Objectives of the English Party for 2019

This has undoubtedly been a great start to the year. Thanks go to all the local campaigners who over the years never gave up and continued to deliver Focuses, campaign and push the Lib Dem message in their communities. When the opportunity came following Tory mismanagement of Brexit, we were ready and prepared to secure gains in the local elections. Over seven hundred local council seats gained – fantastic!

The success in local elections was followed by the best MEP election results we have ever achieved – by having sixteen MEPs elected.

Recently, we have elected a new Leader – Jo Swinson – who I would like to congratulate and believe that she will take us to the next level (as they say). I would also like to thank Vince (a visionary) for all that he has done and is doing for the party. Moreover, all this has been done against the background of us consistently polling high with the electorate after many years.

My faith in the Lib Dems never wavered, and that’s because our principles of equality, the individual, internationalism and opportunity (to name a few) was right and is still right going forward. The English Party is there to support these principles and support the English members who campaign on these values.

All this has helped the EP to focus on what they wanted to develop and start to deliver in 2019. These goals can be summarised as:

  • The party needs to grow, and the way it does that is by gaining more local council seats. The more councillors we have, the more robust the party; the greater our base of elected councillors is the more opportunities we will have to secure additional seats in parliament. The EP, therefore, should look to assist the LPs in campaigning and securing more councillors;
  • One of the benefits of successful campaigning is it allows us to attract more members. Increase in members helps us with much-needed fundraising, assistance in campaigning, strengthen local resource base, to name but a few benefits; and
  • We live in a liberal country, with a progressive outlook and values, and there is only one party that encapsulates these values and that’s us – the Liberal Democrats. However, we have not been able to associate our message with these liberal thinking voters. Consequently, the third aspect of the change is communication: to push the Lib Dem brand with the right message in our diverse communities, to improve our internal communications and to listen to our members.

The three priorities are discussed in more detail below:

1. Campaigning

Objective:

Gain an additional 2500 councillors in England over the next four years (to May 2023).

Where Are We?

At the start of this year, we had just over 1800 councillors in England out of approximately 17,000. After May’s election, we now have just over 2,500 councillors. Consequently, we are focusing to gain another 1,800 more councillors by May 2023 (the gain of 700+ councillors has already started us off on a positive note). Even last May we were only able to put up 53% of candidates for available council seats (the Tories managed to fill 97%).

What Are We Doing

ALDC will work with the regions to develop a plan that will focus on the next four years to win 1,800 additional council seats. The idea is to build campaigning capacity, identify training to skill up activists and produce good campaign plans. The English Party will (if possible – budget permitting) look to support regions to appoint development officer where they don’t have one and provide more funding to G8.

I am hoping we will have the initial plans agreed with the regional parties by the end of October 2019.

2. Communications

Develop a platform to enable better communications with members and stronger messaging.

Where Are We

Our web presence current has been challenging, and that limited the interaction between the English members, Council and the English Executive. Moreover, there is little communication with the wider English members.

What Are We Doing

  • Our thanks go to Iain Donaldson and Prater Raines who are working on getting an English Party web page ready. The web page will hold dates of all meetings, summary of minutes, and details of members on the English Executive and English Council. There will be links to useful resources, links to region webpages, announcements, a blog and eventually a feedback mechanism for members. The site is currently being finalised. Once that is completed you will be provided with the URL to access and join the site;
  • We have started the Newsletter to the English Council that will continue quarterly, and other newsletters to the whole of the English membership;
  • With ALDC and LDHQ we are progressing with the development of English Party “One Voice”. This will be a growing group of members who will promote agreed Lib Dem messages (specific to a local campaign or a national one) on social media. The new website will assist in controlling the activities of this group

3. Membership

Objective:

To increase the English members in the party from the current 85,000 members to above 100,000 by the end of 2023 and for the same period to have over 20,000 signed up friends of Lib Dems.

Where Are We

Currently, we have achieved this objective for England. We have therefore looked to increase the target to 130,000. The party has also been successful in signing up Friends of Lib Dems (for which I do not have the numbers at the moment). Again, we will support and work with the initiatives that LDHQ have been successfully implementing.

An Overview of the English Party

Introduction

The Liberal Democrats are a Federal Party comprising England, Scotland and Wales with all their powers defined by the Party’s Constitution. This principle embodies one of our most deeply held core values, which is our belief in the devolution of power to the most appropriate level.

