Already three out of four Lib Dem President candidates back ‘Organiser Programme’ idea

Well, this is rather good.

Last week I blogged about why an ‘Organiser Programme’ to accompany the existing Liberal Democrat Leadership Programme for Parliamentary candidates is needed:

Candidates only get elected in tandem with great organisers and there are far too few new stars coming through. Most (though not all – there are some fabulous exceptions!) of the best election results have been secured by people who learnt their trade literally in the last century.

We need more new talent coming through – and a similar Organiser Programme to nurture the most talented newcomers.

More on that idea here.

Already three of the four people in the running to be the next Liberal Democrat President, and so chair of the Party’s Federal Executive, have backed the idea of an Organiser Programme:

Daisy Cooper: “In short: YES absolutely but it doesn’t go far enough: I’d like something a lot more ambitious. Longer answer: Elsewhere, I’ve written about the need for us to embrace and develop political leadership in all parts of the party. Naturally this includes organisers – where they exist / are employed – but if we’re serious about a Liberal Revival (which I am) we must nurture leadership wherever we find it, including in “black holes.” If members with leadership talents want to become organisers, researchers, local party chairs, membership officers, “canvass captains”, advocates for the party’s cause in the business, charity or other sector, as well as standing as Cllrs & PPCs, we must value and support them all in a more structured way.

“My proposal (which I’d want to develop with a team of our finest minds & finest campaigners & which would obviously have to go to Conference for adoption), would draw on a scheme established by our South African sister party, the Democratic Alliance. The DA’s scheme – part leadership academy and part social network – recruit new members from under-represented communities, provide 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. It includes an active alumni network too – a network of campaigners, donors, party officers, staff, and elected representatives who all understand and respect the important roles that each of them play.

“We should draw on the experience of this successful scheme. From here, existing and new party members can learn experientially (“by doing”), decide which role(s) they’d like to pursue in the party and be supported to achieve it. I’d like to know your thoughts on this.”

Liz Lynne: “I agree with you Mark that it is something we have to explore but we must make sure that we take it forward in the right way. I know from personal experience how important a good organiser is. Quite often but not exclusively they are the ones who have had a wealth of experience over a number of years. You are quite right to say that they can be either volunteers or staff members. When I say that it has to be taken forward in the right way, I mean that any training that is put in place has to be with the input of people who have been successful organisers themselves over the years. We can a learn a lot from training manuals but nothing can replace hands on experience. We have so many experienced organisers that perhaps do not want to take on the role themselves any more but could be utilised in a mentoring role. I am launching the Network of Experience in January next year to try and retain the experience that people have gained from elected office but this sounds like something that would be equally useful and I would be delighted to work with anyone who wants to explore the possibility of setting it up.”

Sal Brinton: “Absolutely agree, Mark Pack, this isn’t a recent problem and was very evident in the run up to 2010 with too many young organisers feeling isolated from HQ, and not having a real understanding of the partnership we need between the organiser and the candidate. If we can mentor candidates (as we have through the Leadership Programme, Campaign for Gender Balance and EMLD) we must also support and mentor organisers too, so let’s make a programme to do it (not just going on training!) as important – candidates can’t win on their own – we need the expertise of organisers to make it happen. That way we can all win.”

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