Liberal Democrat Party President: what’s the post for? (LDN #129)

Liberal Democrat Newswire #129 hit email inboxes earlier this week, including a look at the popular question: what is the role of Liberal Democrat President?

You can now read it in full below, but if you’d like the convenience of getting it direct by email in future just sign up for it here.

Dr Mark Pack's Liberal Democrat Newswire - email header


A special warm welcome this time to the several hundred new readers in the last few weeks. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing about what the party is up to weeks before the media catches up and runs ‘exclusive’ stories.

As well as the new campaign guides for Lib Dem members and all the other news below, I’ve got a couple of special surveys running at the moment:

Happy reading,


In this edition:

Lib Dem President election ballot paper

Party President race: what’s the post for?

The elections are now underway for the next President of the Liberal Democrats, as well as key federal party committees and other posts (full list of candidates here).

I’m running for Party President, up against Christine Jardine. The hustings between us have started and you can re-watch our online hustings here. Future hustings dates are on the party website.

One of the questions regularly coming up is, ‘what’s the role of the President?’ There’s a formal definition of the role in the party’s constitution, but I think it’s fair to say that we’re both setting out different visions for the job. In that sense, the definition of the role is up to party members in choosing between us.

For me, what’s key is the party’s strategy and organisation.

We have a great new leader, a new deputy leader and a growing Parliamentary team. We need all the national media coverage we can get to go to Jo, Ed and our other leading spokespeople.

What the President can do, one step back from the immediate pressures of the Westminster bubble and the 24-hour news cycle, is to keep focused on ensuring we get our strategy and organisation right, so that Lib Dems win more often, and on a bigger scale than ever before.

That’s the way we stop Brexit, save our planet and heal our society.

That requires keeping our collective focus on the longer-term – beyond the next day’s news headlines and also remembering there’s a world after the next general election. It also requires thinking broader – remembering all those elections other than those for the House of Commons.

Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, directly elected Mayors, the London Assembly, local government, Police and Crime Commissioners and the European Parliament – they all matter too.

There are, for example, now 50 Liberal Democrat council leaders or co-leaders. Day in, day out they are bringing Liberal Democracy to life in their communities. The party’s strategy and organisation needs to serve them, and Lib Dems at all levels.

I’ve set out in more detail how we can go about doing just that:

It’s vital we get our strategy and organisation right, which is why if you elect me to this role, I’ll switch away from full-time employment and it will be my only role in the party – so I can focus absolutely on getting things right, to ensure even more of us win, more often.

You can find out more and sign up as a supporter, volunteer to help or make a donation on my campaign website.

The party is in a bit of a race to try to get the elections for Party President and party committees done before a general election happens. Assuming that the whole thing doesn’t get delayed therefore the key dates are:

  • 24 October: postal ballots to members go in the post (these are for members for who the party doesn’t have an email address)
  • 26 October: online voting instructions go out to members
  • 8 November, 5pm: voting closes
  • 9 November: declaration and results

Keep an eye out in your inbox (and spam/junk folders) for emails with more news about the elections from the party – and then that key voting email. Good luck also to everyone running for the many other posts.

You don’t have to wait a month for the next Liberal Democrat Newswire email. I run a series of other email lists, including weekly council by-election results, the latest opinion poll news or all the latest national media news about at the party. Take a look and pick the ones you’d like at www.libdemnewswire.com.

You can also get more with the Lib Dem Newswire Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Mark Pack canvassing fact sheet

Exclusive campaign guides:
how to canvass, how to leaflet

During the 2017 general election, I did a series of video guides to explain what the party does and why. This time, in addition to a series of blog posts explaining campaigning (on which, see below), I’m going for a set of simple A4 guides that new members can use to learn how to campaign and more experiences activists can use to help train up new members.

They are one side A4 black and white – so designed to be easy to print off at home if you wish.

Get the guides to canvassing and leafleting here.

I’m also planning on doing a third guide in time for a possible 2019 general election. The original idea was to do one about polling day (knocking up and telling). But quite a few people have told me they’d find one on telephone canvassing more useful. Do you have a view on which would be more useful – or have a different suggestion? Just hit reply and let me know – thank you!

Jo Swinson speaking at the 2019 Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth - photo from the Lib Dems

I am standing here as your candidate for Prime Minister: Jo Swinson

Starting her first speech to federal conference as party leader, Jo Swinson said:

Twenty-one years on from my first Liberal Democrat conference, I am thrilled to stand before you today as your leader. I’m delighted to see so many old friends who have kept the torch of liberalism burning bright through troubled times. And I’m excited to welcome thousands of new members to our cause, flocking to the Liberal Democrats as the clear rallying point for a movement to create an open, fair, inclusive society.

Over the summer, we showed the others how it’s done. We had an energetic and positive leadership contest where many thousands of you engaged.

I want to say a huge thank you to my friend Ed Davey. Ed, you are a brilliant campaigner, with a superb record of action as Secretary of State for Climate Change. I’m delighted that there’s also a promise of more, with you in the key roles of Shadow Chancellor and now Deputy Leader.

You can read the rest of her speech in full here.

The four secrets to winning elections

Who needs a book of 101 ways to win when you can listen to me giving four ways?


