What would it be like?

I know it’s tempting fate and that I shouldn’t really, but this week I have not been able to resist the temptation to think what life might be like if I were to win the Presidency.

So I decided to think what a week might be like in this possible future, combining my job as MP with the job of President.

I hope you enjoy this reading about this imaginary week as much as I did thinking about it – I think it looks like fun.

MONDAY: This week would have started with a flight to Westminster after a weekend of surgeries and constituency visits, before questions to the Foreign Secretary in the House and a statement by the Prime Minister on Brexit.

After dinner it was straight across to HQ for a phone conference with Lib Dem’s for Seekers of Sanctuary over suggested amendments to the Immigration Bill.

Then it was straight to chairing the Federal Board and agreeing the latest reforms to expand our base and develop a winning strategy.

TUESDAY: Slightly quieter. I had organised a Facebook members’ surgery for 10am so I had time to catch up on emails and paperwork before Shadow Cabinet at 4pm. There I was able to feed in the views from both the Board the night before and the feedback from the Facebook members’ surgery.

Several of our spokespeople are working on areas where they had questions about what the membership’s views might be and whether there were specific groups they could speak to and sound out on specific ideas.

While we waited to vote I had dinner with Jo and Ed and chatted through suggestions from various Party groups about how we should be looking to amend the Immigration Bill.

Some of the ideas were more difficult to sell to them than others but I think we now have proposals that will be well received at conference.

WEDNESDAY: The main event of the day was the PMQ panel of MPs on Sky News where I was able to put the party’s views on various issues.

It was pretty quiet in the afternoon – more paperwork and diary organisation – before heading to Abingdon to speak as the headline guest at an OxWab fundraiser.

I couldn’t stay too late though because there was a council by-election the next day in Southwark and I wanted to be up early to join in with “good morning” leafletting.

THURSDAY: The team in Southwark were in excellent spirits, with a big team out for polling day. I caught the train to Leeds in the afternoon to record that evening’s Question Time. Fiona Bruce was keen to hear how the members felt about their new leadership team going into a potential general election. Afterwards, straight back to Edinburgh. The journeys are excellent for sending emails and WhatsApps to members to move conversations forward.

FRIDAY: The morning was all constituency issues after celebrating the wonderful victory in Southwark. TV cameras came to the office with journalists wanting to know what this will mean for our election plans. I was able to tell them with confidence that the plans developed by the Federal Campaigns Committee and our brilliant team in HQ are fully in place!

There was also a call from the Securities Minister who wanted to know what our views would be on some legislation being introduced next week. I gave the Tory Security Minister short shrift. I know Party members would approve.

Friday afternoons we always have a little treat in the office at the end of the day once we’ve finished our surgeries and our teams are fully prepared for the weekend’s canvassing.

WEEKEND: After Saturday morning canvassing, I nipped down to Durham to enjoy their annual dinner. Sunday was taken up with calling some of our target seat candidates, SAO teams and Regional Chairs to check in on how they are doing and what they need.

What a week that would be. I would love it to come true.

The best campaigns are built on personal stories

Our experience has taught us that the best campaigns are built on personal stories.

They give an emotional and personal connection beyond cold, hard facts.

So to help our campaign to stop Brexit succeed, we have a very specific request.

Can you tell us how Brexit is personally affecting you and your family?

We want to hear from you if: your medication has already been delayed; you’re a business owner, worried about supply chains or staffing or you work in the NHS and you’re worried of the impact on patient care… to name but a few!

So, will you share your story?

How is Brexit affecting you

We may want to use your stories at events, in our literature and online – please do indicate which ones you’d be comfortable with on the page.

Remember, the most impactful stories are those that are personal – those aspects of Brexit that will directly affect you and your family – not opinions and views, so please bear this in mind when making your submission.

Thank you for all you do.

Why get a postal vote?

Parliament is in deadlock and we are preparing for a GE to be held soon. The Liberal Democrats will go into any election campaigning to win, fighting for our place in the European Union, where we can work internationally to tackle the Climate Emergency.

Help us make that happen.

Be ready to vote for the Lib Dems by registering for a postal vote now.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have proved they are not fit for office. Now is the time for Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats to take centre stage.

Organising a postal vote is a brilliant way of supporting us, it means your vote can be cast in advance of polling day in your own time.

It means that if you are campaigning with us on polling day, you know your vote is already in the bag.

