Dick Newby to chair Lib Dem manifesto group as party consults members

An email from Tim Farron to party members brings the news that Lib Dem peer Dick Newby is to chair the party’s newly formed Manifesto Group, charged with drawing up a manifesto as part of the party’s preparations for a possible early general election in 2016.

Dick Newby was a key member of the SDP and subsequently Chief of Staff to then party leader Charles Kennedy. He is on Twitter at @RichardNewby3.

The full membership of the 2016 Manifesto Group, which was appointed by the Federal Policy Committee (FPC), is:

The email to party members includes a survey [now closed] covering some specific issues the manifesto group is looking for feedback on. The manifesto draft will in turn come to the Lib Dem Federal Policy Committee (FPC), which I’m an elected member of and so you can also let me have your views in the form below.

A bit of explanation about the survey might be helpful too. As I commented on Facebook:

The point of the survey is deliberately to try to push members to make difficult choices.

The risk otherwise with consultations like this is that they come back with responses along the lines of ‘we’d like jam, cake and free ponies today and then the same again tomorrow please’. Then when it comes to the manifesto and putting together a plan whose sums add up and involves practical volumes of legislation for Parliament etc. we on the Federal Policy Committee have to choose between jam, cake and ponies.

Or when it comes to a hung Parliament and negotiations, the negotiators have to choose which of jam, cake or ponies to concede to get a deal for the other two.

Much better, I think, to have members involved in that sort of prioritising – so yes, for many if not most questions you’ll probably think ‘but I like bits of all the answers’, because in a way that’s the point.

The official party survey is being carried out in cooperation with Your Liberal Britain, the excellent group founded by new party members looking to encourage more debate about the party’s beliefs. It’s good to see the official party working with supportive bodies in a way that strengthens and supports the wider Liberal Democrat organisation too.

You can find the Lib Dem manifestos from previous general elections here.

UPDATE: The 2016 manifesto never saw the light of day, but it was heavily used for the eventual 2017 general election manifesto.

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