The Liberal Democrat Federal Board (FB), of which I’m a member, is meeting a week today to discuss the timetable for the Liberal Democrat leadership election.
The rules for the leadership contest are agreed by party conference but there is some leeway over what the Federal Board can decide on for the timescale. The rules set down a normal timescale of between 8 and 13 weeks.
The lower figure is as high as it is because once you allow for a nomination period and then time for a good number of hustings around the country, followed by enough time for people to vote after they’ve been to a hustings, you quickly get up to a goodly number of weeks. Especially when you leave time for the candidates to do campaigning other than going to hustings along with time to keep their day job as an MP ticking over.
But there’s still a fair amount of variation in the timing permitted, not to mention the question of exactly when that timetable kicks off.
Which leads to the question: should the Federal Board go for as quick a leadership election as possible or not?
Broadly speaking, the main argument in favour is ‘the next general election might be this year, so we need to get a move on’, while the main argument against is ‘the most successful party leaders are ones who are thoroughly put through their paces in an intense election contests – the warnings are there for us from Gordon Brown and Theresa May, for example’.
More time allows for more hustings to take place too, but also means more time for the party to be in a form of limbo without a new leader whilst the rest of politics gets on anyway.
What’s your preference?