And that’s a wrap: LDN #166

Liberal Democrat Newswire #166 came out last week, including some reflections on the last Federal Board of this three year cycle, news of awards won by Lib Dem MPs and more.

You can now read it in full below, but if you’d like the convenience of getting it direct by email in future just sign up for it here.

I’ve got eight Lib Dem events coming up over the next three weekends, so am getting the November edition out a little earlier than usual.

I’d normally kick off talking about Ed Davey’s speech last weekend, organised to replace his autumn conference speech. But party members should already have had a detailed email from CEO Mike Dixon about that speech, the strategy behind it and its media impact. (If you’re a member and didn’t see it, drop me a line and I can help troubleshoot any problem with party emails not getting through to you.)

So rather than duplicate what’s in that, I’ll just add two things here. First, a link to the full text. Second, the run of local visits, media appearances and big speech from the Friday through to the Monday was deliberately done as a mini-election dry-run. There’s a batch of lessons to learn, both about what worked really well (the volume of media coverage in particular!) and also what didn’t work so well. One part of that is the communication to members of more detailed policy background than can fit in the text of a speech itself. There’s already progress on that, with three new explainers up on the party website, covering GP appointments, housing (both for those with mortgages and those who rent) and Ofwat. There’s more to do, so if you’ve got other feedback, do let me know.

Best wishes,


P.S. If you missed it, last time’s edition, “There’s a simple brutal fact about British politics” is available here.

And that’s a wrap…

Mark Pack on Zoom for a Federal Board meeting

Barring some unexpected political crisis that requires an emergency meeting, Monday night saw the last Liberal Democrat Federal Board meeting of this three year cycle.

It’s been a remarkable three years in all sorts of ways for the country and for our politics. It has also been really challenging for the party, trying to recover from the massive setback of the 2019 election and Brexit going ahead, and coping with the impact of COVID-19. I don’t think anyone would have taken seriously a prediction three years ago that the next Federal Party President would go through a full term without the party holding an in-person conference. Something we very much need to put right for the next term (and something I was reminded about by being at the Scottish conference in person just recently – so nice to be meeting colleagues in person once again).

It’s also, crucially, been a three years in which we’ve got the Liberal Democrats back on track, with more MPs, more Lib Dem controlled councils and more councillors. There’s plenty more to do, but we’re heading in the right direction.

Rather than the cuts we’ve seen so often in previous Parliaments, we’ve expanded the network of campaign staff supporting local parties across the country, invested heavily in improving our data and technology and started important new initiatives to raise our game on diversity and inclusion, including Project Stellar to support the next generation of parliamentary candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds.

We’ve also been implementing the Thornhill Review into the 2019 election and improving the way the party’s internal democratic systems work, including clearly separating the roles of Leader, CEO and President and conference voting by 71%-29% to introduce a new Board of 16 rather than the old one of 41.

We’re seeing the results come through in election results – with gains in both the rounds of local elections, that amazing trio of Parliamentary by-elections wins and the number of Lib Dem majority councils now back to where it was before the 2010 Coalition.

There have been plenty of difficult, even unwelcome, decisions necessary along the way, including cancelling federal party conference and making tough choices over what to prioritise funding for. As a result there have been many lively Board discussions, with some very strong exchanges of views. But all the way through it, even when people have disagreed, we’ve been able to keep our attention on making the strategic decisions and not trying to micromanage party staff.

It’s been great to see the improvement in how staff both view the party as a place to work and how they view working relations between staff and committee members. Volunteers and staff working together well, treating each other with respect, is how we are successful.

There are of course many people to thank given the great team effort over the last three years. I hope though people don’t mind me singling out two people in particular, Elaine Bagshaw and Jeremy Hargreaves, who have been the Board’s two vice chairs all through the three years, being joined more recently by Amna Ahmed.

I make it that Elaine and Jeremy have had close to 100 extra Zoom calls and meetings with me over the last three years, no minor commitment and always very valuable. Thank you both, and thank you everyone else too.

Elections are underway for the party’s federal committees, including for President, and I’m hoping to be re-elected for a second term. Voting closes at 5pm Tuesday, and any party members who haven’t had or can’t find their ballots should email elections@libdems.org.uk.

On which note, thank you to Young Liberals for their kind election endorsement, and here’s my election video…

A record of action and (yes) a promise of more - Dr. Mark Pack

View my full campaign playlist for other short videos covering what I fear most for the party, the importance of electoral reform and more. Or hit reply and ping me a question.

How did people hear about candidates in the May elections?

Interesting and useful data from the Electoral Commission in their report on the 2022 local elections:

“At the 2022 elections, people continued to receive information about candidates and parties from a range of different sources, and in a variety of formats.

“The most common ways people reported seeing information on parties and candidates were:

  • leaflet or flyer, either from a candidate / political party (49%) or another source (23%)

  • word of mouth / mentioned by friends / family / carer (12%)

  • social media (generic posts or adverts which did not seem targeted) (10%)

  • newspapers (10%)

  • posters or billboards (10%)

  • I talked to a candidate / candidates directly (10%)

“Older age groups (65+) were more likely than the youngest age group (18 to 24) to say that they had seen a leaflet or flyer from a candidate or political party, and to say that they had spoken to a candidate or political party. Younger age groups were more likely to mention seeing information on social media.”

