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Why I decided to #backpack

The Lib Dems' internal elections have rolled around, and I still seem to have voting rights (am honestly not sure when I last paid a subscription). The biggest choice that's up is the vote for party president, and as I have recorded my votes for that post before (Farron 2010, Scott 2008, Öpik 2004) I shall do so again.

I'm not sure how I know Mark Pack, but I think it was through student politics in the very early years of the Lib Dems (or SLD as they then were). He must be a couple of years younger than me and was at York when I was at Cambridge. We almost became professional colleagues a couple of years ago (our mutual employers came close to merging but called it off). I also reviewed his book on winning elections when it came out. He has a good sense of organisation and connecting aspirations with reality.

I don't know CJ (as Christine Jardine, the other candidate is generally known), and have nothing against her personally; but she is an MP for a Scottish seat that was regained in 2017; I tend to think that other things being equal, MPs need to concentrate on retaining their seats for the imminent election and not rush to take on other responsibilities.

Often I've taken endorsements into consideration when making theses choices. The only endorser listed on either candidate's website either candidate who I know is Catherine Bearder MEP, who is backing Mark. I also see an endorsement from my old friend Ed Fordham on Lib Dem Voice. So that confirms my general thinking: I'm voting for Mark Pack.

(I see that I voted for the winner on previous occasions.)

Ordinary members now seem to have votes in all the party's committees, whose franchise was previously restricted to conference delegates. I'm not sure if this is an improvement, but I'm exercising my mandate. For the other committees, I basically chose the people who I knew and ranked them ahead of the people I didn't know. I knew seven of the candidates for the two international committees, so put Hannah Bettsworth at the top (we need to encourage young activist women) and ranked the other six (yes, if you're reading this, I did put you second), leaving the rest blank

The other four elections were more difficult. One candidate running in each of them claims to be involved with an organisation that I am also quite heavily involved with. I have never heard of this person, and all of our mutual contacts on social networks are Lib Dems rather than my contacts in that organisation. The candidate's personal statement is also very badly written. So I felt I should submit a full slate of votes for the other elections, putting this person last in each case.

In three cases I did actually know one or two candidates, so I voted for Neil Fawcett for the Federal Board, Jon Ball and Liz Lynne for Federal Conference Committee and Duncan Brack and Robert Harrison for Federal Policy Committee. I ranked all the other candidates (other than the one mentioned in the previous paragraph) to boost representation from women and minorities, looking also at their number of Twitter followers and quality of presentation of the personal statement. That gave me Susan Juned as my top preference for the one other race where I had a vote.

As a not terribly well informed member with many other commitments, I can only spend a little time engaging. I am very distant from the action these days, but the Lib Dems are clearly on a roll, as well as facing some internal challenges (am very unimpressed with the recruitment of Philip Lee MP for instance). And I must say that in general I was impressed by the number of candidates - even though it makes the job of a conscientious voter much more difficult!

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Oct. 26th, 2019 10:12 pm (UTC)
Me too
Hi Nicholas. I'm voting for Pack too. I like CJ but I think her concept of the job is wrong. She has said she wants to be a very visible president, her priority being on TV a lot and presenting the party. I think that's not only a wrong assessment of the job, but as an MP she has that platform anyway - and does it very well. The president, for me, should spend their time and effort away from the cameras, working with the party staff and committees, and planning strategy with the leader. Mark has said his priorities will be Organisation and Strategy. he is also a great campaigner, knows the party inside out and he is a digital geek so will know how to strategise on our digital media presence, which I think is the key to our future success.
PS If you got a ballot paper you must still be sending a subscription to the party. Please don't cancel it! I too dropped out of things for a while but the party is still the best in the room and needs people to keep supporting it even if not active.
andrewducker
Oct. 27th, 2019 11:35 am (UTC)
Nice writeup here:
https://thoughtsofprogress.wordpress.com/2019/10/26/the-lib-dem-presidential-race/

His association with Stephen Tall would give me a lot of pause.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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