Our plan for the final stages of this Parliament: LDN #170

Liberal Democrat Newswire #170 came out last week, looking back to the party’s York Conference, reporting on the party’s plans for the run-up to the general election 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.

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Thank you to lovely reader Peter who donated in my annual appeal and was the lucky winner of a copy of 101 Ways To Win An Election.

Plus a bit of party news that I know a lot of readers will like: the policy section of the party website has had an overhaul and is now much expanded. Do let me know what you think of it; very happy to pass on feedback.

Finally before we get to this time’s edition, your occasional reminder: with my party president hat on, I regularly send letters either to mark happy events like a member turning 100 or to sympathise on occasions such as a member passing away. If there’s someone in your local party or party body who you think would appreciate a letter of thanks or sympathy, by all means let me know on president@libdems.org.uk. Do also drop me an email on that address if you’d like to book in a talk and Q+A, either on Zoom or in person.

Best wishes,


P.S. If you missed it, last time’s edition, What’s the secret behind building lots of houses and winning lots of elections?, is here.

Mark Pack on stage at Lib Dem conference

Latest sign of the brazen crime wave sweeping the nation: someone nicked the lectern from under my notes mid-speech at conference.

Something rare happened during Ed Davey’s conference speech

It was a return, at last, to in-person federal conferences for the Liberal Democrats this month. Meeting in York, we agreed policy on an important range of areas, including reaffirming the party’s multilateralist stance, setting out a better alternative to the government’s small boats legislation and agreeing a Guaranteed Basic Income policy to reform our welfare system.

It ended with Ed Davey’s speech, and a rare – very rare, in fact – mid-speech standing ovation. Read his speech, including the section on Europe which triggered that response, here.

Our plan for the final stages of this Parliament

Here’s my latest report for Liberal Democrat members and supporters, from the party website:

It was lovely catching up again with many members in person at our York conference and thank you to everyone who safely voted through the proposals the Board put to conference, including our new Code of Conduct and improvements to our constitution.

Winning more power

Presenting the Board report, I talked about how, as we enter the final phase of this Parliament, there are two overriding aims for the Liberal Democrats: win more council seats and elect more MPs.

We’ll best do this by concentrating on the issues that matter most to voters. But by doing this we will also get great Liberal Democrats elected and re-elected, who will then use political power to achieve a much broader range of liberal ends. People who can use power to help secure a fair deal for our citizens and our communities.

We have a brilliant opportunity to take the next big step at the May elections, as I wrote about last time.

The closer we get to the Westminster general election, the greater the focus becomes on our held and target Parliamentary seats. That is to the whole party’s benefit, as the better our general election result, the better we can win elections at other levels too.

The number of MPs we have is particularly important for our national profile because it sets so much of what happens to us, from how often a Lib Dem MP gets to ask a question at PMQs, through to how often there is a Lib Dem on political panel on TV, our presence in the regional media and even how many commercial organisations pay up to exhibit at our conferences.

The more MPs we have, the higher our media profile, the stronger our finances and the better we do everywhere. Winning a Blue Wall constituency off the Conservatives will help us win Labour council seats in the Red Wall.

Our balancing act

Electing more MPs at the next general election is not enough for success on its own. Which is why the closer we get to that election, and the greater the pull of attention on our held and target seats, the more important the role of President and the Federal Board become in balancing that short-term imperative against the broader, longer-term work we need to continue for sustained success.

We need to continue to win council seats elsewhere, including in Labour and nationalist facing areas. We need to continue to have a network of campaign support staff helping local parties at all levels of electoral success. We need to continue to up our game on diversity and inclusion. We need to continue a long-term commitment to investing in better data and technology.

It is going to be a tricky balance to get right, and the best way to do that is to be upfront about the balancing act required.

If we can get it right, the biggest prize at stake is a strong enough voice in Parliament to secure electoral reform for the House of Commons.

That’s the route to permanently changing British politics for the better – and it’s the route to sustained, closer relations with Europe too. Because other European states can read our electoral statistics just as well as we can. They can see that the Conservatives win two general elections out of three under first past the post – and they know therefore the risk to any future agreements with pro-European British governments being undone by the next Conservative one.

