Political

Timetable agreed for Liberal Democrat leadership election

As the party press release says:

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

At a meeting today of the party’s Federal Board in London, the party agreed to open nominations for candidates on the 11th of May and close them on the 28th of May.

The ballot will then open on the 18th of June and close on the 15th of July, after which the party will announce the next leader.

In the meantime, Ed Davey MP and Party President Mark Pack will continue as joint acting leaders of the Liberal Democrats.

Speaking after the meeting, Liberal Democrat Party President Mark Pack said:

“I want first to thank Jo Swinson for her determined leadership of the Liberal Democrats.

“The Liberal Democrats are the home for everyone who shares our vision of an outward-looking, caring country that celebrates diversity and benefits from high-quality public services.

“With our party membership at record levels, I urge everyone else who shares our values to join us in the coming days and vote in the leadership election.”

The Board discussed in some detail different possible options for the timetable, and we carefully considered the pros and cons of, for example, having a leadership election that took place sooner. Considerations such as wanting to get our review of last year’s elections done first and also avoiding distracting key activists from the May elections were weighed against the benefits of having a new leader sooner.

In particular, the main reasons given in the internal debates were:

  • We should do our review into what went wrong/right in 2019 first so that its lessons can then be factored into both what leadership candidates and party members are then thinking about during the contest;
  • Leadership contests take up the time and attention of key activists who run the campaigns – and so better to minimise the impact of that on the local elections by having the contest after them;
  • It’ll be clearer what the new political era we’re now in is like by then, including who the Labour leader is; and
  • A longer-run up gives more time for recruiting and renewing membership and also to properly plan engaging members in the contest via a good set of hustings.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that various parties have had acting or interim leaders during local elections in the past. I can’t spot any pattern of their local election results suffering as a result.

The close of nominations date will also be the qualifying cut-off for being able to vote in the election. It’s therefore a key date for recruiting and renewing party membership.

UPDATE: The election has now been rescheduled.

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