Political

7 things to remember about Vince Cable, party reforms and recent media coverage

1. No, Vince Cable isn’t about to step down: “There have been false rumours lately. As this statement says, I’m not stepping down anytime soon.”

2. Successful parties need the right leadership, messaging and organisation. All three are parts of success. Thinking only one should be given attention as if getting that one right will fix all problems is a mistake now, just as it has been in the past when some members have fixed on another of the trio.

3. Moreover, how you organise yourself is part of the message and an indication of the style of leadership. That’s why organisational change is a regular feature of the recovery of political parties both in the UK and in other Parliamentary democracies. Think Conservatives, Labour and sister liberal parties.

4. Sometimes, the straightforward approach of following what someone has been saying in public pay dividends: in this case, Vince Cable has been consistently telling the media for several months that he wants to open up the party to make it more of a mass campaigning movement, including organisational reforms such as a registered supporters scheme.

See, for example, his New Statesman piece from June which is well worth a study if you haven’t read it before as it sets out the wider approach in which these proposals form a part.

5. The proposals floated in the media in the last few days are nothing new. Readers of Liberal Democrat Newswire, ahem, for example will have seen detailed pieces about them in #113 back in June and #115 earlier this month. (You can sign up for LDN for free here.)

6. That said, it’s unwise to rely on members or even activists following media coverage about the party leader to communicate internally.

That may sound odd, but I’ve seen this consistently over several decades now. A Lib Dem leader can repeatedly say things in the media and you still have activists turn round to say, genuinely if a little surprisingly (to me at least), that it’s all new to them.

Perhaps it’s something to do with a combination of being busy and feeling you already know plenty about what’s going on which means, say, an op-ed from the party leader gets little attention. The party’s internal comms should cater better for this regular pattern (and hence my criticism of the party’s internal comms culture in Lib Dem Newswire #115).

Two tips for party members on what you can do to help remedy this:

  • Follow Vince Cable’s page on Facebook. As with the ‘I’m not standing down’ message, this is where he often posts comments on such stories.
  • If you didn’t recently receive via email a survey from the party about party reforms, then it’s worth dropping a line to help@libdems.org.uk to check the party has the right email address for you and that it is not recorded as being opted-out from such messages.

7. There’s no mystery about Vince Cable doing more than one speech in September. Flip it around and think of the reverse. Think how weird it would be if he’d announced that he wasn’t doing any other speeches in September as he can cover everything in one party conference speech. The party needs to secure more coverage, and multiple speeches are one way to do that.

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