The Liberal Democrats are a Federal Party comprising England, Scotland and Wales with all their powers defined by the Party’s Constitution. This principle embodies one of our most deeply held core values, which is our belief in the devolution of power to the most appropriate level.
Consequently, the separation of power between the Federal and State parties is enshrined in the Constitution, and can only be varied with the agreement of Federal Conference and the Conferences and Conventions of all three state parties.
The main objectives of the English Party are to:
- Enable Liberal Democrats to be elected as MPs, MEPs, Councillors and all other levels of public office to implement Liberal Democrat policies;
- Optimise the effectiveness of the 11 English Regions by sharing best practice, developing their membership base and fundraising capacity.
To realise this, the main functions of the English Party are to:
- Manage the approval and selection of Parliamentary Candidates for Westminster, European Parliamentary Elections, Elected Mayors and Police & Crime Commissioners through the English Candidates Committee;
- Encourage Regions to motivate and develop all their Local Parties by strengthening their organisation and effectiveness with advice and training;
- Manage the finances of the Liberal Democrats in England;
- Determine the level of service fees to be paid to Local Parties for the recruitment and renewal of membership;
- Resolve disputes in Local Parties, Council Groups and Regional Parties.
English Party Structure
The English Council (EC)
EC is the body which represents the interests of the eleven English Regions and meets twice a year, usually in June and November. At these meetings, English Executive officers publish detailed reports on all the activities of the English Party and are held to account by the regional representatives. The level of information available is probably the most comprehensive than anywhere in the party.
The English Council has also scrutinised post-mortems of our campaigns for General Elections, European Elections, Local and County Council Elections and elections for Elected Mayors and Police Commissioners. These sessions can last up to two or three hours and allow those responsible for running these campaigns to make an objective presentation followed on occasion by robust questioning.
The English Council Executive (ECE)
ECE carries out all the necessary functions of the English Council between its meetings. The Executive consists of the eleven Regional Chairs, the Chair of Liberal Youth and twelve persons directly elected by the Council. Both the Chair of the English Party and English Candidates Chair as well as the representatives to the Federal Executive, Federal Conference Committee and Federal Policy Committee are elected directly by all the members of the English Council every year in November.
The current Chair is Tahir Maher who chairs the ECE which now has three separate sub-committees. These are:
- The Regional Parties Committee (RPC) which handles disputes. The current chair of this committee is Paul Hienkens;
- The English Finance & Administration Committee (EFAC) which monitors the Service Level Agreement with the Federal Party, oversees and sets financial governance for the English party. The current chair of this committee is the English Party Treasurer, David Hughes;
- The English Candidates Committee (ECC) under the direction of its Chair Prue Bray is responsible for the approval and selection of all Parliamentary Candidates in the 533 Westminster Constituencies, the 9 Euro Regions, Elected Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners.
The ECC consists of the 11 Regional Candidates Chairs, five members who are directly elected by the English Council, 1 Parliamentarian and 1 PCA representative. The work of the ECC is supported by an English Candidates Office who have one full-time staff based at LDHQ. The ECC meets five times in a calendar year.
The ECC has also completely revised the Parliamentary Selection Rules after every General Election, making them more user-friendly and less bureaucratic. Since 2010, we have been running a two-tier process, one for strategic or priority seats and another for development seats.
This is just an initial snapshot of a few of the many responsibilities of the English Party and the excellent work it does to keep the essential services running behind the scenes. Over the coming months, I will expand on each area, so members better understand what the English Party does and has achieved for its members.