Let’s make it five in a row

11 Oct 2023

Here’s the latest report back from Party President, Mark Pack.

Collage of photos of Lib Dem by-election photos, along with a photo of Emma Holland-Lindsay in Mid Bedfordshire

You know what would be even better than four record book rewriting Parliamentary by-election wins in a row? Five.

That’s the opportunity we have with the Mid Bedfordshire by-election and our great candidate, Emma Holland-Lindsay. The issues that are big on the doorsteps are ones that will be familiar to us from campaigning all around the country - people feeling taken for granted by the Conservatives, worried about the cost of living and angry about the state of the NHS. And they think sewage should be sent to treatment plants rather than into our rivers and onto our beaches.

Polling day is 19 October and it’s absolutely one of those contests where people on the ground, talking to voters and visiting their letterboxes, will determine the outcome. It might have been a rock solid safe Conservative seat in the past, but no more!

What Have the Liberals Ever Done For Us?

That’s the title of an excellent new publication from the Liberal Democrat History Group. It comes with a preface by Ed Davey in which he says, “When you need to put your feet up after door-knocking, or to energise yourself for the next delivery round, read it to remember what we stand for and what we have done with the votes that people have lent us – and be inspired to campaign for even greater achievements in the future.”

More information about the new booklet is here and you can watch the launch event with Layla Moran, Sarah Olney, Wendy Chamberlain and Liz Barker here.

Bournemouth Conference

Many thanks to everyone who helped make such a success of our autumn conference, especially everyone who has contributed to our pre-manifesto, For A Fair Deal. That now gives us both a clear up-to-date prospectus of our overall policies and also (in the second chapter) sets our clearly our vision for the country.

If you missed out on our conference - or want to relive moments of it - you can (re)watch all the action on our website.

Conference kindly agreed the Board report, confirming the appointment of Tom Hood to the Federal Appeals Panel (FAP), and also passed our motion on the party’s finances for the next year. This froze our minimum membership subscriptions in recognition of the cost of living crisis and also included an agreed settlement with our three state parties on our mutual financial positions. 

Answers to questions for the Board that were not taken in person at Bournemouth due to the time limits will appear on the party website as part of the conference reporting.

Our Party Awards winners

One of the best parts of the President’s role at our conferences is handing out our Party Awards to recognise the work of amazing colleagues around the country.

Our Bournemouth winners were:

Caroline Pidgeon AM receives an award from Party President Mark Pack

The President’s Award - Caroline Pidgeon

First elected to the London Assembly in 2008 and serving ever since, Caroline announced last Autumn that she would be standing down next May. Having also served as a councillor in Southwark for many years, and also as the Lib Dem Mayoral candidate in 2016, Caroline was and is an absolute prizefighter.

Fred Fisher receives an award from Party President Mark Pack on behalf of Simon Mackenzie

The Harriet Smith Liberal Democrat Distinguished Service Award - Simon Mackenzie

Awarded to a Party Member showing outstanding commitment and service to the Party, Simon's innovative solutions for processing the marked electoral register have saved thousands of hours of manual data entry. He is also a long-time activist for the party in Stratford-on-Avon, giving us a winning edge against our competitors in so many ways.

Fred Fisher from the Lib Dem Software Group collected the award on Simon's behalf.

Millie Earl receives an award from Party President Mark Pack

The Belinda Eyre-Brook Award - Millie Earl

Awarded to an individual who has shown outstanding dedication to our elected representatives in their local areas, Millie is recognised as an exceptional multi-tasking, multi-skilled and unflappable campaigner, who always manages to be kind and caring. Without her the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole campaign of 2023 would not have got near to the impressive 13 gains they achieved - and leadership of the council.

Joe Harris receives an award from Party President Mark Pack on behalf of Oadby and Wigston Lib Dems

The Dadabhai Naoroji Award - Oadby & Wigston Lib Dems

Awarded to the local party which has done the most to improve our diversity and inclusion, this award rightly goes to Oadby & Wigston Lib Dems. A fantastic outreach programme plus local election wins mean the council is now led by our first ever non-white female council leader, Cllr Samia Haq.

Cllr Joe Harris, Leader of the LGA Liberal Democrat Group, collected the award on behalf of Oadby & Wigston Lib Dems.

Rebecca Turner and Liverpool Lib Dems receives an award from Party President Mark Pack

The David Penhaligon Award - Liverpool Lib Dems

Liverpool Lib Dems gained four seats in the May City Council elections and they have gained dozens of new members since. They topped the Lib Dem league tables for this quarter's recruitment, with the majority being young female members. They are rightful winners of this award for the local party with the most impressive membership recruitment and involvement of their members and supporters

Vikki Slade receives an award from Party President Mark Pack

The Patsy Calton Award (awarded by Liberal Democrat Women) - Vikki Slade

Vikki is the leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, which we took control of in May and where she is now leading the team cleaning up the mess left by the Conservatives. She is also our candidate for Mid Dorset and Poole, deputy chair of both the Local Infrastructure and Net Zero Board at the LGA, and the Lib Dem Campaign for Gender Balance. This all makes Vikki a worthy winner of this award which recognises exceptional women in the party.

In news of other awards, congratulations to Rebecca Cave, one of the members of our Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee (FASC) who won the John Stokdyk Outstanding Contribution Award at the 2023 Accounting Excellence Awards.

Congratulations also to our deputy leader Daisy Cooper whose health campaigning has been recognised with the Parliamentary award for access to dentistry by the Association of Dental Groups.

Other Board business

Two of the big items for our November meeting will be reviewing the detailed proposed figures for our 2024 budget and also taking a look at the governance arrangements for the next general election. This was a big area of concern for our 2019 election review, and although I am sure we’ve made very good progress since then, given the damage if we get this wrong, it’s wise to have a fresh look at our plans. 

We also hope to receive by then a report from the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee (FASC) looking at the issues around the number of vacancies we’ve had on the Federal Appeals Panel (FAP). If FASC recommends any formal rules changes, that will need to come to conference, and doubtless we’ll have a debate about whether to try to to do that quickly or wait till after the general election.

My December report will include more details of what we decide on these and other issues.


Do you have questions on any of this report, or other Lib Dem matters? Then please drop me a line on president@libdems.org.uk. Do also get in touch if you’d like to invite me to do a Zoom call with your local party or party body.




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