Continuing my series of guest posts from candidates to succeed Tim Farron as Liberal Democrat President (of whom there are now three, after Linda Jack dropped out), here is Liz Lynne setting out her priorities for the first months in the job.
What I will do as President from January to May – Liz Lynne
My first job as President of the Liberal Democrats, apart from ensuring all aspects of Morrissey have been acted upon, is to enthuse the party membership and to make sure that we get as many MPs and councillors elected.
The President has to take a lead role in visiting as many constituencies as possible not only to make sure that every area of the country feels valued but also to get out on the doorstep with activists in order to pick up on any problems that can be addressed.
Targeting is essential of course but we must remember that apart from held Parliamentary seats and council seats that there are vast areas where we have little representation. If we do not enthuse and value the Liberal Democrats in those areas I fear that if we have a bad result in May we will have fewer committed members to help to rebuild the party afterwards.
We have to return to our core values. I am not against reaching targets but we must never forget why we want to get elected.
Having power for the sake of power is meaningless and is against our great Liberal Democrat traditions. Most Liberal Democrats I know want to be a force for changing things for people in their constituencies, working with local communities, raising the issues that they are concerned about.
That is why we have been so successful in the past because we have known at gut level what community politics is really about. It is not about ticking boxes, it is about standing up for people who don’t have a voice.
National messages are fine but they have to be coordinated with the key local messages, working with councillors and activists on the ground and with ALDC.
Many members feel that they are slaving away in the country for the Liberal Democrats and that they get no recognition whatsoever for the contribution they are making. It is the same when someone has been good enough to put themselves forward as a by-election candidate in an unwinnable seat in order to fly the flag for the party and then get little or no support nationally. That will have to change. I am not recommending that our front bench team give that support but we not only have a number of back bench MPs we also have an enormous amount of Peers who can be utilised.
We also need a structure put in place so that groups of peers would be asked to adopt a region and be responsible for providing the support to those areas, particularly in the places where we have very few or no elected representatives.
So my first priority will have to be the elections next year. I intend to write about how I think the party should be reformed in a further post.