Consequently, the separation of power between the Federal and State parties is enshrined in the Constitution, and can only be varied with the agreement of Federal Conference and the Conferences and Conventions of all three state parties.

Objectives

The main objectives of the English Party are to:

  • Enable Liberal Democrats to be elected as MPs, MEPs, Councillors and all other levels of public office to implement Liberal Democrat policies;
  • Optimise the effectiveness of the 11 English Regions by sharing best practice, developing their membership base and fundraising capacity.

To realise this, the main functions of the English Party are to:

  • Manage the approval and selection of Parliamentary Candidates for Westminster, European Parliamentary Elections, Elected Mayors and Police & Crime Commissioners through the English Candidates Committee;
  • Encourage Regions to motivate and develop all their Local Parties by strengthening their organisation and effectiveness with advice and training;
  • Manage the finances of the Liberal Democrats in England;
  • Determine the level of service fees to be paid to Local Parties for the recruitment and renewal of membership;
  • Resolve disputes in Local Parties, Council Groups and Regional Parties.

English Party Structure

The English Council (EC)

EC is the body which represents the interests of the eleven English Regions and meets twice a year, usually in June and November. At these meetings, English Executive officers publish detailed reports on all the activities of the English Party and are held to account by the regional representatives. The level of information available is probably the most comprehensive than anywhere in the party.

The English Council has also scrutinised post-mortems of our campaigns for General Elections, European Elections, Local and County Council Elections and elections for Elected Mayors and Police Commissioners. These sessions can last up to two or three hours and allow those responsible for running these campaigns to make an objective presentation followed on occasion by robust questioning.

The English Council Executive (ECE)

ECE carries out all the necessary functions of the English Council between its meetings. The Executive consists of the eleven Regional Chairs, the Chair of Liberal Youth and twelve persons directly elected by the Council. Both the Chair of the English Party and English Candidates Chair as well as the representatives to the Federal Executive, Federal Conference Committee and Federal Policy Committee are elected directly by all the members of the English Council every year in November.

The current Chair is Tahir Maher who chairs the ECE which now has three separate sub-committees. These are:

  • The Regional Parties Committee (RPC) which handles disputes. The current chair of this committee is Paul Hienkens;
  • The English Finance & Administration Committee (EFAC) which monitors the Service Level Agreement with the Federal Party, oversees and sets financial governance for the English party. The current chair of this committee is the English Party Treasurer, David Hughes;
  • The English Candidates Committee (ECC) under the direction of its Chair Prue Bray is responsible for the approval and selection of all Parliamentary Candidates in the 533 Westminster Constituencies, the 9 Euro Regions, Elected Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners.

The ECC consists of the 11 Regional Candidates Chairs, five members who are directly elected by the English Council, 1 Parliamentarian and 1 PCA representative. The work of the ECC is supported by an English Candidates Office who have one full-time staff based at LDHQ. The ECC meets five times in a calendar year.

The ECC has also completely revised the Parliamentary Selection Rules after every General Election, making them more user-friendly and less bureaucratic. Since 2010, we have been running a two-tier process, one for strategic or priority seats and another for development seats.

This is just an initial snapshot of a few of the many responsibilities of the English Party and the excellent work it does to keep the essential services running behind the scenes. Over the coming months, I will expand on each area, so members better understand what the English Party does and has achieved for its members.

Luciana Berger’s running to be the next Lib Dem MP for Finchley and Golder’s Green

We’ve got some great news – Luciana Berger will be standing to be the next Liberal Democrat MP for Finchley and Golder’s Green!

Luciana had this to say:

“It has been an enormous privilege to have served as the MP for Liverpool Wavertree for almost ten years.

I cannot thank my constituents enough for the relationship we have grown over the last decade and what we have achieved together.”

Ahead of the next General Election, a letter from me to constituents about my future – pic.twitter.com/S1UGOoBHnA

— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) September 26, 2019

“Balancing personal and professional responsibilities is complicated for everyone and, as a family, we have had to work out how best to balance our work with raising our young children.

After a great deal of thought, we have decided that after the next election – whenever that may be – we will relocate full time to London.

I will be standing as the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Finchley and Golders Green at the next general election.

I will persist in standing up to Johnson and his government, who are intent on taking us to the No Deal Brexit precipice which would result in serious consequences for people’s jobs and livelihoods in London and across the country.”

