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Welcome to High Peak Liberal Democrats!

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

The United Kingdom has a proud tradition of fairness. Many of the most fundamental components of our modern society were created by Liberals, such as the introduction of state pensions, unemployment benefits, health insurance and free secondary education.It is now hard to imagine what this country would be like without those things, but when Liberals introduced them they were regarded as radical ideas that threatened the status quo. More recently Liberal Democrats have continued to challenge both Labour and the Conservatives on crucial matters such as the invasion of Iraq and "plans" (using the term loosely) for a Hard Brexit, that even on the Government's own figures will incur long-lasting damange to the British economy.

But today's Liberal Democrats are much more than just a collection of anti-Brexit campaigners. We want to help make this country into a stronger, fairer society. The Liberal Democrats, through the work of MPs such as Lynn Featherstone, Danny Alexander, Stephen Webb and David Laws were able to introduce Same-sex Marriages, greatly raised Income Tax thresolds (freeing many of our least well-paid workers from paying Income Tax), pension reforms and free, nutritious school meals for all infant school pupils and a Pupil Premium to provide targeted help to ensure children from poorer families aren't held back.

The Liberal Democrats are unafraid to champion less fashionable causes. We speak up for those who who struggle to have their voice heard. Norman Lamb has campaigned for many years for mental health funding to be increased. Sadly the Conservative government too often selects mental health facilities as the first to be cut back, as has happened to Spencer Ward in Buxton's Cavendish Hospital this year. Only the Liberal Democrats are honest enough to admit that providing the NHS we need will mean that we have to pay a bit more in tax to fund it.

If you want to help make Britain a fairer, more tolerant and more successful society, please join us. We are fighting to keep Britain in the EU which helps ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for us and our children. We are fighting to ensure proper, sustainable funding for the NHS. We are fighting homelessness and believe nobody should have to sleep rough.

The Constituency Party of the High Peak Liberal Democrats is managed by an Executive Committee which is elected annually. It manages the affairs of the party within the High Peak.

The Executive consists of a Constituency President, Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Data Officer and Ordinary members. Meetings are held regularly. Please contact the secretary at secretary@highpeaklibdems.org.uk for more information.

We are one of the six counties which make up the East Midlands Region of the Liberal Democrats, which oversees matters such as the selection of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates.

In common with all constituencies of the Liberal Democrat Party we follow national policies which are voted on at conference, taking our lead from the party headquarters at Cowley Street in London.

Recent updates

  • John Marriott
    Article: Jun 18, 2018
    By John Marriott in Liberal Democrat Voice

    I am one of those with a fascination for history, who sometimes indulge in the practice of 'What if?'. Some of you may know what I mean; but, if not, here are a few examples. Let's start with 1066. What if King Harald had actually defeated Duke William of Normandy at the battle of Hastings? Scroll forward some eight hundred years and ask yourself what if President Abraham Lincoln had not attended Ford's Theatre on that fateful night in April 1865? What if Archduke Franz Ferdinand's driver hadn't taken a detour in Sarajevo in June 1914 or what if Adolf Hitler hadn't shortened his speech at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich in November 1939 and left early? And finally, more recently and perhaps nearer to home, what if Nick Clegg hadn't accepted David Cameron's 'generous offer' in May 2010? I'm sure you get the idea.

  • Christine Jardine
    Article: Jun 17, 2018
    By Christine Jardine MP

    The Home Secretary should make medicinal cannabis available to all who need it, says Christine Jardine, after Sajid Javid granted an emergency licence for Billy Caldwell to be treated with the drug. His supply had been confiscated by customs earlier this week.

    Christine is supporting her constituentKaren Gray, whose son Murray has Epilepsy and needs the drug to control his seizures:

  • Crowds at a training session LD Conference 2017
    Article: Jun 17, 2018
    By Sarah Green in Liberal Democrat Voice

    Last year I became Chair of the new Federal Training Committee, set up to make sure the Party's training meets our long term needs. I have to admit that delivering training is one of the most fulfilling things I do as a Liberal Democrat. Whilst winning elections is intoxicating, there's nothing quite like bumping into someone months after a training event and hearing them excitedly tell you about the next steps you've inspired them to take.

