Winning at every level: the Lib Dem recipe for success

During the week, I wrote again for Liberal Democrat Voice about standing for Party President, this time about winning elections at all levels:

We should never forget that winning elections at all levels matter. They directly give us the chance to implement our vision for a liberal democrat society in more communities, and they also are the springboard to future success in elections at other levels. We saw that so clearly this May, where put more Lib Dems into power and set us up win a record number of MEPs, not to mention putting us very much back on the national political map.

But the truth is too much of our organisation, especially at the federal level, often defaults to acting as if only the next Westminster contest really matters.

It’s understandable why over-stretched staff, tight budgets and busy volunteers can fall into this trap. But to build sustained, long-term success across all of England, Scotland and Wales, and to get even more Liberal Democrat policies put into action in even more communities, we need to think broader and longer-term. The next general election is crucial. But so too are the local elections coming next May, the next Scottish Parliament elections and the next Welsh Assembly elections – not to mention the general election after next.

Seeing all these elections as part of one overall mission for the party is a central part of the core votes strategy which David Howarth and I pioneered after the 2015 debacle and which has underpinned our recovery. Concentrate on those who share our values so that we build a durable, sustainable bedrock of support across all elections – and on which specific campaigns can then add the personal votes of candidates and tactical support. Stick with that task and we’ll be ready to win bigger, year after year.

That political strategy requires an organisation to match. That’s why improving and enlarging our organisation is at the heart of my pitch to be President and the five priorities I’ve set out (read them here).

Previous Presidents interpreted the role in various ways, suitable for the circumstances of the time. Right now, with a new leader, and a talented and growing Parliamentary Party with many more new faces to come at the election, what the President can best focus on is delivering the strategy and organisation required to realise the huge political potential in front of us.

Our staff are vital in this, but those are tasks that also go wider than their remit – which is why the role of President is key to getting this right, working closely with the Chief Executive but with the broader strategic remit that many of us are familiar with from the chairs of trustees.

Having a President whose top priority is the organisation and strategy to deliver our political ambitions – that will make the most impact in helping even more of us win.

That’s what I’ve got a track record of delivering – and with your support, we can achieve so much more. As our Focus leaflets so often say, a record of action – and a promise of more.

You can also read my previous piece for Lib Dem Voice, featuring chocolate, here and see why Liberal Democrat prospective candidates such as David Buxton are backing me here.


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7 responses to “Winning at every level: the Lib Dem recipe for success”

  1. I heartily agree.. wherever there is an election then a Liberal Democrat name must be on the ballot*.. voters need to get the idea that we are everywhere. If the Local Party can’t do the business then it is for the Regional Party to step in – no excuses are accepted for failing to get candidates..
    * obvious exception is where we negotiate with another party to maximise the opposition strength against an incumbent Tory.. a local decision overseen by the Region..

  2. The issue of the federal organisation only caring about Westminster elections was particularly true during Nick Clegg’s disastrous leadership. However, both the view you’ve expressed here and your previous statements about a core vote and standing in every election conflict with the current reality of standing aside to let Remain supporters from other parties or none stand in some places. How do you reconcile that?

    • Brexit, both as a threat to our country and the novel opportunities it opens up for our electoral success, is an exception to the usual pattern. You’re right that normally ‘stand everywhere, every time’ is a big part of building up our core vote, but any rule has to flex in the face of extreme situations, and that’s where we’re at with Brexit. What also makes it a bit different is not standing because of a high profile, one-off, special deal leaves a rather different impression from not standing in other cases.

  3. Getting people to stand as candidates in Local government elections has always been a problem. You have to try the personal contact rather than relying on a response to email requests for volunteers. I have been trying to find candidates for elections to take place next May but with very limited success. Any suggestions as to how to improve this situation would be appreciated.

    • Yup, face to face is a big part of it. Three good routes to look at outside your local members are – (a) members from other local parties who work in your council area (and so are qualified to stand), (b) national petition signers who live in your patch (these are accessible via Connect and have been a fruitful source of volunteers in many places), (c) working through who you know who is active in the community and might be liberal – Daisy Cooper is particularly good at helping teams work through their knowledge, unearthing more names that most people thought they would have been able to think of!

      Thanks for putting in effort on this – it’s an important part of our overall recovery.

  4. and the other way, for a current councillor, is to keep a record of everyone who contacts you about any issue, they are clearly concerned about things and should be listed as potential candidates.. If not for standing for election, they could be someone who could be encouraged to volunteer for something else in the community.

  5. I recoil at comments (the other Peter above).. only in a very narrow sense was Nick’s leadership a disaster, and that was the inevitable outcome to being a coalition partner with the well resourced and corrupt Tories. Nick did what was asked of him by the Party and he did it well, with the exception of reneging on the student fees pledge.

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