Our need for more candidates

If that is the big prize at stake, the most immediate need is for us to stand more candidates in the May local elections. Last time, both Labour and the Conservatives stood considerably more candidates than us – and that gets reflected in how the media sees us. Missing a Liberal Democrat on the ballot paper also forces people to vote for someone else – breaking the habit of voting regularly for us that we need more of, not less of.

A mini-campaign pack has gone out to local parties about how to find more candidates for this May. If you live or work somewhere with elections yourself, please do think about offering to help get the Lib Dem name on more ballot papers this time.

Preparing for the general election… helping people win in May

General election campaigns are unusual beasts and, given our typical staff turnover, it’s always a challenge to have a good mix of experience in a general election team. Which is why the party already developing detailed general election plans, with a recent full awayday for senior staff to check on progress.

It’s also why this May’s local elections are being used in many ways as a dry run for a general election – good for boosting this May’s results and good for preparing for the general election.

One part of that is a daily Zoom surgery with the Compliance team so people can easily get help on the day they need it. Drop a line to compliance@libdems.org.uk for more details.

Congratulations to our amazing award winners

Our spring federal conference in York included our latest party awards, with four brilliant people winning this time. Read about them and their achievements in the special story here.

Manifesto consultation

Dick Newby, chair of our general election manifesto working group emailed party members earlier this month inviting everyone to help shape our manifesto.

As Dick wrote, “We will be bringing a pre-Manifesto document to Autumn Conference this year, which will give attendees the chance to discuss the key policy pledges we want to include in the Manifesto itself. But we understand that not everybody can attend Conference, so we want to give every Member and Supporter in our party the opportunity to have their voice heard.”

As well as that survey, his email included news of seven online consultation events coming up.

(If you don’t recall getting the email, search for “Help us shape our future policy and manifesto ahead of the next General Election” in your email folders, or otherwise drop a line to help@libdems.org.uk to check the email address and opt in status on your membership record.)

Welcome to new committee colleagues

The Federal Board has elected or appointed:

  • Helena Cole, Oliver Forder, Robert Laurence, Lucas North and Matthew Taylor to the Federal Finance & Resources Committee (FFRC)

  • Christopher Hudson, Rob Verity, Ellie Hudspith, Claire Hudson and Thom Campion to the Federal People Development Committee (FPDC)

  • Elsie Gisslegård, Matthew Green, Simon Marlow and David Radcliffe to the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee (FASC)

  • Chris French (chair) and Samantha Young (vice chair) to the Racial Diversity Campaign (RDC)

  • Candy Piercy (chair), Julia Cambridge (vice chair) and Vikki Slade (vice chair) to the Campaign for Gender Balance (CGB)

Claire Hudson has then been elected by FPDC members to chair that committee, and so also become a member of the Federal Board. Dave Radcliffe has also been elected by FASC members to chair that committee, and so also become a member of the Federal Council.

Thank you to everyone who put their names forward for these posts, and best of luck to those who will be serving in these roles for the next three years.

Equality, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter

The first edition of our new quarterly EEDI newsletter, dedicated to highlighting our work to improve diversity and inclusion in the Liberal Democrats and sharing information, went out in early March.

As with the new monthly round up of the work of our Parliamentarians, it’s part of our work to improve internal communications.

If you’re a party member and didn’t receive one or both of these, just let help@libdems.org.uk know and they can check the email address and opt ins/opt outs the party has for you.

We have also just secured continued funding from a generous donor for our Project Stellar scheme to support the next generation of candidates from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds. This is an important programme to ensure that we sustained and meaningful change both in our party and as a result in Westminster too.

Internal election review

We’ve also appointed Nick Manners to conduct the review of our 2022 internal elections for federal party posts, and that his review will include also the previous Vice President by-election. Watch out for news in due course on how to submit your views to the review.

As ever, if you have questions on any of this, or other party matters, do get in touch on president@libdems.org.uk. Do also get in touch if you’d like to invite me to do a Zoom call with your local party or party body.

PODCAST: How to tackle the corrosion of trust in our politics

Find out the answer to that… and speculate on what Tim Harford and Matt Forde would be like as MPs with the latest episode of Never Mind The Bar Charts.

