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Improving how our party works

July 14, 2020 6:01 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Coming up on Saturday (18 July) is the next meeting of the Federal Board (FB). This is the body which I chair as your President and is, "responsible for directing, coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the Party's strategy and the work of the Federal Party".

We're a bit like the board of trustees of an organisation, therefore, and Saturday's meeting will be our next quarterly review, where we review progress in the federal party over the second quarter of the year against our overall plan.

The first half of the year has been dominated by getting basic elements of good management in place, such as objective settings for staff and their teams, a more robust approach to risk management and making a start on improvements to our use of technology.

The second half of the year will see a shift to focusing on improved cooperation internally between the federal party and other elements of our family along with improving internal communications. Then towards the end of the year attention will focus more on improving our political messages ahead of the huge May 2021 elections.

An important part of all that is implementing the independent Election Review, which was headed up by Dorothy Thornhill. So we'll be considering the plans for integrating its recommendations into the work of the federal party - crucial so that implementation is seen as part of all of our day-to-day roles, rather than an optional add-on.

Alongside that, we need to develop a new party strategy and so we'll be discussing the key issues to go out to consultation with members.

A major theme running through the recommendations from Dorothy and her colleagues is the need to improve our record on diversity and inclusion - both so that we give all members and supporters the best possible opportunities to be involved in and influence the party, and also to improve our voter appeal in BAME communities in particular. We'll therefore also be discussing how the party should react to the Black Lives Matter movement and how to ensure that previous party reports on diversity are fully actioned.

Another big part of her recommendations focus on how the party is run, so we'll be considering the best way to progress internal party reforms. One part of that is better defining the roles of Leader, CEO and President - as the review goes into necessary, if painful, detail about the problems that follow if that is got wrong.

Another part is for the Board to look at its own performance and structure. The size of the Board at 43 (35 elected, six non-elected and two other in attendance) is an obvious sign that our structures are not always as helpful as they should be in making sure the party is run well and so that your views, efforts and support generate the outcomes they should. This is by no means the only part of how we're run that needs looking at, so we'll be considering our overall approach, as well as specific options on the Board's own future.

I've also asked the Federal Conference Committee (FCC) for a good allocation of time to allow us to consult properly with members at party conference on issues such as our strategy, the implementation of the election review and how we improve the way the party is run.

In other business, the Board is currently seeking applicants for the Federal Appeals Panel - the party's Supreme Court, as it were. You don't have to have a legal background to apply. These roles could also suit you if, for example, you have experience with applying and interpreting rules in HR, compliance or many other areas. More details on the party website here.

Meanwhile, nominations have opened for the party's annual awards, to be presented at our autumn conference. This time there's a new award, named in honour of pioneering Liberal election agent Bertha Bowness Fischer. She was the first female qualified election agent for any party and the award named after her recognises the contributions from newer party members. More details on the party website here.

Finally, I'll continue to do a report back after each Board meeting, so keep an eye on this site for the next one, coming out after the weekend.

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