Mark Pack speaking

Rebels with a cause: listen to the latest Never Mind The Bar Charts

There have been not one but two episodes of Never Mind The Bar Charts since last time, each better than the other:

  • Rebels with a cause, in which Stephen Tall and I discussed the growing number of recruits to the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party, the unusual set of seats the party is targeting for the general election, why Will Hutton is wrong about Jeremy Corbyn and why everyone should go read Gaby Hinsliff.
  • Is politics still about left versus right? This was a variation of the usual format as I interviewed Paula Surridge about her research into the British electorate. She’s been one of the pioneers in understanding how there is more than left versus right to modern British politics. Listen to hear what she has to say about what this means for the Liberal Democrats…

🎧 You can also find Never Mind The Bar Charts on the web or in your favourite podcast app. All these include our full back catalogue, including the second of our shows to break the 1,000 listener barrier: “Why did Jo Swinson win and what happens now?

Liberal Democrat Newswire is provided for free. Thank you so much to all the kind readers who donate to help cover its costs. It’s quick and easy to sign up for a small regular donation with your debit card using GoCardless:
£10 per month / £5 per month / £2.50 per month / £1 per month
Thank you! (Other donation options, including by PayPal or cheque, are here.)

Why the *#@$ is the party wasting money on sending me literature?

In case you missed them the first time around, here are the highlights from my blog over the last month:

⭐ Why the *#@$ is the party wasting money on sending me literature? Following the success of my videos in the 2017 election demystifying elements of our campaigning for newer members, I’ve returned to the theme with the first in a series of posts explaining the apparently baffling.

Why the Liberal Democrats are right to back revoking Article 50.

New YouGov polling shows Lib Dem message on Brexit is getting through.

LGBT+ Lib Dems write-up their meeting with Phillip Lee.

Steve Hitchins passes away. Thank you for all you did for us, Steve, and much love, Sarah.

❓ How many Liberal Democrat MPs are there? Much harder to keep track of these days.

💡 Chuka Umunna explains the Lib Dem position on votes of no confidence.

Munira Wilson and Twickenham Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat selection news

Selections of Westminster Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) are coming through at a very rapid rate now. The volume means I’m not able to blog each one individually, but they are all going up on my public list of Lib Dem PPCs.

A particular shout-out to Karen Ward (North Norfolk, where Norman Lamb is standing down), Munira Wilson (Twickenham, where Vince Cable is standing down) and to two high-profile new recruits to the party. Nicola Horlick, the famous businesswoman, has been selected for Chelsea and Fulham, and David Nicholl, the doctor who had a notorious run-in with Jacob Rees-Mogg, has been selected in Bromsgrove.

If you have been recently selected yourself, this list of tips will, I hope, be useful.

Thanks are due too to Rob Castell who has stood down as PPC in Beaconsfield in order to help Dominic Grieve as part of the various Remain Alliance talks and to Ian Sollom who has also stood down as PPC. He’s done so in South Cambridgeshire thanks to Heidi Allen deciding to join the party. Likewise thanks are due to Clareine Enderby, who stood aside for Luciana Berger in Finchley and Golders Green. Sarah Wollaston, meanwhile, has confirmed she wishes to stand again in Totnes, while Phillip Lee is going to stand in Wokingham against John Redwood.

It’s unlikely these will be the last pieces of such news given the continuing serious talks and other pieces of progress, such as the Renew Party backing Chuka Umunna.

What the voters are saying, part 1

Opinion polls round-up 8 October 2019

To get updates about voting intention opinion polls, sign up for Polling UnPacked.

To see all the historical trends for voting intention polls back to 1943 see PollBase.

What the voters are saying, part 2

Election Maps UK roundup of council by election results as of end September 2019

Council by-elections continue to tell a happy story for the Liberal Democrats: votes up, both in areas of traditional strength and elsewhere, and seat gains common too:

🗳️ Lib Dems gain seat in South Northamptonshire off Conservatives.
🗳️ Lib Dems take council seat off the Tories as Labour vote falls around the country.
🗳️ First Labour council by-election gain from Conservatives for over three months.
🗳️ Lib Dems win council seat in Somerset off independents, beating Conservatives.

The party has also picked up a former Conservative councillor in Gloucestershire, another in Bristol, a Conservative councillor in Barnet and also a former Labour councillor in the borough, as well as activists from around the country. The only switch away since last time I’ve spotted is in Tunbridge Wells.

To get the full council by-election results every week, sign up for my blog posts digest and to be prepared for a council by-election in your patch, see my 7-step guide to getting ready in advance.

Screen capture of tweet from Mark Pack encouraging people to follow @goknockdoorsld

Other Liberal Democrats in the news

Jo Swinson says she will stop Lib Dems singing “Tony Blair Can F*** off and Die” at conference.

Legalise cannabis, says Liberal Democrat candidate for London mayor.

Tactical voting by Remain supporters could defeat 60 Tories and end Boris Johnson’s reign at snap election, poll indicates.

Death threats against my colleagues are not ‘humbug’ Boris Johnson, they are a hate crime which you are encouraging – Layla Moran.

Thank you for reading

If you enjoyed reading this, please do share the sign-up page with other people you know. Thank you!

And if you are looking for a speaker or trainer for a Liberal Democrat event, do get in touch.

Best wishes,


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