We think Luciana will be a great MP for Finchley and Golder’s Green – and look forward to supporting her in her campaign there.

Want to find out more, volunteer or donate? Visit Luciana’s website to find out more:

Visit now

9 Times Labour Let Down Remainers on Brexit

1. Corbyn’s campaigning

To say Jeremy Corbyn’s campaigning efforts in the 2016 EU referendum were lacklustre would be putting it very generously.

Despite certain Labour figures claiming that they were a ‘Remain party’, voters were kept in the dark about their real stance, with Corbyn famously labelling his enthusiasm for staying in the EU as a “seven, or seven and a half out of 10”.

2. Voting against a second referendum

Soon after the 2016 referendum, Corbyn totally ruled out support for a People’s Vote, claiming that the result was ‘clear’.

Considering the UK was divided 52% to 48%, this was pretty obviously not the case.

3 Labour peddling their own Brexit nonsense

At their 2017 Spring conference, Labour’s election manifesto boasted a ‘jobs-first Brexit’.

Knowing full well that there was no form of Brexit that could benefit the country, this was yet more proof that the party had turned its back on its Remain voters.

4. Letting the government off the hook

There were 10 votes on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in 2017 and 2018 in which the Labour party abstained.

With Labour sitting on their hands, the Conservative government has free rein to plunge us into more Brexit chaos.

5. Constantly aligning with the Tories’ Brexiteer policies

As well as abstaining in 23 key votes on Brexit, Labour actually voted with the Tory government on six occasions, clearly happy to push ahead with their dangerous Breit plans.

6. Blocking a People’s Vote (again)

In March 2019, Labour instructed its Parliamentarians to abstain in a vote for a second referendum, which would have given people the final say on Brexit. Once again, Corbyn was letting the Tories off the hook.

barack obama shrug GIF

7. Seeking a Labour Brexit deal

In a recent piece in The Guardian, Jeremy Corbyn says he will seek a ‘sensible Labour Brexit deal’.

Whether Tory Blue or Labour Red, there is no form of Brexit that will be good for the country. Britain is better off in the EU.

“Nigel Farage might be Brexit by name, but Jeremy Corbyn is Brexit by nature.”

The Liberal Democrats are unapologetically against Brexit, and as the strongest Remain party, we’ll keep fighting to end this nightmare. Back the campaign today > https://t.co/Mp2XkNrVFVpic.twitter.com/zAS1AVtVDs

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 18, 2019

8. Campaigning for a general election before a People’s Vote

The Liberal Democrats have been fighting for a People’s Vote with the option to stay in the EU for over three years. We believe that this is the best way to bring an end to this mess. But the Labour party have failed to join us in the fight to give the people the final say on the deal, choosing instead to focus on their calls for a General Election.

They’re putting the party’s interests ahead of the public’s and are continuing to be purposely ambiguous on their real stance on Brexit.

Compare and contrast – we’re confident that we’d do well in a General Election and are ready to go with a clear ‘Stop Brexit’ manifesto pledge. But the best way to end this mess is to have a People’s Vote before any general election, with the option to remain in the EU.

stop guys GIF by Minority Report

9. Failing to take a position at Conference

Labour Remainers might have hoped for some clarity on their party’s Brexit position at Conference. Sadly not.

Instead, Corbyn’s lack of leadership on the biggest issue of the day was glaringly apparent. The Labour Leader will not commit his party to campaigning for remaining in the E.U. in the event of a People’s Vote. Instead his focus is on securing his bogus, unicorn Brexit deal after a General Election, after which he may decide on a position.

Remainers deserve real opposition to Boris Johnson and his reckless Brexit plans – that’s the Liberal Democrats.

It’s clear that despite Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts to mislead the public, he is leading a party of Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn has demonstrated a total lack of leadership on Brexit & shown he is a Brexiteer at heart #LabourMeansLeave@JoSwinson & the LibDems are the strongest Remain party. Help us #StopBrexit👇https://t.co/Mp2XkNJx4vpic.twitter.com/b1uoLyP67T

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 23, 2019

Remainers deserve better. The Liberal Democrats are the biggest, strongest party of Remain. We are leading the fight to stop Brexit and for Britain to lead from within the EU.

Join the Lib Dems today to demand real change.