Turning our policies into practical action
Here’s my latest report for Liberal Democrat members and supporters. These reports also appear on the party website.
Getting council housing built
Congratulations to the Liberal Democrat team on Kingston Council who have just celebrated the completion of the first set of council flats for over 30 years in the area.
It’s another sign of how Liberal Democrat councils can both build high quality homes in the right places, and win elections – by turning our policies into practical actions to improve people’s lives.
I know we have all been moved by the horrific news from the Middle East in the last few weeks. The bedrock of the Liberal Democrat approach is support for international law and for a two-state solution, as set out in our previous conference motion and in Layla Moran’s moving interview to Newsnight. There’s also more on this in the latest piece from Ed Davey on the party website, calling for an immediate bilateral ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.
In all our comments and campaigning it’s important that we continue to hold close to our liberal values, that we don’t seek to stoke up division or hatred, and that protests are not used as a shield to allow antisemitism, Islamophobia or any type of hatred.
The party has a range of support services available to help members or staff who are finding any of the issues particularly difficult.
Are you using WhatsApp locally?
One of the crucial parts of my role as President is being in touch with what members are saying all around the country (and overseas too). It’s been noticeable in the last year how much of the online conversation among members and supporters in local parties has moved away from (semi-)public social media, for example away from Facebook and X/Twitter and often moving to WhatsApp (and to a much lesser extent Slack).
If WhatsApp plays a big role in your local party’s chatter, and you wouldn’t mind an outsider being in your group so I can better see the temperature of members around the party, it’d be great if you can add me to your relevant group. You can either message me the join link on firstname.lastname@example.org or ask for my mobile number to add. Thank you.
Our elections committee (FCEC) has started looking at more detail for our support plans for non-target seats at the next general election. The workings of first past the post make our target seat results the dominating difference between success and failure. But general elections are still important opportunities for everyone else too – to build up the local party to help win more elections at other levels in the future, to create new target seats – and to mobile help to get the nearest target seat over the line too.
Huge thanks to Emma for being our candidate and everyone else who helped in Mid Bedfordshire. A feedback survey has gone out to everyone who helped. If that includes you, please do share your experiences. Continually learning from people’s experiences at the coalface of our campaigning is an important part of getting things right.
Learning from each other
I’ve recently been to both the Welsh and Scottish Liberal Democrat conferences in person. As well as being great to catch up with colleagues in person, it was also great to see the number of innovations being tried out – and successfully! Ideas such as the mini-motions debate format at Scottish conference are ones that I’m sure the rest of the party can learn from, including for regional conferences in England and perhaps also for our federal conferences too.
One of the strengths of our federal and decentralised structure is the innovation that comes from variation, and the ability for good ideas to copied and spread. Many things that we now think of as a standard part of how the federal party operates, for example, have come first from other parts of the party.
General election agent training
We’ve made a big change about our support and training for general election agents. For the next election, every agent must have been through – and passed! – a one or two day training course.
It’s a commitment the regulator, the Electoral Commission, will hold us to. Which means we have to enforce it fully. But it’s also a great thing to do – ensuring that every agent is properly supported and able to do their important task by having had the right training.
If you’re involved with running your local party, please make sure that at least one person has or is being trained up to agent the seat or seats it covers.
If you need details of the dates for training, drop a line to email@example.com.
New digital imprint rules in force
From 1 November, new UK-wide rules on imprints for digital campaigning came into force, supplementing the rules previously in force in Scotland.
The rules cover all local, regional and state parties and affiliated organisations, as well as elected office-holders, candidates and future candidates.
A guidance note has been sent out through our usual channels for campaign news and is also online here.
Internal elections review
As part of the review into our 2022 internal elections – which was held off to allow for the completion first of appeals resulting from it – candidates and people who were members at the time of the elections have been emailed a feedback survey. The email came from Nick Manners, who is heading up the review, and the deadline for responses to the survey is 10 December.
Nick Beckett has joined our Federal Finance and Resources Committee (FFRC) as part of him taking up the role of Welsh Party Treasurer. Many thanks to his predecessor, David Collington, for all his hard work in the role and good luck, Nick.
Meanwhile, Alex Wagner has stood down from Federal Conference Committee (FCC) and the votes have been recounted to elect Paul McGary in his place. Thank you for your service on FCC Alex, and good luck continuing our stunning run of by-election wins in Shropshire, as well as helping get Helen Morgan re-elected. Paul was previously the Scottish representative on FCC and so that slot is now filled by Fraser Graham, pending the outcome of the current Scottish Party elections.
One other change since last time: Edward Sainsbury has replaced Anton Georgiou on the Federal Council.
Have questions on this report, or other party matters? Then please drop me a line 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.