  • Cable and Liberal Democrats
    Article: Jun 16, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election in Liberal Democrat Newswire

    Last but by no means least is where similar discussions in the past have tended to start (and not get much beyond): what rights should registered supporters have compared to fully paid-up members?

    Aside from the question of voting rights at conference and in ballots, there's a range of factors to consider.

    Attending events: at a local level, this happens frequently already. The non-member deliverer gets invited to the thank you party. The non-member donor is allowed to buy tickets for a fundraising dinner. But for federal conference, in particular, there's an obvious change to make: to allow registered supporters to come and be inspired without having to pay the (rightly) eye-watering rates reserved for non-members who are media, lobbyists and similar at the moment. That same logic can also be applied to across other events, such as state and regional conferences, too.

    Party policy working groups: these are mostly, in effect, restricted to party members. But they don't have to be, and indeed including a wider spread of sympathetic expertise in their membership could bring many benefits. Allowing registered supporters to apply to be members of such groups would still keep the safeguards of the current appointment process; it would also open up it more.

    Becoming a party candidate: allowing non-members to run as official party candidates would be highly controversial and raise the question about what the point of membership at all is. However, that's not quite the same as saying you have to be a member all the way along the process. In its most restrictive form, some party candidate processes require you to be a member for 12 months before you can go through the approval process (which can take several more months) which then, in turn, means that you can apply to be a candidate.

    Parts of that process could be opened up to registered supporters too, such as allowing them to apply for approval and so to learn from that process more about whether or not being a candidate is for them before kicking in the requirement to join at a later stage.

    This is also, whisper it quietly, what many local parties already do: they hunt out people who would be great councillors who are not yet members and take them through a process that doesn't make joining the party and waiting months the initial step even though it does involve joining at some point. Having an easier route in than 'pay up and wait a year' has produced many great and dedicated Lib Dem councillors. The rest of the party could learn from what can work so well for local government.

    Voting rights: the big one, in many ways. Should voting remain restricted to paid-up members? There's a range of voting rights that can be argued over:

  • Cable and Liberal Democrats
    Article: Jun 15, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election in Liberal Democrat Newswire

    That branding, of course, won't work if it doesn't have the substance behind it to substantiate it. Attracting people to be a part of the fight for causes they believe in requires the party to continue to step up its running of issue-led campaigns - most notably the Stop Brexit campaign.

    It also needs to fit with the rest of the party: both to tap the extra capacity to recruit and service supporters that comes from doing so and also because the best use of supporters is to tap them to help deliver our overall strategy of building up a grassroots campaigning movement. That means fully involving the grassroots in the supporters scheme.

    It's also the way to broaden out the party's diversity - having a registered supporters that party bodies who reach out to particular communities can recruit into.

    After branding, therefore, comes data: the data from the 200,000 secret-ish club plus that for the various ad hoc local lists around the country, not to mention party bodies who do outreach, need to be joined up in an integrated way that supports multiple parts of the party using it. One shared scheme rather than disparate, unintegrated and not mutually supporting schemes. That requires some hard thought on the best database(s) to use, the best way to share data and any necessary updates in the party's data rules.

    It should also involve copying that Canadian Liberal tactic mentioned above: if some data needs to be protected in order to maximise the fundraising potential for the party, then it should be done on the basis of local parties and party bodies who know what they're doing and can show they can run excellent comms getting access rather than a blanket ban.

    This will play to the different strengths of different parts of the organisation much better:

  • Article: Jun 14, 2018

    Atos and Capita must improve the delivery of Personal Independence Payments (Pip) or face losing their contracts, MP Frank Field has said. The government says it is looking at extending the firms' contracts by two years to "better allow for a stable transition to any new provision". And it was developing IT systems to move some of the work in-house.