A reminder of the continuing importance of leaflets, even this deep into the 21st century.

Double prize-winning Parliamentarians: Lib Dems in the news

Strip Gavin Williamson of his knighthood if found guilty of bullying says Wendy Chamberlain. Ed Davey told PoliticsHome, “I made my priority very clear and it is to beat Conservative MPs”. He’s also said it’s wrong for Mark Drakeford to go to the Qatar World Cup.

Jane Dodds also weighed in on the World Cup and the Welsh government’s plans to send people to it: “Why does the Welsh Government consider going to COP27 an inappropriate use of air miles on the one hand, yet they are ploughing ahead on an inappropriate trip to Qatar on the other hand?”

Lorely Burt is the party’s new equalities spokesperson in the House of Lords. Munira Wilson was a winner in the Ethnicity Awards 2022 and Alex Cole-Hamilton won the ‘Open All Hours’ Award from Holyrood Magazine.

Cllr Emily Davey has been talking to The Guardian on living with multiple sclerosis.

“Our first date was delivering Lib Dem election leaflets in the snow”: two Liberal Democrats have been talking to The Guardian.

PODCAST: Talking political polling

I recently appeared on the No Man’s Land podcast, which describes itself as a, “pod on politics and centrism, for those stuck between political trenches”. But rather than talk about whether or not the Liberal Democrats should aim to be centrist, we talked political polling.

Take a listen here.

🎧Find all the episodes of Never Mind The Bar Charts here and sign up for an email notification each time a new episode appears here.

📱 Follow Never Mind The Bar Charts on Twitter, give feedback and send in questions or ideas for future shows at @barchartpodcast.

The difference between Labour and the Lib Dems

In case you missed them first time, here are a selection of posts from my websites since last time:

The difference between Labour and the Lib Dems in three tweets.

Why I’m running for Party President.

Scottish Lib Dems target 150 seats at next council elections.

What is it with Conservatives in Surrey at the moment?

US midterms: candidate quality mattered.

Lib Dem local parties to receive monthly rather than quarterly payments from HQ.

Latest from The Week in Polls

Which polling question will matter most for the Prime Minister? Find out in the latest edition of my weekly polling round up, imaginatively titled The Week in Polls.

What the polls are saying

Latest general election voting intention opinion polls

To give the latest figures some context, here’s an up-to-date poll tracker graph:

Polling graph from Election Maps UK

And here are the issues that the public says are the most important to them:

Ipsos monthly issues tracker

If you’d like to know more about what the polls are saying, how they work and when to trust – or ignore – them, check out my book Polling UnPacked: the history, uses and abuses of political opinion polls or my new weekly round-up ‘The Week in Polls’.

Council by-elections round-up

It’s been an unusual set of Lib Dem results in the last three weeks with one gain but three losses in principal authority by-elections. There’s also been a near miss on a gain and an increase in candidate numbers. All three of those loses had their own tricky circumstances (a ward unexpectedly won due to an absence of other candidates, two Lib Dems in a ward standing down early and a nasty campaign involving attacks on a candidate’s religion).

I’ve also picked up reports of three Liberal Democrats being elected without a contest to town and parish councils. But those were topped by a fourth uncontested gain that gave the Lib Dems control of a town council. A reminder of why we need to stand more candidates.

Overall, Labour is starting to make some serious net gains from the Conservatives. In some ways, that’s not a surprise as that’s what the official opposition should do, but it’s been quite a while since Labour was last managing this. Lib Dems continue to be up, mostly thanks to gains from the Conservatives. Full details here.

Elsewhere, a councillor has left the Liberal Democrats in Eastbourne and one has been suspended in East Dunbartonshire.

To get the full council by-election results every week, sign up for my blog posts digest and to be prepared for a council by-election in your patch, see my 7-step guide to getting ready in advance.

Can you help?

Liberal Democrat Newswire is provided for free. Thank you so much to all the kind readers who donate to help cover its costs. It’s quick and easy to sign up for a small regular donation with your debit card using GoCardless:

Thank you! (Other donation options, including by PayPal or cheque, are here.)

Selection news

Parliamentary selections made public since last time include Dale Needham (East Yorkshire), Freddie Van Mierlo (Henley), Mike Martin (Tunbridge Wells), Helen Maguire (Epsom and Ewell) and Denis Healy (Beverley & Holderness), along with Rob Herd for the City of Chester by-election.

The party is always in need of more volunteer Returning Officers to help run these selections. Do you know someone who might suit this role?

See all the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) selected and announced so far here. If you’ve spotted a selection I’ve missed and which is public, by all means hit reply and let me know.

And finally…

Tom Peck bundled up the madness that is so much of British politics recently with this killer statistic.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, why not forward to a friend or let them know they can sign-up here for future editions?

Thank you and best wishes,


Parts of this newsletter are promoted and published on behalf of Mark Pack by Pete Dollimore, both at 96 Uxbridge Road, Hayes, UB4 0JH. Printed (dispatched) by MailChimp, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Suite 5000, Atlanta, GA 30308 USA.

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