Saturday sees the first full meeting of our new Steering Group, created by the Federal Board in a pilot to find ways of improving how we run the party. As the Thornhill Election Review found in frank detail, failing to run the party well hinders our election prospects.
Elections will be very much on our mind as one of our major items of business is next May’s elections. The combination of general elections in Scotland and Wales plus two rounds of local elections in one will make this much more than a usual May. How much normal party activity to put aside so we can focus on the elections will be one of the issues discussed. It’s always tempting to stop everything for the next election, but do that too often and many long-term problems build up. Some careful judgements will be needed.
We’ll also be discussing plans for developing the party’s strategy now that we have a new leader in place, including hearing from our new Director of Strategy and from Ed Davey.
Another big topic will be budget priorities for next year for the federal party. Traditionally, party committees have been involved rather late in the budget process, which reduced the ability of elected people to influence the outcome. Continuing the pattern from the start of this year, we’re making sure that the relevant party committees get to look at the priorities going into the budget and the basic parameters for it. That way, the debates and decisions will have a real influence on the final budget.
We will also be checking on progress in implementing the Thornhill Review and in improving our work on diversity, both important to our success not only next year but in the years beyond that too.
Another area we need to improve is the engagement with and support for party bodies such as SAOs and AOs. The Party Bodies Review Group, set up with a new remit earlier this year, will be presenting its draft recommendations following an extensive round of consultation.
Also on the agenda will be the latest data on how our complaints process is working and whether we need to make any additional rule changes or definitions to help with it. We will also need to set plans for reviewing our internal election rules in the light of our experiences during the leadership election.
I’ll be doing a report back after the meeting. But before then, if you have any questions, feedback or insight to share, please do not hesitate to get in touch: [email protected].