I’ve talked often enough in the past about the problems with Liberal Democrat hustings, especially in all-member ballots such as for party leader.The standard format traditionally imposed on most hustings is dull. A series of hustings take place around the country, eating up huge amounts of time for relatively small overall attendance. At each, questions have to be addressed to all the candidates, often are taken in groups and follow-up questions frequently not allowed.
It all makes for blandness. It doesn’t put candidates on the spot. It doesn’t test out them out. It doesn’t make them have to be really good at addressing their potential weaknesses.
In other words, it serves candidates, members and the party badly, even while taking up a huge amount of time.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. We could have a system that really tests out candidates, making the choice for members better and the winner better able to do the job. We could have a system that makes for more interesting hustings, getting more people to take part.
And in fact, not just ‘we could’, but this year, we will.
The first sign of that is the email out to party members today, asking them to vote for the topics they want to see in a series of specially themed hustings for the party leadership election.
(If you are a member and didn’t receive the email, this guide should help. It’s well worth fixing what went wrong in case otherwise you miss the emails to come.)
As the email from Mike Dixon says:
This contest will be mostly online. It’s a big opportunity for more people than ever before to take part, ask questions and get to know our candidates.
As well as state and regional hustings, we’re planning for a wider mix of formats, with interviews and issue-focused hustings too.
We’re planning the detail now. Will you take a moment to let us know what matters to you, by voting in our quick poll?
Do look out for it in your inbox and vote away.
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