The first set of official campaign emails from the three candidates for Lib Dem Party President has just been circulated to party members, a few hours after ballot papers started arriving. Or more accurately, to party members for whom the party has a working, opted-in email address, which actually means plenty of party members will miss out on them. So here they are in case you’re otherwise missing out.
In terms of content, I think the Daisy Cooper one has the best messages, especially given the way it weaves together her priorities and her personal history and experience into one message.
In terms of simple impact, however, Sal Brinton’s use of an email from Shirley Williams has the edge as Shirley is still extremely popular with party members. It also echoes the tactics of Sal Brinton’s leaflet in the ballot mailing, featuring a large photo and endorsement from Paddy Ashdown and a list of MPs backing her. (Wisely, in the light of Lib Dem Voice polls, MPs such as Lynne Featherstone and Steve Webb feature before Danny Alexander.) The risk is that this approach paints her as the establishment choice in a contest where that isn’t an asset, but it’s a very popular assortment of the establishment she’s lining up.
Liz Lynne, aside from some layout problems such as the signature appearing in the wrong place, seems by contrast to be eschewing pretty much all the endorsements she could use. That makes sense for positioning herself as the true outsider candidate (similar to how Linda Jack, before she pulled out, talked down rather than talked up her previous involvement in the party at the national level). Of course, Daisy Cooper is more the outsider, not having been an MP or MEP let alone both, but as she’s also starting off much less well known, her greater use of endorsements makes sense.
Anyway, here are the emails, with typos etc. intact from the originals.
Shirley Williams: Why I am supporting Sal Brinton for President
Dear Fellow Liberal Democrats,
We as a Party will be making a very important decision very soon. We will decide who is to be the new President of the Liberal Democrats.
I’ve known Sal Brinton for over 20 years, and have seen her working in every aspect of the party. She is an experienced campaigner and an excellent advocate for the Liberal Democrats and participating democracy. Her greatest strengths lie in listening to Party members, getting things done, and tackling difficult issues. She uses her experience as a former senior manager in business and as Bursar of a Cambridge College to make things happen.
For example after ten years mentoring and training women parliamentary candidates, Sal created the Leadership Programme to give women, BAME candidates, and other under-represented groups the skills they need to be selected and to fight in winnable Parliamentary seats on their own merits.
As a result of her hard work, five out of seven candidates who are standing in seats where our MPs are retiring are members of the Leadership Programme.
I urge you to give Sal your first preference vote.
Catherine Bearder MEP: A strong President by my side.
It is tough being the sole MEP representing our Party. In the next six months we will face the fight of our lives – and in the next two years we may have to fight to keep the UK in Europe. As we face the tasks ahead we are being asked to choose our new President to lead that fight.
We need a new, young face for the future – with passion and drive.
In a climate where euro-scepticism has become the vogue and in the fall out of the Scottish referendum, we need someone who will rally our members and rebuild our Party internally; someone who will help me re-establish our base for the European Parliament and who will lead our local revival to make sure that Liberal values continue to be heard – in Europe, local government and at Westminster.
For me, that is Daisy Cooper.
Daisy is passionate about the UK’s deep liberal roots. She talks with pride about our record on home rule, introducing the welfare state and delivering equal marriage. She understands where our Party comes from and where it needs to go.
Daisy is the independent voice we need.
She has already shown leadership in speaking up for what is right. Whether it’s calling for One Member One Vote in internal elections, holding our Party leadership to account, or calling out our disciplinary processes where they’ve been found wanting, Daisy has proved herself to be an independent voice for the members.
And Daisy is an internationalist.
At the Commonwealth Secretariat, she was the driving force behind budget and governance reforms that improved transparency on how tax-payers’ money was being used.
As Director of an independent Commonwealth think tank, she challenged countries as diverse as Sri Lanka and Canada on their human rights records. And drawing on this experience Daisy was an active member of the International Development Policy Working Group that wrote that section of our 2010 manifesto.
As the British public moves to decide Britain’s place in the world, I want them to know that it is the Liberal Democrats and our commitment to being in a reformed and more effective Europe, that is the best choice – the only choice – for our country’s future.
With Daisy at the helm, our Party will be the face of the future.
This is your vote. Your voice. Your President.
Please give Daisy your first preference vote.
Catherine Bearder MEP
Liz Lynne: A personal message from Liz Lynne
The last four years have been a rollercoaster for us all. Many of our key Liberal Democrat policies to promote a fairer society have become law. We have our first Cabinet members for generations helping to ensure that the economy has started to recover. With these successes have come some tough decisions, many of us have found some of these difficult to accept, and on occasions our party structures have been found wanting.
My path to become a Liberal Democrat started many years ago. My early life was difficult which taught me to speak up for those without a voice. The Liberal Democrats speak out for the people who struggle to be heard. We stand-up for tolerant, internationalist, decent liberal values and as your President I will ensure that we continue to do that.
I understand our party and have experienced it at every level. As an activist in London I fought my first Council election. Next, in the 80s I became a Parliamentary Candidate in the East of England with only a small team of helpers so I know what it’s like to fight and lose.
But I prefer to fight and win!
That’s what I did, with the help of a larger team I became an MP in Labour’s North West heartland. After Westminster, I was the first ever Liberal Democrat MEP in the West Midlands. I am proud to be a Liberal Democrat, to stand-up for our values and beat Labour, Tories and UKIP alike.
Now I am no longer in the European or Westminster Parliaments I can devote the time needed to visit local parties and meet our members. Indeed I have already been doing just that in Scotland, Wales and the English regions; out knocking on doors, speaking at fund-raisers, encouraging our Local and Parliamentary candidates. It was while I was “out and about” that members suggested I should stand for Party President.
I value my independence. I am not part of any particular group, I want our party to flourish and for all of us to have ownership of our party. My independence also means I can work with the Leader on behalf of all members and not just for the loudest voices.
This is a crucial year for us. Our immediate focus must be on the elections next May and getting the best possible Liberal Democrat result. Then, whatever the outcome, we will need to reflect and re-energise. I have the drive and experience to help our party do that. All party members must be involved in deciding our best way forward in becoming more democratic, transparent, accountable and effective.
We also need to communicate a strong, clear and distinctive Liberal Democrat case. As President I will also use my extensive media experience of appearing regularly on programmes like Newsnight and Question Time to do that.
Since I first joined our party we have achieved an incredible amount. Together we will continue to amaze and frustrate those who predict our demise. Our liberal values have never been needed more than they are today. As your President, I will work tirelessly to promote them and to move the party further forward. Please support me.