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 Parliament 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.