Liberal Democrat internal elections

(title highly commended in the category of ‘headlines most likely to send someone to sleep’)

I’ve done my bit for the party and completed voting in the latest round of internal federal party elections. (Now just the regional ones to go!) However, while I was filling out the final few places on the Federal Policy Committee ballot form – there’s a certain kind of evil fun in working out who you really don’t want on the committee, and is thus deserving of 63rd preference – I was struck by a few thoughts, which I thought I’d share here.

My words have been heeded – OK, it’s not entirely down to me, but the quality of information from candidates was a marked improvement on last time when I wrote this post. I don’t have the manifesto booklet from last time to compare, but people seemed a lot more willing this time to use their publicity for something other than a CV and some glittering generalities. I think that reflects that there are a lot of healthy debates going on within the party about future direction. People aren’t just setting out to manage the status quo but are talking much more about what they’ll do with an elected role.

Relaxing election rules worked – I haven’t liked any candidate’s Facebook page, but I think it’s good that they exist. What I’ve found much more useful this year is that people can actually talk in public about the fact they’re standing for election and what they want to do. So, there have been lots of blog posts from candidates, people talking about it on Twitter, and a very useful intervention by Jennie Rigg, with her questions to FPC and FCC candidates. These – and Andy Hinton’s question to Federal Executive members on accreditation – were much more important in determining where my votes went than the manifestos. Indeed, all my high preference votes for FPC and FCC went to candidates who’d answered Jennie’s survey, and she deserves lots of thanks for all the work she’s done on this.

Who should be voting? A few people have raised the question of whether the franchise for these elections should be widened from the current system of only conference representatives getting to vote in them. There’s a very strong case for widening the franchise (especially as using the internet for voting and distributing manifestos cuts the costs), but I think we have to be careful in rushing to do it, as there is the prospect of them becoming popularity contests for well-known names, as seems to happen in Labour NEC elections.

I think there is a strong case for having all members elect at least part of the Federal Executive and Federal Policy Committee, but alongside a national list, I’d also look into electing some members regionally – to ensure the whole country is represented – and whether Parliamentarians should be able to stand in the members section of the election.

On a similar issue, some people are calling for Conference to be one member, one vote, which I’m all in favour of as soon as they can come up with a way of holding conference in a way that allows all members an equal chance of getting there at the same cost. Until they solve that, they’re proposing a system that would allow conference to be dominated by the people who can spare the time and money to get to conference and/or those who live near to the conference venue.

If you’ve still not voted – the deadline is Wednesday at noon, so you should be doing it soon! – and are open to influence, here are some of the people I gave high preferences to and would like to see elected:
Federal Conference Committee: Zoe O’Connell, Gareth Epps, David Grace, George Potter
Federal Executive: Elaine Bagshaw, Daisy Cooper, Bill Le Breton, Caron Lindsay
Federal Policy Committee: Jo Hayes, Gareth Epps, Ewan Hoyle, Richard Flowers
ELDR delegation: Jo Hayes, Allis Moss, Mark Valladares
International Relations Committee: I voted in this, but I don’t feel positive enough about any of the candidates to endorse them publicly.

Right, now when do I get the regional ballot papers…?

More on gender bias and balance

A couple of follow-ups to my HIGNFY gender bias post on Saturday that I wanted to highlight.

Jim Jepps has taken my data and put into a graph that shows the gap quite clearly, and the fact that – apart from the big dip in female guests in the mid-90s – there doesn’t seem to be much of a trend in them. (There appears to be an upward tick at the moment, but that might be because of the high female percentage in series 42.

Jim also has an interesting letter he received from John Lloyd, the producer of QI about the number of women who’ve appeared on that show. He also has a post looking at gender in police commissioner elections.

Rhube responded to the post on Tumblr, and I think her comments need to be read in full to explain why statistics like this are important and are not just numerical quirks. A sample, but read the whole thing:

If it seems irritating to you that I tweet every time a panelist show is all male, consider how irritating it is for me not to have my own gender represented at all most of the time on my favourite shows. And consider also how it encourages casual sexism from the male participants either when a woman is not there to remind them to reign in their less politically correct tendencies, or when one is and they treat her in a sexist manner, because her rarity makes her an invader, to be dismissed, undermined, or attacked.