Tiverton & Honiton
Here’s my latest report for Liberal Democrat members and supporters, from the party website, starting with the by-election where The Guardian is now calling for Labour supporters to back the Lib Dems:
We saw last year what a huge boost it gave to the party getting two new excellent MPs elected in Parliamentary by-elections. It’s good for their constituents and also good for the party’s prospects across the whole country.
We’ve also seen this month how Conservative MPs have failed to do what our country needs – to remove Boris Johnson from 10 Downing Street.
Which is why the latest contest in Tiverton and Honiton is so important for us all again. The single most effective thing you can do in the next few weeks to help bring about his demise – and to help the party win in your own patch – is to help Richard Foord get elected on 23 June.
Many of the team have gone straight into this campaign from the May local elections, without the chance to pause for the hoped for break after those. Thank you hugely to everyone who is stretching themselves to give Richard the best of chances of winning.
Thank you too to Jamie Needle and the team in Wakefield, fighting a carefully targeted campaign there which I’m sure will help the continued growth of our council group on Wakefield Council.
Treating our staff well
Some good news to report on party staff: the federal party has been awarded the ‘excellence’ status by the Good Work Standard for how we go beyond legal minimum requirements in looking after staff.
With the amount of change since the 2019 election plus all the strains of lockdowns, it’s been a particularly tough few years for our staff. But standards such as this show how we’re taking seriously making the party a good and happy place to work.
Welcome to Cllr Mike Cox and Chris French
Chartered accountant, local councillor and former Parliamentary candidate Mike Cox has been appointed by the Federal Board as the new chair of our Federal Finances and Resources Committee (FFRC). Mike takes over from Tony Harris, who has stood down as a new academic career has unexpectedly opened up for him.
When Tony took up the post, the party’s finances faced many difficult challenges. Tony has steered us through them and left a clear financial plan through to the next Westminster general election. At the heart of that has been much greater and earlier investment in this Parliament in our support for grassroots campaigning across the country – something we saw the benefits of in this May’s elections.
Thank you to Tony and best of luck to Mike.
Thank you also to Shelley Snelson, who served as Tony’s deputy, a pilot new post the FFRC has been trying out. Due to a change in her job, she is also standing down, and the FFRC will discuss later this year whether to continue, modify or wrap up the pilot.
Welcome also to Chris French, newly elected by the Board as one of the Vice Chairs of the Racial Diversity Campaign (RDC).Chris founded an LGBTQ+ charity and chairs a national one, as well as running a social enterprise consultancy. Best of luck Chris, and thank you for taking on the role.
A new package of online tools
Providing our grassroots campaigners across the party with the best online and data tools is an important part of being a successful campaign organisation in the 21st century. It’s also how we can ensure we continue to have a broad-based recovery in our political strength alongside the necessary focus on target seats as each polling day nears.
Our new website tool (Fleet), our new email tool (Targeted Email), our new events tools (Eventcube) and our new online donations tool are all being readied for local parties, and other parts of the party, to be able to start using later this year. These will include much better data integration, so that – for example – email address information flows smoothly between our different tools.
If you sign up for both by the 31st July 2022, then you’ll get the first three months free and 20% off the cost of the total package for the next year. More details of the pricing, migration plans and how to sign up are on the party’s technology blog. The events and donations tool will be free at the point of use, with their costs covered by taking a small cut from donations and ticket sales. Pricing for the other tools will be cheaper for smaller local parties and party bodies, helping make sure that all parts of the party can benefit from the best of our tools.
Autumn federal conference plans
Plans are progressing for our first in-person federal conference since 2019. It’ll be in Brighton on 17-20 September.
We are always looking for ways to make conferences accessible to more members. This year, members who cannot or do not wish to attend in person can still exercise their democratic right to vote on party policy. Details of how to register for this online only option will be available shortly. Simply buy a ticket for just £15, watch the auditorium live from the comfort of your own home and vote on any session alongside your fellow members in Brighton.
I’m particularly keen on this given the number of people who came to an online conference in the last two years who had never been able to make it to a physical event. Whether it’s for reasons of geography, money, time or other responsibilities, online events can involve people that in-person events can’t. It’s therefore important that we continue to use the online world as a way to give more members and supporters the opportunity to get involved with our party.
More details in Federal Conference Committee (FCC) Vice Chair Chris Adam’s piece for the party website and you can register for conference here.
June Board meeting
The key political element will be a review of our general election plans. There’s a huge range of plausible next election dates, all the way through to the last possible date in January 2025.
How many MPs we come out of the next election with will be the main measure of success for a first past the post general election. But we also need to ensure we continue the broader recovery in our political strength – and prosper in any local elections that may be on the same day.
It’s also the meeting at which we’ll decide on any proposals to put to the autumn conference for members to decide upon, such as coming out of the Federal People Development Committee (FPDC) work on updating our Code of Conduct for party members. We will be reviewing progress at implementing the recommendations from the reports into our complaints system that we received at our last meeting.
We’ll also be looking at making the two decisions that rest with the Board for our autumn internal elections – the timetable and expense limits. Those plans will then be implemented by the new Returning Officer post created under the election regulations passed at spring conference.
Making decisions on filling that post and also the vacancy on the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee (FASC) will round out the agenda.
As ever, if you have questions on any of this, or other party matters, do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do also get in touch if you’d like to invite me to do a Zoom call with your local party or party body. I’m always keen to do more of these as they’re a great way of hearing from the frontline what is and isn’t working.