25 February 2013

The Rennard crisis from afar

The Lib Dems have been hit by a fire storm in the run up to vital elections on Thursday - not just in Eastleigh but in a number of local by-elections including the very marginal Berrylands in Kingston.

I've just watched the closing statements of the second ever Presidential debate in Kenya - where more than 14 million voters go to the polls a week today - and the minutiae of the scandal seems somewhat irrelevant.  Elections in Kenya are closely fought and last time round ended in a bout of ethnic violence that killed 1,300 and disposessed many thousands of others.  And the repercussions of which are still troubling Kenya today.

But what the Rennard crisis does show is that small volunteer organisations - dominated by a few big and professional personalities - have an inbalance in power and influence and when you add in tribal loyalties create an atmosphere where ranks easily close around the key figures.

But there is a longstanding problem in the party - wider than just the Rennard allegations and how they may or may not have been dealt with - that we really do not value the input of our members and supporters properly. Most local parties only use people as delivery or canvassing machines, a small clique carry on running the local party and new ideas are frowned upon. 

Nationally the party makes almost no effort to engage with the membership - other than to ask them for cash. Our heamorrage of membership post coalition has been exacerbated by the way we treat our wider membership. So I hope that whatever comes out of the specific investigation also leads to a wider debate about how we value and enthuse our membership in future.


  1. Our working culture needs an overhaul.

    I agree with the conclusion expressed in your last two paragraphs.

  2. Regarding the last two paragraphs: suspect that's what the survey that landed in our inboxes this week was about - and also was worrying proof of.