Wednesday, December 03, 2014

International Relations Committee - some initial observations from a new kid (elect) on the block

So, I have attended my first meeting of my Party's International Relations Committee, having kindly been invited to attend in order to get a feel for it before I formally take up my role as a directly elected member on 1 January. How did it go, and what do I think?

Firstly, Robert Woodthorpe Browne is a very efficient committee chair - we ran pretty much to time, which is always good - and a old-fashioned political operator (that's a compliment, by the way). His experience, contacts and political awareness would be very hard to duplicate, and someone would be have to be very good to be a credible replacement.

The International Office, led by Iain Gill, is enthusiastic and keen to engage. They are aware of the need to be sensitive in how assistance is given to our sister parties across the globe, practical in how that help might be delivered, and pragmatic in achieving their goals whilst factoring in the needs of the wider party.

So far, so good. Is there a niche for me?

I find that most committees need a bureaucrat sometimes, but my engagement in the finances of ALDE via its Financial Advisory Committee already appears to be helpful and my party knowledge and desire for inclusivity may offer some ideas for future interaction with the wider Party.

This evening's meeting was interesting too, with talk of the Africa Liberal Network (expanding fast) and the Council of Asian Liberal Democrats, of study visits and the activities of Liberal Youth, the British Group of Liberal International and the Liberal Democrat European Group. Gathered around the table are a collection of highly informed, very experienced internationalists - former European Parliamentarians, academics and diplomats, with a leavening of enthusiasts - although a few more women would be good.

I have a few things I want to work on over the coming year, and I get the sense that, as long as I work collaboratively, there is the possibility of changing a few things that might make a difference. So, we'll see how it goes...

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