Lib Dem leadership election timetable and other issues for the Federal Board

Next Saturday is the first meeting of the new Liberal Democrat Federal Board (FB), which will see a mix of old and new faces either around the table or joining via video conference. It’ll also be my first outing chairing the Board, so with a bit of luck, we’ll have finished by Monday lunchtime…

Watch out for my report on the party website which will follow a few days after, but as lots of people have been asking, it’s worth noting in advance some of the key points we’ll have on the agenda.

Timetable for the party leadership election

Timetable agreed for Liberal Democrat leadership election

The Liberal Democrats have today agreed the timetable to elect the next leader of the Liberal Democrats. more

Before Christmas, the Board agreed that the party should take some time to reflect on lessons from 2019 and so rather than immediately kicking-off the leadership contest it held over setting the timetable until our January meeting.

Quite a range of opinions have been expressed as to what the ideal timeline is (from ASAP to taking more time to reflect and learn). The Board will, therefore, be making its best efforts to pick the right answer when we meet.

Confirmation of plans for elections review

Dorothy Thornhill to chair Liberal Democrat elections review

The Chair is Dorothy Thornhill, who was the elected Mayor of Watford for 16 years, leading a successful turnaround of the council’s administration and quality of services. more

The independent review of our European and general election campaigns is being organised by the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee (FASC), which gives it an added degree of independence from those involved in running those campaigns.

The Board will hear the latest on those plans and, hopefully, agree with them.

News of the panel chair and members, along with further ways to feed in your views in addition to the initial survey, will follow.

Party internal elections

There are nearly 50 posts of various sorts to fill across different party committees, review teams and posts. The Board will be looking at the timetable for these, so keep an eye out for the advertisements of all these posts soon after.

There will be lots of important ways for people to get more involved in the party – and getting a diverse range of skilled applicants will be a real boon for getting things right in how we run the party.

The Board will also be kicking off the required review after each round of all-member elections, so watch out too for news on how we’ll be reviewing the conduct of the elections just before Christmas for the federal committees and President.

And not on the agenda…

Because the Federal Board’s remit is meant to be strategic, there are many important things which don’t naturally fall to it because they are more operational in nature or because they fall to another part of the party. Our support for devolution in public government is meant to be matched by devolution in how we operate as a party. As a result, being important is not synonymous with being on the FB’s agenda.



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5 responses to “Lib Dem leadership election timetable and other issues for the Federal Board”

  1. I think it would be wise to wait until the conclusion of Labour’s leadership election before engaging in our own. Whatever direction they take will determine what possibilities there will be for us over the next 5 years. If they continue with Corbyn’s brand of far-left radical socialism, then moderate Tories will remain petrified to vote for anyone else. As such, our best chances are to try to focus on attracting centrist Labour supporters. In these circumstances, a clean break from our legacy in coalition would be best with a leader that doesn’t have this baggage. However, if Labour tack back to centre then the greatest opportunities will be attracting moderate Conservatives who no longer have the ‘fear factor’ of a Corbyn/Corbynista government. In these circumstances and with these voters our time in coalition is actually a huge plus point for us, and hence someone like Ed Davey will provide a huge amount of credibility and reassurance when appealing to these voters. I’m not suggesting our policies would be very different in either case, however the result of the Labour leadership election will have a huge impact on who will be our best target demographic, and we should choose our leader accordingly.

  2. These points are very well made Richard, and will carry weight. But they aren’t the only ones that will carry weight. One other question that urgently needs answering is the fine balance between a policy arrived at by Conference and the discretion of the party leader to pick a moment (and sometimes a policy) to start majoring on it. Here I’m referring to the moment when Jo Swinson, with for some people apparent suddenness, started stating Revoke and quoting the 6 plus million voters who had signed the Revoke petition. Nothing wrong with the policy or the petition, but the way the message came across (and the absence of the accompanying and very important message that the policy of a People’s Vote was still in place) is very much up for debate. Lack of experience or judgement ? Wrong people advising her, or the right advisors too slowly, or not enough contact with voters at doorstep level ? At the moment because with the Labour internal debates we the Lib Dems are benefiting from our return to virtual under-the-radar media status, we should take advantage of that status rapidly to resolve this, not wait till after the Labour election.
    I agree about Ed Davey, and there are some who will say he should do a Vince and just take over without a formal process. Looking at how many Lib Dem MPs are disqualified by already having been leader or an unsuccessful Presidential candidate, they’d have a point ….

  3. I understand the strategic thinking of Richard and Kate and to a degree it makes sense, however I don’t like letting other people set our agenda by reacting to what they are doing rather than proactively setting our own agenda.

    How do we get people to vote for us? I think people vote for the person who they can trust to represent their views and look after their interests. (or perhaps against those who they cannot trust)

    At local elections this means the person who is ‘one of us’, part of our community, who knows and understands our problems so will look after our interests. We are good at conveying these credentials and therefore do comparatively well in local elections.

    In General Elections however the Constituencies are too big for a candidate to genuinely be local to all of it and for the National Campaign clearly that approach is impossible. People still vote for someone whose ‘one of us’ and to be trusted, but the definition is widened to include the person whose basic values are close to their own and so you can trust them to represent your views and look after your interest. If you are working class you know the Labour Party will fight your corner and if you have money the Tories will look after your interest. Most people on the door step have no idea what the LibDem values are!

    We will only get elected Nationally when the electors know what our basic values are. The New leader therefore needs to be someone who has at least read the preamble to the constitution and is committed to promoting the basic Party Values at every opportunity. We never nationally state for example – ‘Our Party believes (basic value) and therefore (policy)’. All our spokespersons could say this every time they are interviewed. Of course the policy will change with the circumstances but the basic value remains the same. Unless we maximise the vote from those who agree with the values in the preamble we will never win a General Election.

  4. It will be nice to see something new on the main Lib Dem website. It’s been a month since the election and we leave the EU a fortnight on Friday, yet any new visitor to the site is still met with a huge splash of “Stop Brexit”. It’s just depressing and looks decidedly amateur. Time to move on – there are plenty of other battles to fight.
    Other than that I agree with Richard. The outcome of the Labour leadership election is critical for how our party charts its course in the future. Why make a decision before you’re in full possession of the facts when there is absolutely no need to do so?

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