miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Obviously we're a bit close to (and a bit bruised by) the drubbing we got on Thursday, and so we're probably not in the best state to come up with sensible suggestions. However, everyone ELSE is writing one of these articles, sooooo...
  1. We already have autumn conference booked and ready to roll. By the time we get there we will have had lots of time to argue about what went wrong and why everyone hates us, and will have come to some conclusions and ideas for solutions. Also, our party constituion is well overdue for a refresh. We should use Bournemouth as an opportunity for a constitutional convention. We should totally redesign the party constituion from the ground up, and by the time autumn rolls around we will have some idea of how we want to go about that.

  2. Our brand has become somewhat toxic. A rebrand is necessary. We should not rush into this. Preferably it should be done after the constitutional convention. We can't, for example, just rename ourselves "the Liberals" because the continuity Liberals would get cross. However, one thing I would suggest is that having seen Sal Brinton's article on Lib Dem Voice, I think turning Libby into a phoenix might be a plan. I like the idea of us putting in our logo that no matter how many times you burn us we will always rise from the ashes.

  3. Things I would like to see us do as a party:
    • Can we get rid of the stupid managerial centrism and go back to being actual liberals and democrats now, please? I've been saying for AGES that applying to be the Rizla you can't slip between the Labservative parties is not going to inspire anyone...

    • The entire system of distributing information to people needs to be completely redesigned. Information should NOT be hoarded but distributed. Foot soldiers cannot fight properly if they do not know what is going on where, and there is a tendency at the top of both the federal and the regional parties to jealously hoard information like gold; information is not gold, it is oxygen, and we die when it is withheld from us.

    • Stipulate that SpAds should be diverse in age and experience as well as race and gender. While new graduates have a place in telling old warhorses the new ways of doing things and the new research that has just come out, they cannot and should not entirely replace old warhorses - but nor should old warhorses entirely replace and ignore young people, because quite a lot of the time the newfangled ways of doing things ARE better. In Calderdale we have young people like James Baker, and more people should listen to him about how to campaign because he's incredibly well versed and keeps himself up to date. But we also have veterans like Pauline Nash, who have buckets of experience of politics and life. BOTH of them are people I turn to in times of crisis. The national leadership could do with similar diversity.

    • The Wheelhouse - aka the Leadership Echo Chamber - should be disbanded and there should be something written in the new constitution of the party that such a horrific method of bypassing the democratic structures of the party to keep power and information for the few and away from the membership can never be formed again.

    • Get rid of the money sink that is nationbuilder - there are free alternatives that people in our party know how to use. Why are we paying for an expensive thing instead of using the free alternative? It's not like we have money to burn now.

    • Related to the above - use the expertise we have within the party, instead of ignoring the experts we have who are already members in favour of horrifically overpaid shiny new experts from abroad.

    These are just a few of the ideas I have at the moment. Obviously some of them are ideas I have had for some time. You, gentle reader, might entirely disagree with some or all of them: lets discuss it? Lets discuss it lots.

I am actually, unexpectedly, feeling pretty upbeat and enthused about Lib Demmery today. A lot of members have joined up in the last 24 hours. We went to the pub yesterday and laughed and cried and sang Losing Deposits* and let all the raw emotion out, and now I, for one, am ready to start the rebuild. I know other people are too - check out the Team Cockroach** hashtag on twitter - so lets get to it, people.

* which some of the other patrons found a bit disturbing - but there ain't no Gallows Humour like Lib Dem Gallows Humour.
** when Tim Farron was party president he said that we are like cockroaches after a nuclear war - we are made of stern stuff and we survive. It led to a lot of sneering news comment. It also led to lots of people proudly claiming the name of cockroach, probably because there ain't no gallows humour like lib dem gallows humour. A lot of the electorate probably think we are as low and bothersome as roaches right now, so it seems apt. And our exoskeletons are strong, and we WILL spring back when the labservatives stamp on us.

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 10:13 am (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
This is less urgent than the above but: we need to talk about some coalition Rules of Engagement. Not policies or red lines or that kind of thing, but at a meta-level — how do we decide on which matters we should compromise in order to further other more important goals? Are there cases when we threaten to sink the whole government in order to get a positive change? — in order to block a negative change? How do we deal with [FX:spit] Cabinet Collective Responsibility? That kinda thing.

I don't have clear answers, and "we need to leave this flexible" is surely a valid answer for some questions — but I think the make-it-up-as-we-go-along approach was a big factor in our loss of credibility within the coalition.
Edited Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 10:17 am (UTC)

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 10:25 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Unsurprisingly I agree with this and with all of the original post.

