Neil, Louise – The problem for me is that this isn’t a one-off, but a continuing example of missives coming out from the centre that completely fail to engage with the members as adults. (See a lot of the posts in Jennie Rigg’s top ten of the year, for instance) There’s been a consistent issue throughout this year with the leadership not listening to the membership and being told that the content of that email should be “the basis for every communication we make” is not the right approach, I feel.
Working together is important, but it needs both sides to be willing to do it – and quite frankly, the attitude I hear from the leadership is that working together means doing what we’re told, not them compromising on anything.
Edit: Also, see this post by Jon Worth which is very interesting on the difference in the way we work in politics and real life.]]>
We’re definitely eccentric free-thinkers and join the Lib Dems in a sense to exert those values. But we need to be honest with ourselves, how much of this is really just a collective moan because we feel we aren’t getting policy into government – but when you look at what conference passes this can be completely contradictory – for instance great motion on housing passed then opposition to planning reform passed.
We both need to work together and either leadership or membership getting offended and throwing rocks at each other does the party no good whatsoever.]]>
Yes, we Liberals don’t like to be ‘told’ what to think, but I don’t think that email does that at all. Agreeing an effective message for our party at this time and encouraging local campaigners to broadcast it is not the same thing at all as ‘telling us what to think’. It is just what an effective political party does.
One of the big problems we’ve had up until this point is that we haven’t been clear about what our message is, and if we had any messaging at all it wasn’t being produced by people who understood how we campaign.
And the other article by Simon Titley you link to misses the point even more badly. Yes, the Obama campaign employed hundreds of local organisers, but they didn’t organise ‘grassroots campaigning’ in the sense that Simon suggests or you and I understand it. They were employed and directed by the Obama campaign to organise tightly controlled activity such as voter registration drives and early voting campaigns, to recruit and manage large teams of volunteers who equally worked to carefully controlled targets, and delivered a centrally developed message to key target groups (so called micro-targeting).
In other words what our party now appears to be doing, under the auspices of the excellent Ryan Coetzee who actually is a grassroots campaigner himself, is much more in line with how Obama’s campaign worked than we have been up until now.
And if there is one person I would compare Ryan Coetzee to it is Chris Rennard, in fact several leading Lib Dem campaigners went down to SA to help and advise Ryan and his team during their period of growth.
Personally I don’t see any contradiction between being “On Message, In Volume, Over Time” in our public campaigning and at the same time having “a party that’s open and democratic, run by the membership and fighting for liberalism.” We need both.
PS I do agree with you that we’re not fighting for ‘centrism’.]]>