The former MP for North Devon, Nick Harvey, has been appointed as interim Chief Executive at Liberal Democrat HQ following the departure of Tim Gordon.
Nick Harvey said of his appointment,
I am greatly looking forward to supporting Vince Cable as our new Leader, and hope that working closely together we can further revive Lib Dem fortunes. The party has shown great resilience. Now we have a real opportunity to begin the process of moving forwards again.
British politics has never been in greater need of the Liberal Democrats. There is a major gap which only we can fill, not least on Brexit. This could have a dramatic impact on people’s jobs, the health and care system they depend on, and the schools and colleges which enable everyone to succeed in life.
We must boldly promote our liberal values, at home but also with partners abroad – not fighting them, but working to find international solutions to global security and environmental challenges.
The party has many talented, experienced and innovative people, as well as legions of new members. Together we can get things going again.
The reference to Brexit is significant given Nick Harvey’s record on Europe. He argued in favour of Remain at the 2016 referendum but he was the one Lib Dem MP to vote against the Maastricht Treaty. It’s good therefore that he’s made clear that he sees the party’s position on Brexit as a large part of the party’s future.
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:
Nick has a vast amount of experience in parliament and government, as well as in management in the private sector. It is a coup to have someone of his ability to run the party machine at a time of exciting opportunity for the Liberal Democrats.
That skill will certainly be needed given the scale of the challenge facing the Liberal Democrats. It is now nearly seven years since the party last consistently reached double figures in opinion polls, for example. Similarly it is over a decade since the party last managed to gain seats in local elections two years in a row.
Party president Baroness Sal Brinton added:
Nick takes the helm with our membership at record levels, an increase in MPs, a string of council by-election gains and fundraising working well. It is great to have his steady hand on the tiller as the Liberal Democrats chart the next leg of our journey. We will advertise in due course to fill the role permanently.
The Federal Board (FB) is currently putting in place arrangements for recruiting a permanent Chief Executive.
Here’s what his official blurb says about Nick Harvey:
Nick Harvey has a vast amount of experience in politics, business and the charitable sector.
Nick comes from a City background, having been an account director at Dewe Rogerson, and worked at Profile PR and Westminster Consortium. He will take up his new role next week on the back of recent experience at Global Partners, where he was an adviser on Egypt and Jordan. He has also been seeking to widen access to the law as chair of Lawthority, while also chairing the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust (a role he will step back from while serving as interim chief executive).
He was a campaigning and dedicated constituency MP for North Devon for 22 years. During this time (1992-2015) he served on the House of Commons Commission where he drove through reforms to modernise how parliament works. He was chair of campaigns for the Liberal Democrats in the late 1990s, including for the breakthrough 1997 election.
As Minister of State at Defence he chaired a board with a budget of £38bn.
Through his career, he has developed skills in PR, human resources and management in which he has an outstanding record for delivering change.
UPDATE: Nick Harvey has now been appointed the party’s permanent Chief Executive.