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Presidency and Finance

September 15, 2010

One of the most senior figures (arguably the most senior) in the Liberal Democrats is the President of the Federal Party. The exact role of the President is buried in the depths of the Constitution, but Lady Mark Valladares, the consorthusband of current President Baroness Ros Scott, has prepared a guide to the sort of thing that being President involves.

A job that requires 30h/week of commitment, largely based in London, with no salary, as one of the most important people keeping the party together? No wonder most of the previous tenants have been South East-based, independently wealthy or supported by partners with income. People have invited me to stand, but I don’t have the money to do it instead of my day job, nor the time to do it on top. While I wouldn’t want anybody to stand for the Presidency just for a salary, I think it’s fundementally wrong that the closest thing to an official “voice of the grassroots” position de facto excludes most of our grassroots.

So does Andrew Hickey, an occasional commenter here and author of one of the sub-half-dozen Lib Dem blogs I make an effort to read. He’s set up a PledgeBank for 100 people to commit ¬£10/month to financially support a Presidential candidate if she gets elected. I’ve committed to the pledge (and will do so for pretty much any candidate who is not based in the South East, independently wealthy, an MP etc.), and I would like people reading this to do so as well.

This isn’t about whether you like Jennie as a candidate. The Liberal Democrats should be about ideas, not money. The Presidential election should be about who has the best ideas for moving the Party forward, for representing the grassroots inside the Westminster bubble. It should not be about who can afford to stand.

I’m also going to suggest that the Federal Finance Committee look into significantly increasing the expenses / stipend for the President to allow a wider range of Liberal Democrats to compete for the most important jobs in the Party. Only then will we truly be able to elect the best possible President.

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  1. Andrew Hickey
    September 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Absolutely agreed here (as I’m sure you already knew). It’s not so much about whether Jennie is the best candidate (though given the people who have put their names forward so far, I think she is – but I can think of people I’d vote for ahead of her) but about whether *if the party think she is the best candidate* she should be prevented from doing the job by being poor and Northern.

    I’d certainly make a similar pledge were you to stand, incidentally…

  2. Jennie
    September 17, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Thank you for this, both of you.

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