Martin Tod for Federal Executive

What should a 21st century party look like?

How can we reinvent ourselves to be the kind of inclusive, open and effective party that can carry the liberal banner forward in the coming century?

The debate about OMOV got me thinking about the kind of party we want to be.  I started to lay out some thinking about this in my speech about it.

Currently it feels like we’re stuck with a 1980s party in a 21st century world.

There’s a lot that’s good: the way we involve our members when others don’t being the most obvious one. But there’s a lot that needs fixing.

In the short term, our priority needs to be winning as many seats as possible in 2015 – and I set out what I think can be done on FE to support that in the manifesto below.

But longer term, we need a real drains up on the party (and the party constitution) to see how we can

  • reinvent involvement and democracy
  • open up more to the people who share our goals
  • support and enable people who want to change things whether as elected representatives or as campaigners
  • start learning again – we used to be brilliant at learning and creating new approaches from the bottom-up – now we’re too often imposing things from the top down
  • simplify how we operate - especially in England
  • become exemplary employers and provide a totally safe environment for people to get involved
  • all the while making sure we have the effective central and local operations we need to win the changes we want to see.

The Federal Executive needs to lead that.

If you want to ask a question or leave a comment, or email me, please do and I promise to respond here online.

First preferences appreciated – I only just got on last time!


Experienced campaigner

  • Campaigning Lib Dem Councillor in Hampshire – with particular interest in health, housing and sustainable transport.
  • Party experience at every level incl. local party chair, membership secretary, data officer, election agent, PPC (3 times) and member of the FE (twice).
  • Social Liberal with a strong commitment to civil liberties:
    • Member of the Social Liberal Forum (SLF) Council.
    • Leading organiser of the Secret Courts campaign
  • Real world experience – Chief Executive of a health charity, worked for many years as a senior executive in the private sector

Against complacency

A record of action:

  • As a member of FE, pushed to get the failed ‘party of protest vs. party of government’ message binned by party strategists – and now it’s gone.
  • Pushed for more differentiation vs. the other parties on our vision for the country – and now it’s starting to happen.
  • Challenged complacency about the speed of candidate selection. It’s now getting the attention it needs.

A promise of more:

  • Make sure we continue to communicate clearly that we stand alongside people for change and are never satisfied with the status quo.
  • Continue to ensure we lay out a different vision for the future vs. other parties
  • Do what it takes to make sure we have a full slate of candidates for 2015.

For rebuilding the party

A record of action:

  • A track record of winning membership prizes in 4 different constituencies – large and small.
  • Served on the FE membership group. Strongly backed the new incentives to local parties to recruit new members.
  • Helped win support for ‘one member, one vote’ – making it easier for members to come to conference and get involved.

A promise of more:

Before the election

  • Deliver one member one vote for conference (OMOV) as promised – including the amendments requiring more openness and accountability for party committees

After the election, sort out:

  • Re-activating our membership [a major reason I backed OMOV]
  • How we simplify things now we have fewer volunteers to run our Byzantine processes. This includes a simpler, more transparent and more effective party structure for England
  • Accountability and governance
    • The FE and its subcommittees aren’t working properly
    • Clear accountability (to avoid a rerun of the European campaign messaging fiasco amongst other things)
  • A proper disciplinary process
  • A more professional and organised way of employing party’s staff

Lots to do – and with your support, I’d like to help ensure it happens…

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