The other elections

Here’s my latest piece for Liberal Democrat Voice about the party’s internal elections:

Quite rightly, nearly all our attention now is on winning public elections: winning those council by-elections coming in before the general election and winning then in the general election too.

There is also the tail-end of the party’s internal elections, with most likely, given some of the problems with the voting system, quite a few members still to vote. (If you haven’t yet received your ballot paper, elections@libdems.org.uk can assist.)

Those internal contests matter. They will determine, for example, who is on the Federal Policy Committee (FPC), the group that will oversee the next general election manifesto after this one – and what odds that’s within a year?

And, of course, they will determine who is going to be the next Party President, taking up office on January 1. Whatever the outcome of the general election, this will be a crucial period for the party and – especially if there is a hung Parliament – one that may bring some very difficult decisions too.

That will also then be a period in which our internal democracy, including the process for deciding whether to support a government involving another party, should come into its own. It’s not only right in principle – we’re a democratic, member-led party. It is also pragmatically beneficial – because if the party’s negotiators can play the ‘but party members won’t vote for this’ card, they can get a better deal.

By the time the next President takes office, this may all be done and dusted. (Fun thought: a December election followed by a hung Parliament could mean a Lib Dem special conference to agree what party does… on December 21st.) But even if it is, there will continue to be many decisions where listening to and acting on the views of members will be crucial.

The expertise of members makes for better decision-making and the involvement of members makes for a more motivated and successful party.

As the elected voice of the members, the Party President is central to ensuring this happens, and that’s what I’ll do if you elect me.

In the meantime, happy campaigning and good luck.

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