Proposed new Lib Dem committee election rules – how they should be changed

Here’s my response to the consultation over the proposed new set of rules for Liberal Democrat party committee elections:

The original OMOV motion which was amended and then passed in September 2014 called for the election regulations to be changed “to require any online voting system to prompt voters to first view candidates’ manifestos before being able to vote”.

I cannot see anything in the proposed changes to the rules which would put into force this decision taken by party conference.

Given the problems with very low prominence for candidate manifestos in some past online voting situations, I very much hope that is just an oversight which will be remedied before the proposals are finalised. Given also the importance of the issue as a matter of principle – namely that online voting should not in effect delete the provision of manifestos – I also think it is appropriate to guarantee it in the rules rather than merely to promises that people will remember to set up systems in the future to do this.

I would also suggest tightening up the wording of 7(a) to add the word “official” or similar. Otherwise, as it reads there is more scope for argument over whether, for example, Liberal Democrat Voice is covered by the rule or not. Adding an extra word would reduce the scope for argument.

Similarly, for 7(b) the principle should be that members do not abuse official party publications. An editor of a local party’s members’ newsletter should not be able to add in a ‘vote for me’ statement. Therefore, I suggest deleting “AdLib” and replacing it with “official party publications”.

One other minor point. There is a small grammatical error in 4(d). The comma should be deleted.

Otherwise I support the other changes, including the principle followed of not addressing some of the bigger (and more controversial) issues which are best left to the Governance review to more thoroughly consider.

It is a welcome move, by the way, for the Federal Executive (FE) to be carrying out this consultation. A sure lesson from past problems is that more eyes on wording before it gets locked into proposals the better, especially when – as with the election regulations – all that conference has is a yes/no vote without the option for amendments.

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