Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The unbearable lightness of Liberal Youth: the Returning Officer's cut

Having just completed a lengthy review of the Liberal Youth constitution and then issued a bunch of election rulings, I am a mite weary this morning, especially as my rulings were issued in the early hours.

It is interesting to operate with a set of rules which leave vast areas of doubt and uncertainty. There is no guidance about endorsements, and given the apparently general assumption that these are barred - indeed, they are in most internal Party elections and selections - the ensuing debate about the use of photographs with celebrities in them rather misses the point in this instance.

I have therefore chosen to assume that inclusion in a photograph does not imply endorsement unless said individual explicitly endorses the candidate whose manifesto it is in. It is my intention that this assumption is clearly stated in the manifesto booklet. The flip side of this ruling is that, if an explicit endorsement is claimed, it must be vouched by the endorser on pain of disqualification. And yes, for the avoidance of doubt, I really mean it.

Use of Facebook is in. I want candidates to use the free tools available to them. I want members to be able to engage with candidates. I want experimentation, initiative and imagination because these are the sort of skills that can make radical organisations work more effectively, achieve more and make more of an impression.

It hasn't all been as I would wish. The Rules explicitly prevent the membership list from being made available to candidates for purposes of campaigning, and I'll be looking at this again after the conclusion of the elections. I do think that this hands some individuals a potential advantage but my hands are tied.

Lastly, what I would like to see is a campaign of ideas, of proposals and of commitment. What I don't want to see is negative campaigning, abuse and cheap shots. I don't approve of it and, of course, I have the authority to do something about it.

So watch this space, as I'll be using this blog from time to time to report on the campaign...


Hywel said...

How can you have a general assumption that something isn't allowed when the rules don't mention it!

I was always of the view that endorsements should be barred in LDYS elections. Though that didn't stop me using 3 MPs and a Peer to endorse me when I was elected :-)

The LY website still lists the candidates for the Exec elections in May 2008 so if this is what everyone is bothered about then the organisation has declined even further than I thought.

Mark Valladares said...


I share your wonderment as to such a general assumption. However, given that the endorsement rules apply to most Party elections, you can understand how such a mindset might establish itself. It does, however, indicate that constitutions are seldom read by the people most impacted by them...

I am increasingly of the view that our endorsement rules are the cause of much tension and futile effort. It is entirely legitimate for an ordinary member to seek additional data about candidates, and the calibre of the people who support them is part of that. There have been a number of examples where the support of 'hierarchy figures' has worked against candidates - we are often anti-establishment in our tastes and responses - and quite often such endorsements are based on past performance. This is an opportunity to test potential solutions, and I will be interested to see what happens now that the issue has been made explicit.

You are, of course, spot on with regard to the website. However, a new Vice Chair Communications would probably be the person best equipped to do something about it...

sscrltt said...

As the acting VC Comms, may I just say that a great deal of time and expense has been spared to renew the current website. Our re branded website will be up in April.

Sara Scarlett