From Andrew (DW's openID still borked)

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 10:27 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Last anon was me hitting enter too early :-/

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 11:08 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love that idea of a phoenix libby! I immediately thought of the Mockingjay (p.1) but perhaps a tad too dramatic and copyright etc. But what a symbol, what a statement! A rallying call to 'join us', join the fight back! The Liberal revival!

There was a need for a more honest manifesto. A 'what we would do with a majority; manifesto' and a 'what we believe we could realistically press for in a coalition or looser arrangement; manifesto'. More realistically, a what we achieved and what we would like to achieve; manifesto - which really alludes to our beliefs and aims. Working with others is the reality and quite simply we need to work with whoever and wherever we can to implement our simply and clearly set-out beliefs and policies. The alternative is just to be a think tank!

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 10:45 am (UTC)
nickbarlow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nickbarlow
Constitutional convention - yes, yes and thrice yes. In fact, what I would suggest is to almost make Conference an Unconference. First item on Saturday would be a motio 'that the Constitution of the party be discarded and rewritten'. Then the bulk of the rest of the conference would be workshop sessions with the topics decided by the conference delegates who are there, not by someone ages before, to actually come up with a new draft constitution. Intersperse that with a few speeches in the main hall to get people moving around (and give a deadline for each workshop, so they don't drag on) and something for the media to cover, then on the Wednesday approve the new draft in the morning followed by leader's speech and we all go home happy.

From Andrew (DW's openID still borked)

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
If we were to do that, though, I'd *really* want it to be everyone who was there, not just voting members, who took part. I'm not a voting member this year because I missed my local party AGM because I had to work late, and I know that kind of thing will be true of others. That's OK in years when the big problem is going to be a rewriting of fisheries policy or something, but I'd be hugely angry if I ended up with an unacceptable party constitution because of that.

Re: From Andrew (DW's openID still borked)

From: [personal profile] nickbarlow - Date: Sunday, May 10th, 2015 06:05 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: Monday, May 11th, 2015 09:30 am (UTC)
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
From: [personal profile] rhythmaning
An excellent idea. I do like unconferences!

BTW just read your post on past/present/future - clear and level headed, thanks!

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 11:07 am (UTC)
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
From: [personal profile] wildeabandon
As one of the shiny new members I think I need to /understand/ how the party works internally a lot better before I start speculating about what needs to be done differently, but I shall be reading posts like this and the responses with great interest.

One thing that I think we need to start thinking about asap is the EU referendum and how to campaign a lot more effectively than we managed the AV one.

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From: [personal profile] wildeabandon - Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 11:14 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 11:43 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Well said! I'm not sure if I can make it to Bournemouth, but I'm a lot more motivated to try than I have been.

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 06:21 pm (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
This! Yesterday I was thinking I desperately want to find a way to afford it.

Date: Monday, May 11th, 2015 09:31 am (UTC)
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
From: [personal profile] rhythmaning
Me too!

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 12:13 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
I want a Lib-Dem party who are going to stand up for Liberal things, even in a coalition. Who aren't going to vote for DRIP, no matter what. Who are going to _think_ about things like the Bedroom Tax before voting it through, and realise the knock-on effects. Who will publicly, and loudly, stand up for disabled people, even if they're in coalition with people who are cutting their benefits. _Particularly_ when they are in a coalition with them. I want an end to "cabinet responsibility".

Go in, publicly make agreements, stand by those agreements, but don't then add on bits which are illiberal and justify them with "They'd be even worse without us" - make the people who believe in unpleasant things vote for the unpleasant things, if that means making Labour and Conservatives gang up on us then that's great - because it means people can see what we sodding well stand for.

And what I want us to stand for is reform. There's nothing on the front page of the manifesto, or in our "red lines" that made me think "Yes, this is a party I will vote for, no matter what." It was (largely) good stuff, but it didn't grab me. And if the Lib Dems want my support, and the support of other liberal, democratic people then their big selling point shouldn't be "We'll cut less than X" or "Spend more than Y" - it should be "We'll make the other fuckers more liberal, more democratic, and hold the bastards to account."

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 12:55 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
Yes. *All* of this.