And even if you aren’t, it means that our campaigners have one less door to knock on on polling day.

After every election I speak to people who planned to vote but couldn’t in the end because something came up on the day – they got ill or were away unexpectedly. But when the country is teetering on the brink of another General Election, I don’t want you to miss out.

The next general election will dictate the course of our country, at a chaotic and busy time, it is important to make sure your vote is counted.

We are expected to make significant gains across the country as we build on our recent electoral success. Having made strides in the local and European elections, we continue to stand up for an open, inclusive and progressive UK in the upcoming General Election.

You can be part of this movement to bring liberal values back to British politics.

Simply fill in the formand send it to your local council to be added to the postal vote list.

Get your postal vote

Thank you!

What’s the role of Party President?

Probably the most common question I’ve had so far in this campaign is ‘what’s the role of President?’ It’s an important question because it gets to the heart of what we need to do to be more successful in our ambition to build a fair, free and open society, as it says in our constitution.

One part of the role – being the voice of the grassroots in the room with the party leadership – is one all previous Presidents have taken seriously. But what else they do with the role has varied depending on the circumstances.

Right now, with a new party leader, a new deputy leader and a growing Parliamentary Party, it would be a missed opportunity to see the role of President as another media spokesperson for the party. In our MPs, Peers and our excellent cadre of PPCs we have a great team of those already – and we need them to get all the coverage they can.

THE WORLD OUTSIDE WESTMINSTER

What the President can do, however, is what MPs and Peers cannot. Be one step back from the Westminster bubble. Be one step back from the 24-hour news cycle.

A President who is not a member of Parliamentary will be more able to remain focused on the party’s strategy and organisation. They will be able to work with the Chief Executive so that we give our Parliamentarians and everyone else in the party the best possible support.

WINNING AT ALL LEVELS

Remember, building a fair, free and open society isn’t just about Parliament. It is also about wherever Liberal Democrats can be elected to office. Liberal Democrats have a long and proud tradition of leading in local government, and in our devolved governments, and the President needs to focus on their success too.

We need to win bigger in local government, in Mayoral and Police & Crime Commissioner elections, in the devolved Parliaments and Assemblies, and in European elections, as well as in Westminster.

THE RIGHT FOCUS

What the President can do is always make sure we remember that: the bigger picture, the longer-term picture, one step away from intense pressures of the Palace of Westminster.

That will be my focus. If you elect me, this will be my only role in the party.

I’ll be absolutely dedicated to getting our organisation and strategy right to support everyone from Jo through to our newest supporter. That way, we’ll win more power and make our country more liberal and democratic.

You can find out more about my five-point plan for transforming the party into a consistently winning force, and my track record of securing change within the party at www.markpack.org.uk/president.

Candidates standing for the Federal Conference Committee

If you submit this form, the Liberal Democrats, locally and nationally, may use the information submitted, including your political views, to further our objectives, share it with our elected representatives and contact you in future using any of the means provided. Some contacts may be automated. You may opt out of some or all contacts or exercise your other legal rights by contacting us. Further details are in our Privacy Policy at www.libdems.org.uk/privacy

The Candidates standing for Federal Board

If you submit this form, the Liberal Democrats, locally and nationally, may use the information submitted, including your political views, to further our objectives, share it with our elected representatives and contact you in future using any of the means provided. Some contacts may be automated. You may opt out of some or all contacts or exercise your other legal rights by contacting us. Further details are in our Privacy Policy at www.libdems.org.uk/privacy

We need to step up, urgently

I’m the son of immigrants, one parent from Germany, the other from Poland. My own family history is in miniature the troubled history of Europe in the previous two centuries, scarred by the horrors of extremism, despotism and war – and then my parents making a new home together in our country.

It’s why for me our liberal democracy, despite all its many flaws, is so precious. We need to step up to protect against the extremists and populists.

To do that, we need to build a grassroots liberal movement, mobilising those millions who share our values. With such a movement we can continue our successes this year in taking more power – the legal, legitimate way – through campaigning and through winning elections.

Winning elections at every level gives us more of that precious political power to stop Brexit, to protect our planet, to heal the divisions in our society and to meet the needs of our local communities.

That’s why winning is so important – and that’s why I’ve put helping you win at the heart of my pitch to be your next President.

The key task for the next President is to ensure we have the right strategy and the right organisation to win, bigger and better than ever before – in local government, in the London Assembly, in the Welsh and Scottish governments, in Westminster and in future European elections too.