🎧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.

Local election campaign launch: Lib Dems in the news

BBC News report on Lib Dem election launch

Cheesy photo op is a go: yes, it’s been the Lib Dem local election campaign launch. Featuring a tractor and a good round of media coverage about the opportunity there is to make significant gains against the Conservatives. (As ever with such coverage, it’s worth remembering that what gets in the media is what interests the media. Gains from other parties matter too but aren’t as newsworthy at the moment.)

Daisy Cooper was quite brilliant at expressing our collective anger at Boris Johnson’s excuses and has called for Steve Brine to stand down from the health select committee. Layla Moran has written about support for Ukraine.

Ed Davey used his recent PMQ opportunity to highlight the government’s failures on the NHS while he’s been in the media talking about the need for more help with energy bills and to tackle crime. He’s also called for the BBC’s chair to resign and attacking the Shell CEO’s pay.

Sarah Olney is not impressed with Jeremy Hunt’s budget. Tim Farron is on the case about bathing water quality, and of course Liberal Democrat MPs keep on raising sewage in the House of Commons.

Wendy Chamberlain is calling for major changes in the police after the Casey Report. She has also been speaking up for Afghan refugees with Alistair Carmichael speaking out against the government’s small boats bill.

Daisy Cooper has been picked as ‘one to watch’ in Politics Home’s annual celebration of inspirational and influential women in Westminster.

Jane Dodds has been in the news over the state of dentistry in Wales and used the Welsh conference to call for a more generous society.

Lib Dem run Somerset Council launched a new ‘Education for Life’ strategy and there’s good news on expanding solar power in Lib Dem run Vale of White Horse. Over in Portsmouth, the council is buying back former council housing to expand the supply of affordable housing. (For more on how Lib Dem councils are increasing housing supply, take a listen to my podcast with Eastleigh leader Keith House.)

A Lib Dem councillor in Haringey has been raising money for victims of the Turkish earthquake.

A new Lib Dem office has been opened in Dominic Raab’s constituency.

Ed Davey: From children fleeing the horrors of Nazi Germany, to people fleeing Putin's war today - our country has proud history of giving sanctuary to those fleeing war and violence.  The Conservatives are trashing that legacy. Shame on them.

Public isn’t happy with state of the NHS

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

Satisfaction with the NHS falls to lowest level since records began in 1983.

New data shows support for reform of both Houses of Commons and Lords.

Are Lib Dems really the most opposed to more money being spent on potholes?

So that’s why I have so many potholes to report.

Town councillors unanimously back no confidence vote in David Warburton MP.

Cllr Nick Gregory changes party, yet again.

Thank you, Keith Aspden,

Mark Pack speaking in Tunbridge Wells

One of my recent Lib Dem talks, this time with pizza in Tunbridge Wells. Hit reply and let me know if you’d like me to do one in your patch.

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

I also write a weekly round-up of political polling, The Week in Polls. Recent stories include:

Council by-elections round-up

With the May election nearing, it’s been a relatively quiet month for by-elections. But with one spectacular exception – Fiona Bennett’s gain from the SNP in Edinburgh. A Lib Dem seat in South Cambridgeshire was also held and followed by good news on the Parliamentary front. It was also good to see how many contests saw Lib Dem candidates, but there’s more to do to raise candidate numbers.

Overall, the picture since May now is of a net +18 Lib Dem gains, catching up on Labour’s +223and well ahead of the Green’s +8. The Conservatives are down on -43.

Elsewhere, a former Labour councillor has joined the Lib Dems in Cumberland, two Labour councillors in Luton, a Conservative councillor in Winchester and independent councillors in Boston and Skegness, Spelthorne and Suffolk. But the party has lost a councillor in East Cambridgeshire and in Vale of White Horse.

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

Selections made public since last time include Helen Campbell (Hertford and Stortford), Steve Darling (Torbay), Marie Goldman (Chelmsford), Emma Matanle (Hertsmere), Shaffaq Mohammed (Sheffield Hallam), Tessa Munt (Wells), Anja Schaefer (Buckingham) and Simon Thorley (Darlington).

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…

Make smart clothing choices when pointing at a pothole.

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,


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