From Andrew (DW's openID still borked)

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 12:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

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From: [personal profile] thamesynne - Date: Sunday, May 10th, 2015 01:36 am (UTC) - Expand

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Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 01:21 pm (UTC)
doccy: (Entirely Fagin)
From: [personal profile] doccy
Conversation, not-quite verbatim but near as dammit;

Me: "They're in the pub, singing 'Losing Deposits'"
Wife And Spiritual Leader of my Nation: "Is that to the tune of 'Losing My Religion'?"
Me: ...*googles* "No, it's to Waltzing Ma..."
WASLomN: "Because that would totally work. Listen:
'Oh life, it's bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes'

Me: ...
WASLomN: "Is it wrong that I want to Vid the election?"
Me: ...*starting to giggle*
WASLomN: "Yeah, it turns out that you don't have to change -any- of the lyrics, but that one word... (OK, maybe one more word)
'That's me in the corner,
That's me in the spotlight,
Losing my Deposits,
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no, I've spent too much
I haven't spent enough..."

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Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 04:21 pm (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
Your last point, about the party failing to use internal expertise, is one I bashed my head against a few times while still a member. I hope it does finally get addressed.

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 06:20 pm (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
It is no surprise that I agree with every word of this and that I love you, right?

Stand for something

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
What the party needs to do above all is to stand for something clear and identifiable and distinctive. It used to do. It doesn't now. After seven years of Clegg's leadership, I'm not sure there's even any clear, identifiable and distinctive common ground among the membership.

Re: Stand for something

Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
What did it stand for, that was 'clear and identifiable and distinctive'?

And don't say 'liberalism', that's far too vague and academic and woolly — I mean something concrete that the Lib Dems want to actually do to improve society.

With the Tories it's easy, they stand for shrinking the state and low public spending so that they can cut taxes. If you think having low taxes will improve society, vote Tory.

With Labour it's also easy, they stand for increasing public spending. If you think that having lots of state employees, lots of libraries, lots of nurses, and generous benefits will improve society, vote Labour.

(I mean there's some subtleties in their positions, but those basically sum them up and are easy to get your head around, and also — crucially — can easily be extrapolated from to have an idea what each party's attitude will be to novel situations, so you're unlikely to be surprised).

With the Liberal Democrats, pre-2010, I think the only concrete things I could have said they stood for were anti-Iraq-War, anti-ID-cards/surveillance/that sort of thing, and proportional representation (and the greatest of these is proportional representation).

And the problem is that two of these are negative so don't really say what the Lib Dems are for as opposed to what they're against, and the third, well, everybody in Britain who cares about that is already a member of the Lib Dems.

The main reason people (who weren't actually members) seemed to vote for them, pre-2010, seemed to be not for anything the Liberal Democrats were actually for (I'm not even convinced they could have told you a single Lib Dem policy, apart form 'against the War' and maybe 'against Tuition fees', but then that's negative again) but as a 'none of the above' vote, against the 'establishment' parties.

And then moving past 2010, and looking at this election, I couldn't believe the message was 'more competent than Labour, nicer than the Tories', because if you say that to people what they hear is 'we're not as nice as Labour, and we're not as competent as the Tories'. You're effectively telling people not to vote for you: if they want nice (I believe the word used was 'heart'), you're saying, they should vote Labour and if they want competent ('head') they should vote Tory. Result: squeezed from both sides, blue-facing seats go blue, red-facing seats go red.

I think if you want to win votes beyond the base 7-8% of the population who actually care about 'liberalism' you need some concrete core principle, as concrete and easy to grasp as Labour's 'expand the state' and the Tories' 'lower taxes, stable economy', which people (again, people who are not actually interested in following the nitty-gritty of political deate but just want an 'executive summary') will actually connect with and decide they want to vote for.

Because you got to the high-point of 2005 on negative votes, but they have all gone now and won't be coming back. You have to give people something to vote for, and I'm afraid electoal reform just won't cut it.

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Date: Saturday, May 9th, 2015 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pwaring.wordpress.com
I don't know enough about the internals of the party to comment on constitutional or organisational matters, but I think re-branding is jumping the gun. Changing the name won't detoxify the brand, especially if MPs like Clegg are still high profile members (I think the toxicity is associated with him as much as with the party).

Even Blair didn't dump the name as part of his modernisation (effectively a detoxification of the 'tax and spend, wreck the economy' label) of the Labour party, and he was probably the smartest political operator we've seen since Thatcher.

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Date: Sunday, May 10th, 2015 02:47 pm (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
The party needs you and a lot more people like you in it, Jennie.

Date: Monday, May 11th, 2015 09:35 am (UTC)
rhythmaning: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rhythmaning
Great post, thanks.

Me, I drowned my sorrows and went dancing... ;)

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From: [personal profile] thamesynne - Date: Monday, May 11th, 2015 12:40 pm (UTC) - Expand

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