As you might guess from the title, the last third of 2006 was full of rules, lawyers and constitutions.
In my private life, the death throes of my divorce were scheduled for October, but I was back into Party mode in a bad way. The whole question of diversity and ethnicity came to a head and, whilst I frankly wasn't convinced at the time, and I'm still uneasy about the methodology, I cannot deny that the leadership are trying to do something. Now all we have to do is teach them to understand how things are done and why. The Liberator collective have already mentioned the meeting between Dawn Davidson and the Leader's office (Liberator 315), so I tell no tales when I note how incredibly unimpressed I was to hear of it. Look guys, which part of the phrase 'liberal principles' don't you get?
I also committed myself to trying to open up the way the party is run. I got involved in a debate about local party boundaries in Bromley but the big issue was our candidate selection process...
Appointments as Returning Officer streamed in, first Wokingham, then Wantage, then Maidstone and The Weald, South East England (European), Wycombe and finally London South West (London Assembly). In the background, although not for long, there was an increasing clamour about our Selection Rules. In Birmingham, the debate became public. Ironically, there was simultaneously a move on the part of the English Candidates Committee to be more responsive, and I was permitted to launch something of a counter-attack, first on this blog, then via Liberal Democrat Voice and finally, this very week, in Liberator (I've been published - I'm so proud...). It now looks like there will be an ongoing debate, and I'm keen to play a part in that.
Finally, I seemed to spend a lot of time acting on behalf of St Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes. I tried to broker a peace deal between the Darbyshires and, it seemed, the majority of the Lib Dem blogosphere, and, whilst it wasn't without its difficult moments, peace seems to have broken out.
My harder problem though was the campaign to 'save' Susanne Lamido for the nation, sorry, Party. It would be fair to say that Susanne has made herself a fair number of enemies, and things culminated in an attempt to revoke her membership, a fact which seemed to be of remarkable interest beyond the Party. Having originally volunteered to be her supporter on the basis that everyone deserves a fair trial, I found myself in the role of chief defence attorney, something I had not expected. In the end, it came down to an interpretation of the agreed facts, when Susanne's absence probably told against her.
The year ended in scandal, with Labour's increasing problems with integrity and, more entertainingly, if somewhat less than ideal, Lembit Opik's problems with his relationships.
And on that note, may I wish you all a very Cheeky Christmas, and a happy New Year... I'll probably post again before 2007 comes in, but I'll be occupied elsewhere, so don't wait up...