Sunday 11 November 2012

Big churn in the Liberal Democrats’ internal elections

The Liberal Democrats have just announced the results of their internal elections for party committees. What’s noticeable this year is an unusually big churn in the membership of these committees, with several high-profile defeats (such as Jeremy Hargreaves and David Boyle losing their places on the Federal Policy Committee).

The results don’t suggest any ideological shift; social liberals still predominate. What seems to be happening is that the competition is getting much tougher. Unless you are (in party terms) a celebrity, to win you must campaign hard and maintain all-year-round visibility (sound familiar?).

Liberator hears that Liberal Democrat peers were ‘encouraged’ to stand for the Federal Policy Committee. Of the seven peers who stood, five were elected (Sal Brinton, Tony Greaves, Chris Rennard, Jim Wallace, Phil Willis) and only two defeated (Mike German, Jonathan Marks).

There was no encouragement to former MPs to stand for the Federal Conference Committee, but four were elected (Sandra Gidley, Evan Harris, Liz Lynne, David Rendel).

Meanwhile, the forces of darkness were nowhere to be seen. That’s hardly surprising, since they never run slates for internal elections, preferring to win power and influence via generous donations to the leader’s office.

The one attempt at a right-wing slate came from Liberal Reform, the ginger group set up last year by Simon McGrath and friends. This effort scored ‘nul points’, so the party’s committees will sadly be deprived of hearing any further about ‘four-cornered liberalism’.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. May I remind both 'HR Director' and 'Graeme' of our comments policy? It's in the right-hand column. Amongst other things, it makes clear that "we will accept comments only from people who use their real, full name."

    Your comments have accordingly been removed. You are welcome to comment provided you use your real identity.

  4. Mr Titley, my full name is readily accessible and only appears as "Graeme" because of the Google account layout. Please reinstate my original post.

    Graeme Cowie

  5. It is fraudulent and defamatory to misrepresent the internal elections in the way the original poster has.

    Liberal Reform was not "set up by Simon McGrath". It was set up by Mike Bird and Zadok Day. Simon McGrath is merely an active member of Liberal Reform in the same way as an active rank and file of the SLF.

    Secondly, Liberal Reform did not run a slate. To do so would have meant LR actively sought and co-ordinated candidates for internal elections under a common platform and imposed in some way a level of control over campaign activity or policies promoted. This simply didn't happen. The closest thing to a "slate" in this circumstance was that a number of individuals, who are, first and foremost, members of the Liberal Democrats, and secondly either members of Liberal Reform, or broad supporters of their aims, stood just like any other individual can for these elections, and that they sought votes from, among other people, other voting reps who happened also to be members of Liberal Reform, the SLF, or simply the general party members.

    That's not a slate. That's an election.

    Please rescind your inaccurate statements and understand that if you must *insist* on being so brazenly partisan and cavalier with facts that the internet is probably an inappropriate forum for you to air your views.

    Kind Regards
    Graeme Cowie

  6. @Graeme - Thank you for revealing your true identity. Let's deal with the points in your two comments one by one.

    First, Google's account layout does not prevent anyone from using their full name. If you chose to register using only your first name, you have only yourself to blame for falling foul of our comments policy. If you want to understand the logic behind our policy, read this recent posting:

    Second, the allegation that my original post is "fraudulent and defamatory" is absurd hyperbole. There is nothing in your subsequent remarks that justifies such a ridiculous accusation.

    Third, so Simon McGrath (who, incidentally, is an old friend of mine, despite our political differences) was not technically a founder of Liberal Reform. But that is an easy mistake to make, given that (a) Simon made a public call for supporters for such a group a year before LR was launched, and (b) Simon was one of the names on the LR website when LR was first launched.

    Fourth, perhaps if LR had a run a slate, it might have got some of its members elected.

    Fifth, "brazenly partisan"? Of course! That is one of the things Liberator does, we've done it for 42 years, and we do it rather well. We have a legitimate viewpoint, we've never pretended to be neutral in the party's debates and why should we?

    Finally, your generally hysterical tone, given the triviality of your complaints, suggests that you have no sense of proportion. You are therefore hardly in a position to question whether "the internet is probably an inappropriate forum for you to air your views".

    Kindest regards
    Simon Titley

  7. In turn:

    1. Identity never concealed. The only reason my name does not appear in full is because of the standard Google layout. If you took the time to view my actual Google profile, accessible within two clicks of this page, you would see my full name. It is factually inaccurate that I registered with Google using only my first name (indeed that is impossible as surname is a required field: more fail for you). Nevertheless, I am impressed that your comments moderation policy has the three-fold unreality of thinking that pseudonym = troll, not full name = anonymous and young person = not credible to respond on a matter of legitimate debate. The third of that holy trinity is a particularly illiberal stance, but good luck with that.

    2. Yes the statements are fraudulent and defamatory. They are untrue. They are deliberately misleading, and they clearly have some objective of personal gratification and to discredit those who stand in your way of achieving particular goals within the Lib Dems.

    3. It's not an "easy mistake to make". He has never claimed to be one of the founding members, and merely signed up to the group that other people set-up. That its online presence went live quite a while after it was founded is neither here nor there.

    4. Perhaps if LR ran a slate, you'd have been correct to say they'd run a slate. Will you withdraw your factually inaccurate statement? It is not something that the membership of Liberal Reform have ever decided to do, and as far as I can see there is no intention to change that position. I know that I and several others within LR would have been against a slate because it is too prescriptive and we're not that kind of organisation.

    5. A legitimate viewpoint is founded on facts. Your post was founded on fiction.

    That covers things nicely

    Graeme Cowie

  8. What are you smoking, Graeme?

    The original posting was one view of the party's internal elections. You are free to disagree with it, but to resort to such intemperate language ("deliberately misleading", "fraudulent", "defamatory", "fiction") over relatively minor issues suggests you have no sense of proportion.

    If you get this hot under the collar about the arcane matter of whether Simon McGrath was a founder of Liberal Reform, I dread to think what you're like on issues that really matter.

    Frankly, your latest comment crosses the border into personal abuse and breaches our comments policy. But rather than remove it, I shall leave it here so that readers can see what a silly little organisation Liberal Reform is.

    This correspondence is now closed.

  9. POSTSCRIPT: From a webpage on Liberal Reform's website (titled "Elections to Internal Party Committees" and dated October 15, 2012, at

    "There’s a fantastic number of candidates, including two founding members of Liberal Reform:

    Simon McGrath for Federal Conference Committee
    Nick Thornsby for Federal Policy Committee.

    We hope you will consider supporting them."

    Readers can judge for themselves whether it is "fraudulent and defamatory" to suggest (a) that Simon McGrath is a founder of Liberal Reform, or (b) whether Liberal Reform ran a slate.