That’s a task well-suited to my record and my skills:

  • Creating with David Howarth the core votes strategy that has underpinned our recovery since 2015
  • Co-author of the party’s handbook for general election agents
  • Successfully championing a new registered supporter scheme, now in place, growing and successful
  • Supporting the group doing the hard graft on important reforms to our disciplinary process, getting an improved, streamlined and independent system in place
  • Working with colleagues to introduce gender-balanced selection rules when the London Assembly was created, ensuring we took positive steps to improve our diversity
  • Always listening to and informing members, running the best-read Liberal Democrat website outside HQ and sending nearly 2 million emails in the last year alone to keep supporters informed about what the party is doing, why it is doing it – and how to get involved in influencing it
  • And many other examples, based on my detailed knowledge and long experience of how the party works

It is, to borrow one of our favourite phrases, a record of action… and a promise of more.

Previous Presidents have varied how they do the job depending on the needs of the time. Right now, we’ve got a brilliant new leader, deputy leader, a growing Parliamentary Party and soon, fingers crossed, a great new generation of MPs too.

So the best use of the role of President isn’t to duplicate their media and public efforts. Rather, it is to support them, getting the strategy and organisation right to give them – and the rest of the party – the very best chances to succeed.

The President definitely needs to be wheeled out in the media to take the flack when things go wrong. I’ve got plenty of experience of surviving trial by media, whether it was Channel 4 grilling me over a Lib Dem minister up on police charges, the early morning rigours of doing Radio 4’s Today programme, getting interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight or surviving the questioning of Andrew Neill on the BBC.

Understanding how to handle a crisis is also what I do professionally, advising everyone from small charities through to large international companies not only on how to get the media strategy right but also how to get all those other key parts of crisis handling right, such as internal communications.

What I can also be is a President who keeps us focused on what will bring long-term success for us in elections at all levels.

Our federal party HQ, understandably, gets drawn in to focusing tightly on the next Westminster general election. But for success we need to think broader – remembering all those other elections and campaigns which matter too – and we need to think longer-term – remembering that there will be general election after the next one too.

That’s what we most need from our next President. A relentless focus on getting our strategy and organisation right to succeed at all levels, tomorrow and in the long-run.

That’s what I can offer. If you elect me, I’ll switch to working part-time and this will be my only role in the party. My task will be a very clear: to help you win.

With your support, we’ll be able to achieve so much more together.

Thank you and best wishes,

Mark

P.S. If you agree with this vision for our party and for our next President, please sign up to support my campaign at markpack.org.uk/president.

Hear from Christine Jardine

Waiting for the outcome of the nomination count for Party President felt a wee bit like that scene from The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon explains about Schrodinger’s Cat.

You know, where as long as the box is closed the cat is both dead and alive?

The relief when they cat was actually alive, and I was nominated, was huge!

Now of course is when the work really starts in listening to what you want from your new President, and whether I fit the bill.

Over the past few years I’ve had a chance to see the role of President close up. I have no illusions about how much work is involved, or what it will take to continue to build the wide movement we all want.

But I also know how important it is that the membership has a strong, clear, effective voice. A president who speaks for the members, but more importantly, one who listens to what they want and communicates that to the leadership.

We have a fantastic team at HQ with so many bright, capable people working to fulfil our vision for the party whether it’s in campaigns, fundraising, policy or the press team.

I see the President’s role there as facilitating what they do.

Not directing the operation, after all they are the ones with the expertise, but supporting and making sure that they have what they need from the party infrastructure.

The new chief executive will run the party day to day. I would be there to oversee.

Most of all I see the President as the link between the members, the staff, the parliamentarians and the public.

Communication is the key, both within the party and to the outside world.

If we are going to build a grassroots movement, we have to reach the voters and convince them that we have something to offer.

We have to create a movement, with a goal and an image that they believe in and want to be part of.

In the third decade of the 21st Century that will mean mass communication on TV, radio and online.

As president I think I will have the skills and the platform to convey our message there.

As the party grows we will increasingly be talking about a national message.

Talking to the country with one voice, as well as to our individual constituencies, both geographic and social.

We have to use that national exposure to add a new string to our bow. Or rather, return to a string we played well in the past.

There will always be an important role for our hugely successful door to door grassroots campaigning and delivering.

But in a General Election we can reach so many more people with an effective social media, TV and radio presence.

