Daisy Cooper: what the Lib Dems can learn from South African politics

Continuing my series of guests posts from candidates for Liberal Democrat President, today it’s the final one in this week’s series from Daisy Cooper talking about her priorities.

Daisy Cooper: Rebuild and relaunch with an inclusive Leadership Scheme

After May, we must launch an ambitious national scheme to recruit members in such numbers that we will within 20 years wipe out all ‘black-holes’, be as diverse as the UK, and re-build our local government base and membership from community level up.

An inclusive Leadership Scheme could potentially help solve three inter-related challenges:

  1. the structural problem of an ageing membership,
  2. the fact that we are often too quick to encourage talented members to stand for election as councillors or PPCs and, if they don’t succeed, they can become disheartened and burnt out (and that we appear to value less the contribution they can make in different ways), and
  3. we now have a lot of younger members of staff who have buckets of enthusiasm but may not understand the challenges of non-target seats ‘on the ground’.

As President, I would want to launch an ambitious scheme to engage with new people and communities across the UK. We would promote ourselves as the natural home for anyone who wants to transform their community or change the world. We should embrace new people, and be an incubator for new ideas.

We should work together to launch a new Liberal Compact – a vision for the UK rooted in our values. Saying what we want to achieve in the next 5 years is necessary but not sufficient – we must engage people in a conversation about what it means to be a liberal democrat – small l, small d – in the 21st century, and engage them in the political journey to delivering it.

We can learn from our South African sister party, the Democratic Alliance, which has established a scheme, part leadership academy and part social network – to which they recruit new members from marginalised communities, providing mentoring and support for them to become political leaders at every level, whether in the party, in their community or through their professional life. The network has established a formal system of mentoring and support. We should draw on the experience of this successful scheme.


Also on this site are her previous posts:

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