  • Article: Jun 14, 2018

    Vulnerable old and disabled people will see cuts to vital care services and higher charges, council chiefs say. The annual budget survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services shows councils expect to spend £21.4bn this year in England. While this is a rise from £20.8bn last year, the cost of inflation combined with growing demand means this will not be enough, ADASS said. The warning comes as ministers prepare to unveil plans to reform the system. A green paper on social care is expected to be published in the coming months.

  • Nick Clegg
    Article: Jun 14, 2018
    By Nick Clegg

    Can art defeat fascism? In the latest edition of ANGER MANAGEMENT, award-winning author, columnist and women's rights activist Elif Shafak talks to Nick about the seductive dangers of sameness, how Western countries' greatest weakness was our belief that we'd won all the big battles… and how we'll never turn back the tide of anger until we understand where it comes from.

  • university
    Article: Jun 14, 2018
    By Ruvi Ziegler in Cherwell

    Oxford associate professor and former Lib Dem council candidate fears Brexit will undermine Britain's research status

    Brace yourselves: Brexit winter is coming. In more flexible employment sectors, 'Brexodus' is picking up speed: according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 130,000 EU27 citizens emigrated between September 2016-17, the highest number since the 2008 financial crisis. In considering the Brexit effect on EU27 academics, three words come to mind: uncertainty, hostility, and community.

  • Chair speaking at Conference
    Article: Jun 14, 2018
    By Tahir Maher in Liberal Democrat Voice

    Congratulations on being elected the new FCC Chair

    Thank you! It is a really exciting job to have; one of the very best in the party.

    What changes do you think that Andrew Wiseman brought to the FCC as Chair?

    Andrew was a great chair. He steered us through the immediate pre-coalition period, though the years we were in government and then the period of re-building afterwards. He oversaw increases in attendance, vast increases in commercial revenue from 2010 and more recently the attendance of huge numbers of new members at conference. One of the most significant changes that he successfully navigated us through was the abolition of conference representatives and the move to one member, one vote. He will be a very hard act to follow.

  • Cable and Liberal Democrats
    Article: Jun 14, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election in Liberal Democrat Newswire

    The mechanics of a registered supporter system are important and can be controversial - especially if they involve questions of internal democracy. They are, however, not the whole picture and indeed in the past, such as during Charles Kennedy's time as leader, muted discussions about opening up the party to a wider network of supporters quickly got sucked into an internal, mechanistic focus.

    That isn't the whole picture, as consideration of why you're a member or supporter of any other organisations quickly shows. Sometimes we sign up for what we get. I used to be a member of the British Film Institute to get cheaper cinema tickets and when my visits dropped off, I ceased. I didn't join to cast a vote for BFI internal contests, even though membership gave me that. (In fact, even as someone who reads all the bits of paper they are sent, I found them quite baffling. What were all those coded references to choices of building really about?)

    But often we sign up to express support. That's why I am (I think) a member of the friends of a local green space - I wanted to support them, I gave them a donation and I'm happy to occasionally amplify their messages online. It's about showing support for a good cause.

    Likewise, a registered supporters scheme needs to be more than those dull words indicate (and why I've toyed with calling it a 'friends of…' scheme). Rather it needs branding as an outward-looking, welcoming and new way of involving people in fighting for the causes that are important to them.

    A good related example of the power of branding an initiative effectively has been Your Liberal Britain's collaboration with former party leader Paddy Ashdown for the Ashdown Prize for Radical Thought. The mechanics at the heart of the prize are little different from the support the party offers to anyone to submit a conference motion. If anything, the Ashdown Prize is a more convoluted process. However, the presentation of the scheme meant that while there are usually well under 100 motions submitted to a federal conference, the Ashdown Prize generated 1,140 suggestions. As a rough calculation, having a differently presented way of submitting ideas generated in one go more submissions than a decade of federal conferences have secured.