Take an average nightly regional or national new programme like Reporting Scotland. Six hundred thousand people watch it every night.

When I worked there, Jim Wallace and Charles Kennedy, who was President at the time, were on constantly. We won 15 seats in the Scottish Parliament and had 11 MPs in Scotland because the public heard what we had to say in an effective media message.

And it wasn’t just in Scotland; it worked across the country when Simon was President, they used their existing platform and built a bigger profile as President.

That’s what I want to do.

But as well as having a message, we have to make it an attractive proposition to be a member. We need to encourage the people who don’t just want to do something good and make a contribution.

We need to convince people to see us as a long-term investment and something to be part of and get something from.

It’s not just about a quick vote and move on. I want people to put down roots in this party.

I want to make them feel welcome. Make it clear that as members they have a President who will listen to what they say and make sure it gets to the people who need to hear it.

I want to be a President who listens and then gets it done.

Heidi Allen: Why I joined the Liberal Democrats

When I became an MP in 2015, I could never have imagined we would find ourselves in this position. Through the prudent and practical decisions taken during the coalition years, the economy was recovering and our country was on the up.

Coming from business, joining the Conservative Party seemed the logical thing to do. But two general elections and an EU referendum later, the landscape has shifted beyond all recognition.

In February 2019, I resigned from the Conservatives to sit as an Independent MP, because I recognised the Party had drifted irreversibly to the right and was more concerned with its own survival than the national interest.

In February 2019, I resigned from the Conservatives to sit as an Independent MP, because I recognised the Party had drifted irreversibly to the right and was more concerned with its own survival than the national interest.

The party had become utterly unrecognisable, uncompassionate and willing to wreck the economy and peace in Ireland by not just contemplating, but actively courting a No Deal Brexit.

The European Elections in May 2019 highlighted the need for MPs to work together in the national interest, putting aside party interests. Voters were crying out for a Remain Alliance to offer an alternative to the future portrayed by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

Believing that if you get the right people around a table anything is possible, I have always been comfortable with cross party working. So through the Summer and into the Autumn, as an independent broker, I have worked with the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Independents to build that Remain Alliance across England and Wales through the organisation I formed, Unite to Remain

Confident that good progress has now been made on building that Remain Alliance, I recognise that as with most things in life, I am stronger and more effective when I am part of a team.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that the best way to serve my constituents and country is to join the Liberal Democrats.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that the best way to serve my constituents and country is to join the Liberal Democrats.

Now is the time to stand shoulder to shoulder with, not just alongside, those I have collaborated and found shared values with.

Shifting to the extremes, the Conservatives and Labour have turned their backs on the liberal, progressive centre ground our country is crying out for. As we face the monumental task ahead of stopping a damaging Brexit, healing the rifts in society and rebuilding the UK, there is only one party with the honesty, energy and vision to do that – and that is the Liberal Democrats under the leadership of Jo Swinson.

My constituency is liberal and inclusive, bursting with innovation – I am so proud to represent it as its Member of Parliament. I have been bowled over by the support I have received from every corner of it.

I got into politics to make a difference by challenging the status quo.

My constituents know we are stronger in Europe and they demand better for their country. They know that although there is a terrifying amount of work ahead of us, together, we can build a fairer and more compassionate future for everyone.

I got into politics to make a difference by challenging the status quo.

So please help me, support me and join me in the Liberal Democrats – let’s do this.

Heidi Allen joins the Liberal Democrats

I am delighted to announce that Heidi Allen has joined the Liberal Democrats.

I’m delighted to welcome Heidi to the party. She has been a tireless campaigner for a people’s vote and has time and time again put the country’s interests ahead of her own.

I’m absolutely thrilled for Heidi to join our fantastic and ever-growing team and I know that her skills, experience and passion will be a real asset to our party.

Heidi is one of 50,000 people who have joined our party as members this year – along with more than 21,000 registered supporters.

Heidi will be standing in South Cambridgeshire as the Liberal Democrat candidate at the next election, is the seventh MP to join the party in 2019.

In joining the Liberal Democrats, she has called on others to reject the status quo, and unite behind the party’s campaign to Stop Brexit.

I am delighted to welcome Heidi Allen to the Liberal Democrats. She has long been an ally in the fight to stop Brexit, and having worked with her I know the energy and passion she will bring to our party.

This once again proves that the Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain. The best deal we have is as members of the European Union, and I look forward to working with Heidi in order to stop Brexit.