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Federal People Development Committee Report – 30 January 2018

February 13, 2018 3:12 PM
By Miranda Roberts in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat's LogoThe Party's Federal People Development Committee have had our first meeting of 2018. There was a lot to discuss - here is a quick summary of what we talked about and agreed.

First up we made a couple of important amendments to our Standing Orders. The first amendment was to create the role of Committee Clerk. This is a volunteer role, to assist the Secretary. The Clerk is not a voting member of our committee, they are purely there to help supply administrative support for the Chair and Secretary. The Committee felt this was a good way to "live our values" as the cliché goes, of using volunteers more widely to increase capacity. We later appointed a member called Nicola from Somerset to be the first post-holder of this role. In future if this vacancy arises again, it will be advertised as a potential volunteer opportunity.

The other amendments to our Standing Orders were to help the Membership and Training SubCommittees function properly. The membership of these groups was previously limited to two representatives from each State Party. That remains true today, but the Subcommittees can now co-opt more people, to help get more work done.

Then we moved on to Staff Reports. These are a routine part of our meetings. We currently receive reports from the Director for People, Rachel Palma Randle, who also reports on Membership figures while we await the appointment of the new Head of Membership and Engagement (if you would like to apply, the advert is still open until 19th Feb here )

We also received reports from Dan Purchese, Head of Training and Arfan Bhatti, Head of Candidates and Diversity. We are working with all the staff to try to expand the engagement, training and membership work that they provide. Expect to read more about those projects here on LDV as they come to fruition.

As you might expect, we had a substantial discussion about the implications of the Alderdice Report on the experience of members from Ethnic Minority groups. We feel that in the wake of the report our planned "Who's Missing?" campaign (scheduled for this summer) feels particularly appropriate. The idea of the campaign is to ask local parties to reflect on the make-up of their constituency, and then look at their members and activists and ask themselves, "who's missing?". For example, in a big University town, there should be a considerable student presence in our members and activists. If there is a sizeable ethnic minority community with a shared background, are they well represented in our members and activists?

There will need to be a lot more work on this, and a lot of different bodies will be involved in the efforts to improve our Party's diversity. We did say that we were concerned that sometimes the Party in the past has talked a good talk on diversity, but then priorities shift and funding promises dry up. We all felt this was an opportunity that was too important to be missed and are dedicated to making the changes needed. We will be coming forward with other projects across the year as they develop.

Other business included appointing Alice Thomas to the Party's new working group on the implications of the Committee for Standards in Public Life's report on recent political behaviour. You can read the CSPL report here. h

We also discussed an important item about standards of behaviour for our members. With the other parties in turmoil, we are attracting some new members who are defecting from other political homes. In the Labour Party there is currently some very unpleasant transphobia masquerading as feminism. A committee member raised a concern about how we should respond to people who join our party who share these troubling views.

The view of the committee was overwhelming - we stand for acceptance, tolerance and equality. If people join and expect to tout their hatred of any person for their appearance, gender, orientation or any other aspect of their personality, then they should be reported to the Party and disciplined using our internal procedures. This ended with a really helpful discussion of how to share the Member's Code of Conduct more widely, so expect to see more on that soon.

We meet next in late March, so look out for another report on LDV soon after that.

* Miranda Roberts is Chair of the Liberal Democrats' Federal People Development Committee