miss_s_b: Mindy St Clare from The Good Place, hiding her nakedness behind very large sunflowers and looking shocked (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
*Seth's full answer on the "Where I'm from" question:
"I live in Camden at the moment, but I was born in Switzerland, and raised as much there & in Australia as in England. I've been active in local parties in Haringey, Greenwich and Cambridge before settling here.

I'm one of those first-generation immigrants you keep reading about - the ones who are here to "steal British jobs from British workers" - and so I'm unsurprisingly quite bullish about tackling illiberal attitudes head-on in the UKIP age."

Are you standing for the first time or restanding? If first time what new thing do you bring that nobody else could; if restanding, what about your record are you most proud of that you think should make us vote you back in?

I'm standing for the first time, even though I first joined the party as a teenager in 1997.

In my day job I'm an academic, specialising in British political history, and detecting corruption in particular. As someone who lectures and writes around political history, I have particular expertise on coalition governments, and the successful running of coalition governments.

In particular, I'm tired of saying "I told you so". Back in 2010, I actually predicted most of the catastrophes that have come out of this coalition, precisely because I had closely studied the precedents, both in Britain and in Europe, with coalition governments. I kept being told "No, no, no, no, you don't understand; 20th century parallels/European parallels aren't relevant here. Politics operates to different rules in 21st century Britain." And then these things happened anyway: tuition fees, secret courts, NHS "reforms", the AV referendum, the fudging of Trident, and the total failure to pass our constitutional reform package, particularly Lords reform. Most of these things weren't in the coalition agreement, they came about because our ministers mishandled the things which weren't in the coalition agreement.

There is still one major challenge looming. If I was the Conservative Party, I wouldn't let the coalition run its course until polling day next May. I'd stab the Liberal Democrats in the back, and dissolve the coalition on an issue of my choosing that makes the Lib Dems look as bad as possible going into the next election. I think this is not only likely, but almost certain to happen. We need a strategy to deal with it. I'm standing for FE to tackle this.

Obviously, we can't have these strategy debates in full view of the media, but FE needs to be doing this, because our ministers have shown themselves to be extremely naive in their handling of coalition, and I trust the activists more than I trust the MPs. Please give me your first preference vote to see this issue tackled head-on. Our survival as a party may depend on it.


Are you standing for any other committees, if so which ones; and if elected to more than one how do you plan to divide your time?

No. I decided to focus my attention on this role.


Are you an active member of any SAOs, and if so which ones?

No, though I used to be involved in Liberal Youth and its predecessor back in the day.

I'm currently quite active in the Social Liberal Forum, although I'm aware that they're not technically an SAO. They should be, though!


If someone asked you on the doorstep, the hustings or on TV to sum up in one or two sentences what the Lib Dems, uniquely, stand for – and then why anyone should vote for us – what are your answers?

I am a Liberal Democrat because I am a Liberal.

Liberals mistrust entrenched power, concentrations of power, and monopoly, because they breed abuses of power.

That's why we seek to break down power, devolve power, check power, hold it to account.

When we've made good decisions in power, they've been about breaking down power. Our greatest failures have often involved an abuse of power, and I'm standing for FE to try and put a stop to that. The party's handling of Rennard and Hancock is the most striking case in point.

We need to practice what we preach about a party that is a safe environment for its own members and workers, or else we're frankly not worthy to seek the electorate's votes. I want to see that party exist, to see it thrive, and I will work tirelessly for that cause.


What is your view on diversity quotas for committees? Should they be extended to cover more than just gender, scrapped totally, kept as is or something else?

I remember writing part of Jo Swinson's 2001 conference speech against the adoption of quotas; the one that led to the rejection of "clustering" in selection, and the creation of what is now Women Liberal Democrats.

I have completely changed my views on this in the last five years.

I used to argue on liberal grounds that I found diversity quotas to be patronising. I've changed my mind, because when I started looking at countries which *did* have a healthy political culture stemming from a healthy gender balance - Norway, Sweden, Denmark - the common feature they all had was that they all went through a period of quotas to challenge the existing entrenched patriarchy. One finds the same is true in the United States with the legacy of segregation having been undone through affirmative action - although the USA still has a long way to go in many areas.

As such, as long as we understand that this is a temporary measure - albeit one that could last decades - I see diversity quotas as not only desirable, but essential.

I suppose that as a white heterosexual man, you could say that I should practice what I preach, and should not stand! But I think this is as much about changing attitudes and practices as changing demographics, and I aim to champion diversity.

I don't believe in diversity for diversity's own sake; I believe in diversity because there's a very strong evidence base that better, more robust decision-making arises from more diverse bodies that can cross-examine ideas and initiatives.


Secrecy rules prevent the party knowing what committees are doing. What will you do to communicate with members; and in what circumstances is confidentiality justified?

Secrecy rules prevent me from reporting back on what has been said at an FE meeting. There is absolutely nothing to prevent me from declaring what I intend to bring up at an FE meeting, before that meeting has taken place; and to do so in a way that doesn't necessarily give away what may be on the agenda.

If elected, I would be very happy to maintain a blog that combines my thoughts on politics generally with my broader academic interests. In the meantime, you can look at some of my articles over at https://alexanderthevoz.wordpress.com/publications/


As the party has now backed the principle of OMOV, how will you ensure all members are represented, not just those who can afford to go to Conference?

With the last decade's advances in the internet, I'm very open to the idea of greater use of year-round policy debates conducted online - with formal speeches by video, responses with time limits and deadlines, and votes that have quroums, etc - to involve more members in policy-making.

Having said that, conference still serves a vital social function in bringing together activists from different parts of the country, so I don't see it being phased out altogether.


If police accreditation to attend conference was proposed again, would you support or oppose it and why?

I'm opposed to it. Do we want to live our lives behind (metaphorical) barbed wire, or live a real life?

Basic security measures are essential, but the reality is that a determined terrorist will get through even the most elaborate security arrangements, so the first principle should be whether our security plans place an unreasonable burden on/obstruction to members. I think the police accreditation system of recent years went too far, and has no place in a liberal party.


What is your view on electoral pacts? Should the party make them, and if so, who with?

The single greatest electoral calamity of the 20th century was the 1903 Gladstone-Macdonald Pact, which gave the Labour Party a leg-up into becoming a mainstream party, and resulted in the long-term eclipse of the Liberal Party.

Whatever the short-term benefits of election pacts, I believe they're deeply corrosive to our electoral independence and appeal in the long run, and I'm against them.

I do, however, support co-operating with fellow travellers in other parties on policy measures and single-issue campaigns where we can work together. But we must preserve our independence at elections, or we lose the distinctiveness that makes us worth voting for.


How should the FE change the way it operates following the motion passed in Glasgow censuring the Federal Executive?

As I've said, I'm all for the gender quotas the FE imposed; but with conference having deemed that the way those quotas were imposed was unconstitutional, that needs to be respected.

I will be only too happy to comply with the terms of the censure, and to see that a quota for the 2016 elections goes through the proper constitutional mechanism of a conference vote. I myself would speak strongly in favour of that quota, and I would abide by the result of the conference vote.


What do you think needs to be said and done about the performance of the party Chief Executive?

One thing that came clearly out of the Morrissey report was that back in 2003, the present job of Chief Executive very much had its job description written with Chris Rennard in mind. The reasons for this were at best questionable.

In 2014, there's much to be said for looking at redefining the job of Chief Executive, and that may involve splitting it up.



All answers are presented unedited, as entered by the candidate (mainly due to time). You can find links to other candidates' entries here

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