What Lib Dem members think on Europe, and on Board reform

There are two new stories up on the main Liberal Democrat website about the views of party members on topics that are currently very much up for debate in the party.

First, on Europe, where the party is working out how to flesh out the route between where we are now and the party’s long term aim of seeing the UK return to the European Union. As Duncan Brack writes on the party website:

You may remember, last November, taking part in a survey on members’ views on Brexit and the party’s campaigning on the future of UK–EU relations. Thanks to everyone who participated – 6,500 members, more than any previous survey of this type – and thanks to Greg Foster and Dan Schmeising at party HQ who organised it on behalf of the Federal Policy Committee. This article gives you the results.

You can read those results here.

Second, on party reform there’s a story from me reporting on the views of party members on the future of the Federal Board:

After the disappointment and failure of the 2019 general election, an independent post-mortem was carried out into what went wrong. The findings of the Thornhill Review set a broad and challenging reform agenda for the party, which we’ve made good progress on implementing so far.

On the role of the Federal Board itself, the Thornhill Review found that:

– The lack of connection between operational, political and governing parts of the party has created structures which foster a lack of collaboration and isolated decision making. (p.35)

– A fragmented organisation led to low collaboration and isolated decision making. (p.33)

– There is no clear ‘leadership team’ where the three pillars of the party – political, operational, federal – can make cohesive decisions, simply, quickly, and effectively. The Federal Board – 40+ members – is not, cannot, and should not be that team. (p.34)

– The Federal Board was often a ‘rubber-stamp’ and is too large a group to be a realistic decision-making body. (p.22)

Having a well-functioning Board is not only crucial therefore to our future successes. It’s also crucial to make our internal democracy work – because when committees aren’t working well, power seeps away into unaccountable corners, behind the scenes.

That’s why the Federal Board has run a series of consultation sessions at conferences in 2020 and 2021 on possible reforms, and then carried out a more detailed and specific consultation survey before Christmas.

You can read the full results here.

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4 responses to “What Lib Dem members think on Europe, and on Board reform”

  1. go back 10-15 years and look at opinions then.. and public priorities. At that time discussion of ‘Europe’ or the question of being in or out was very low on people’s priorities. People generally didn’t know much about, or have an interest in finding out, what little they did know was from the press, interspersed with the made-up stories..
    In a list of voter policy priorities EU was around 15th or lower, and as time passes now we are heading towards returning to that state of affairs, with prejudice against the EU fuelled by the right-wing press.. and a general apathy and dis-interest.
    If the Party is to spend any band-width on EU in campaigning it should focus on education of what EU is and does, what benefits EU members have, comparing how UK is dealing with issues with how EU does, the beneficial directives and rules that apply there that don’t apply here etc. So approaching it in a forward looking manner, not fighting the battle we lost or campaigning to re-join. There has to be a mind-shift before a rejoin can be contemplated.
    More important, by far, is building our democracy. I am sickened with how glibly Tory Ministers in every interview mis-use the term ‘democracy’ trying to con the public that, just because they keep saying it, this is one. That would be a better focus for our energies, to market democracy as a good idea. If we had a democracy we would not be in this mess now.

  2. Lib Dem members have learnt the lessons of 2019. Despite almost unanimous support for Remain, members voiced our desire to end divisive Leave / Remain identity politics, and promote policies which are combined, inclusive messages, which build bridges. We need to win support of Leavers too. Let’s bury the hatchet about Brexit (however much pain it is causing), and show how our differentiated “closer ties to EU” policies would benefit trade, supply chains, energy prices, cost of living, availability of workforce, Northern Ireland, etc.

  3. More important than the ability to call a vote of no confidence in the President, is the ability to call a vote of no confidence in the Leader. Looking back to the way that Tim Farron’s leadership of the Party ended, as a result of the actions of unelected Lib Dem Parliamentarians, that is to say members of the Party in the House of Lords, it is surely essential that Party members who elected the Leader in the first place should be the ones with the right of recall. In that sense, we are even less democratic than the Tories where 15% of the MPs can force a vote of no confidence.

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