    We already do a bit to involve registered supporters. Those emails with 'exclusive' early opportunities to view the next party political broadcast, for example, have not always been member-only. Those are baby steps for what could be possible.

    Thinking more like a broader supporter organisation would be necessary. A chance to pose questions for Nick Clegg to ask in his next podcast? A book club featuring the likes of Jo Swinson and Lynne Featherstone? That's the sort of content we would need to experiment with.

    As such content takes time to think of, create and manage it enhances the value of having a registered supporters scheme that is one the whole party contributes to, rather than one which simply places more pressure on a small number of staff.

  • Cable and Liberal Democrats
    Article: Jun 13, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election in Liberal Democrat Newswire

    There's also another reason to create a proper registered supporters scheme. The party has unintentionally created one already, and it's large: it has around 200,000 people in it, double the party's current membership.

    This creation wasn't a deliberate plan. No conference motion was passed. No party committee gave it the green light. What's more, most people in the party don't even know it exists.

    Its data is kept mostly secret from the party's frontline campaigners - and in turn, the party's grassroots campaigning is neither harnessed to recruit people to it nor is it directly aided by the current scheme's incarnation.

    Accidental, top-down, divorced from our grassroots and in effect secret. That doesn't sound ideal and - as I'll go on to detail - it isn't.

    It also means the default, what happens if we do nothing, isn't not to have a registered supporters scheme. It's to carry on with the one we've got.

    The existing list of 200,000 plus people is the incidental side-effect of the very successful efforts to grow the party's membership. A large part of that has been running online campaigns to get people signed up with their email addresses and into a funnel of activity which aims to raise money and turn them into members. The overwhelming focus is on generating members and money - and given that's the remit the different staff working on this over the years were tasked with, it's worth emphasising that it's no criticism that this is just what they did - and did very successfully.

    But the incidental side-effect was to build up this large database of people who have signed up to support at least one campaign (registered their support, one could say) and who don't become members. They get some servicing from party HQ: but it's from a small team whose main priority is money and members.

    What's more, having the whole system reliant on a small number of people in one place greatly reduces its potential benefits. It means that the huge volunteer capacity in local parties and party bodies across the country isn't tapped to help involve and motivate registered supporters - or to recruit more.

    The rest of the party doesn't get to know who they all are, unless you sort of engineer it backwards by looking for petition data added to Connect that you know hasn't come from your own local party. But even then, you don't get to see their email addresses, and it's nothing like as convenient or helpful or complete as having an actual list.

    It also means that this pool of registered supporters is not integrated with the mini-pools that exist all around the party, such as the collections of non-member supporters who different local parties have in their leaflet delivery networks or on their social event invite lists.

    The ability to tell registered supporters about what is happening locally and how they can get involved locally is massively curtailed by this HQ-only approach.

    It is an approach whose roots are understandable. When I've asked HQ staff before about being able to access email addresses for the registered supporters for regional or local campaigning the answer has been that they don't want just anyone in the party contacting these people in case that undermines the effectiveness of the money and membership sells people are taken through.

    Not without logic, for sure, but also a long way short of optimal given the way it pans out: not integrated with the other lists of supporters in the party, not available to directly help grassroots campaigning, only able to be serviced by a small number of over-worked staff and focused overwhelmingly on being a money-raising operation rather than the creation of a grassroots campaigning movement.

    Again, there's a leaf that can be taken from the Canadian Liberal Party's book: they too didn't let just anyone in the party access their new supporters data. But what they did was set a quality standard for their equivalent of local parties: if you demonstrate the ability to run high-quality communications then you get access to the supporter data. That can even be turned into a positive incentive to train, learn and improve - as there's a benefit available to your local party if you do so.

    So how can we take the existing de facto scheme and make it into one that maximises the benefits for the party and fits our organisational priorities: