Monday, October 15, 2007

No, didn't the Federal Executive learn from our last leadership contest?

Apparently, we are to have a new leader by 17 December.

After our last contest, I noted that the process was somewhat limited, and prevented a proper dialogue between the candidates and the members. Now I may be being unduly pessimistic here, but how in the name of God are candidates going to be able to organise campaign teams and really reach out to the members in a period of, effectively, six weeks at the most?

So, just in case the message didn't get home the first time, what I want to see is:
  • access to the membership lists for the campaign teams
  • something more than one side of A4 so that I can find out more about them
  • an e-hustings so that I can elicit some meaningful answers
  • access to podcasts and the like, so that I can see the whites of their eyes

That requires a little time, and the notion that declaring a winner a week before Christmas is, being generous, unlikely to draw huge attention when most people are thinking about Christmas, not politics, nor will it allow candidates to develop a 'personality' and a narrative.

Might it not be better to run the process more slowly, announce a winner in February, and let the new leader's momentum carry us into the spring local elections?


Tony Ferguson said...

I absolutely agree - at the end of the day we want to ensiure that we elect the best leader to take us forward. How we are to determine this with such a limited campaign is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Huhne do podcasts last time?

I'm sure after last time they must be given membership lists and now there is an e-hustings site surely it will be used??

Tristan said...

I agree too.

Why the urge for a very quick handover?

Andy Mayer said...

I'm not sure that's correct chaps. If you're leader of a party you have to be ready for a General Election in 3 weeks at the drop of a hat. If you can't organise and get your message across in respect of the smaller task of winning a leadership election then that is an issue.

These are also not unknown quantities. Not unless you seriously believe a third party is going to upset the Huhne-Clegg contest narrative.

Long contests, like our interesting rules about due process in respect of forming coalitions might allow extra time for Bloggshire Lib Dems to hold a hustings or more expansive websites, but don't make us look very serious.

The Leader's main job is to reach out to the public. They can do that most effectively through the media. They need to understand what the party is thinking and attempt to lead the party in a direction, but the person that's going to win is the one that can talk to the British People most effectively about why the Liberal Democrats and why them. Whatever happens in the internal campaign, it's still the media-influenced vote that carries most weight. And 6 weeks is a long time in the media.