Political

Welcome to Barbara Gibson, chair of the Federal People Development Committee

Barbara Gibson

Catching up on some news from before the coronavirus crisis really hit, welcome to former MEP Barbara Gibson who is the new chair of the party’s Federal People Development Committee (FPDC).

Here’s what she has written for the party website:

Like many of you reading this, I’m a relative newcomer to politics and to the Lib Dems. I joined in 2016, so I think I bring a fresh perspective to this role as a newbie. I’m eager to help the party expand and improve on its strategy, structures and processes for recruiting, engaging and activating members.

Although it’s been a short time, I’m no stranger to campaigns, at any level. In addition to winning election to European Parliament last May, I currently serve as a Hertfordshire County Councillor and stood for Parliament in 2017. I think that I’m a good example of what is possible if you engage a new member and provide the right resources. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the outstanding training and support offered by the party.

Just a few months after joining I was able to attend my first party conference. I spent nearly the entire time in training sessions. Clearly I got a taste for it, attending my first ALDC Kickstart weekend a few months later with other members of my local party. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to attend more conferences and more training events. Our face-to-face training opportunities are unparalleled – but the percentage of members who can access that face-to-face training is minuscule. We haven’t been quite as strong at providing other forms of training and resources. That’s something I’m keen to change.

In the past four years, our party membership has boomed, meaning that newbies now outnumber long-time members. We need, now more than ever, to quickly develop the knowledge and skills of a larger number of people than ever before. Add to that the fast-changing landscape of UK politics and new and innovative ways to engage voters, and it’s clear that we can’t just do what has worked in the past. The Liberal Democrats are already leading the way in modern campaigning, and I look forward to supporting this in my new role.

Outside of the Liberal Democrats, I have spent 25 years in the corporate world, and 10 years training and lecturing, including developing learning content both for face-to-face and online learning. I have also led a large voluntary organisation. I can’t wait to bring this experience to the role and to work closely with both staff and FPDC members to take our people development strategies, structures and resources to the next level. We have an outstanding committee, including a diverse mix of perspectives and experiences. I have high hopes for the next three years – let’s get to work!

The other federal party committee chairs are Lisa Smart on the Federal Communications and Elections Committee (also new in post), Jonathan Fryer on the Federal International Relations Committee (ditto) and three longer-standing chairs, Geoff Payne on the Federal Conference Committee, Helena Cole on the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee and Tony Harris on the Federal Finance and Resources Committee.

The Federal Policy Committee is chaired by the party leader or their nominee, so at the moment it is in effect being run by the two vice-chairs, Jeremy Hargreaves and Sally Burnell.

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