The next steps on the supporters’ scheme

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

Following the all member survey and consultation on setting up a registered supporter scheme the Federal Board met on 15 and 22 October.

At the first meeting we saw the results of the survey and at the second the rapporteur notes of the various consultation events around the country.

We discussed these results and your comments and queries and considered the next steps.

The Board asked me to thank all those who responded to the online survey, and who came to ask questions and raise comments at the various events, including the two webinars.

Many of the issues you have raised are similar to those that have been raised by members of the Board themselves. It’s never possible in the first consultation documents to cover all those issues, but the Board are clear as part of our next steps we will publish a document that responds to them – more details below.

Firstly, the overall headlines of the survey responses. Over 10,000 of you replied: this includes those who answered the Federal People Development Committee (FPDC) survey that went out in mid-August, before Vince Cable’s speech and his subsequent survey.

Over 75% of all those who responded said that you supported the creation of a registered supporter group.

Within that, more than half said that you supported the proposals that a registered supporter should have a vote in the election of a Leader of the party, and also for the broadening of the pool of those who can stand for Leader beyond the MPs.

There was overwhelming support for registered supporters campaigning and being asked what their priorities are for the party in policy terms, and finally, there was substantial support for the removal of the current rule that you have to be a member for twelve months before you can be selected as a candidate for election to Parliament in Westminster.

The concerns were mainly around ensuring that there are clear benefits for members that supporters would not have (ie members being able to nominate candidates for Leader, and voting for policy motions at Conference).

In Vince’s proposals, he had urged us to move forward swiftly, now that we had some momentum amongst those who are already supporters or who vote for us, which would include taking the elements of the proposals to a Conference so that members can debate and vote on it. Your Board discussed and decided that we should:-

  1. Arrange for a webinar in the next few weeks to give members the results in more detail and to take questions on next steps.

    As with our consultation webinars, this will be recorded and then be available on the members part of the website for those who weren’t able to join us live. Members of the Board are also happy to engage in debate with members on the scheme on social media including the various party pages on Facebook

  2. Continue to encourage supporters to sign up (although without any of the voting rights that we as members will decide on at Conference), as they are already doing through our Exit to Brexit campaign – over 10,000 have signed up in recent weeks;

  3. Ask the FPDC to develop the practical arrangements for a registered supporter scheme, as well as a consultation document to respond to the specific issues and concerns raised by members. There are other committees also involved in parts of this: FCC with arrangements for Conference, and FCEC with their messaging and communications expertise. We will be coordinating these elements, and overall this work will be led on behalf of the FPDC and the Board by the FPDC Chair, Miranda Roberts;

  4. Prepare a Business Motion and Constitutional Amendments to be submitted to Federal Conference Committee for inclusion at Spring Conference at York.

Some members will be aware that the Leader had asked the Board to consider calling a Special Conference so that the whole package could be debated and voted on by members earlier, however, Vince agreed with the Board last night that the proposals could be debated in the Spring.

He thanked the Board for their commitment to proceeding with the establishment of a supporter scheme and for being clear that members should decide at Spring Conference on the detail of that scheme.

The Board wants to thank all the members who have contributed to the debate so far: we look forward to continuing that debate over the next few months in the lead up to the party making a decision about the detail at Spring Conference.