeting of the new Federal Executive and I realise I hadn’t told you about the first one which took place five weeks ago.
On that occasion, we were in the Thatcher Room of Portcullis House. I found myself sitting opposite a portrait of Thatcher and rather childishly decided that I seriously couldn’t look at it for 3 hours and so moved to the other side of the room.
This was the first meeting chaired by our new President Sal Brinton. She was very effective, making sure everyone had their say, but also at making sure we covered all the business. There was a determination that this FE was going to be part of setting the agenda, not rubber-stamping things that had been decided elsewhere.
Our main discussions focused on:
Standing orders: not as boring as it sounds. The way the FE operates is crucial. I was keen to have added in a clause that ensured that everything passed by FE had a Comms plan attached to it. It doesn’t need to be long, but it does need to say who is to be told and how. Anyway, the job of revising the standing orders has been delegated to a working group who will report to the next meeting. In the interim, the previous standing orders were reinstated. This sounds like the sort of item that could take hours to sort out at a Lib Dem meeting, but it was, as it should be, over in a matter of moments. No wills to live were lost.
Results of FE Elections. A series of posts available for all party members to stand for had been advertised on Liberal Democrat Voice (in fact, there are some more happening now with a deadline of this Friday). The following were elected:
– Councillor Reps: Kath Pinnock, Chris White
– Deputy Chair: Neil Fawcett
– FFAC Members: Liz Leffman, Glen Hughes, Peter Ellis, Edward Lord, Seth Thevoz
– CCC Members: Candy Piercy, Martin Tod
– FCC Representatives: James Gurling, Kavya Kaushik
– ALDE Council Representative: Robert Woodthorpe-Brown
– Liberal International Executive Representatives: Ab Brightman, Phil Bennion
– Diversity Engagement Group Members: Daisy Cooper, Ed Fordham, Pauline Pearce
FE members were also asked to volunteer to be the liaison person for regions and S/AOs. I have ended up as liaison person for the North East, so I shall be providing reports to them and taking up any of their concerns.
The implementation of one member one vote continues. The sub-group was to meet the next day and there would be a consultation session at Spring Conference to take feedback on the progress made.
Post-election strategy: Danny Alexander came along to talk about the work of the group which will be taking responsibility for coalition negotiations which consists of him, David Laws, Steve Webb and Lynne Featherstone. Sal Brinton had been on it but stepped down on being elected President. She will be replaced in due course. FE also had a preliminary discussion on how we would organise ourselves in the days after the election. This will be discussed further at the next meeting.
Morrissey Report implementation: This is now a standing item on FE agendas. Pastoral Care Officer Jeanne Tarrant came along and told us about the sorts of complaints she has dealt with in the last year. We asked her about how complaints were tracked and about rolling out unconscious bias training.
Election prep: We spent quite a long time, as you would expect, discussing many matters in relation to the election, from messaging to internal communications to the issue of candidate selection. It was good to see that progress has been made in terms of candidate selection, mainly after a fair bit of pushing by FE members who felt that things were moving quite slowly. It would be useful to have any information about any potential problems in this regard to pass on.
Tim Gordon also gave a report on how LDHQ were preparing for the election, the Team 2015 initiative and the fundraising efforts.
The meeting took place after the Wyboston training weekend which had prepared organisers for their GOTV operations.
Tonight, we’ll have half an hour with Olly Grender to discuss all matters election, state party reports, a financial report from Federal Finance and Administration Committee Chair Peter Dunphy and we’ll be discussing terms of reference for the independent review into BAME participation which will be set up after the election.
This is our last proper meeting before the short campaign so we will want to be sure that all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
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