Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Demorats’

Digital Comms Is Only Part of the Answer

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 1st September, 2015

Rob Blackie LibDems in CommsThere was a very convivial meeting of Liberal Democrats in Communications this evening, hosted by Rob Blackie in the basement of a welcoming upmarket pub in Pimlico. Apart from networking the idea was to hear from two speakers: Richard Morris, a successful advertising executive and author of the popular A View from Ham Common blog, and the journalist and broadcaster Miranda Green (both LibDems themselves). The participants were overwhelmingly young, maybe partly because “taster” publicity for the evening suggested that it might help those who sought a career in Communications or the Media. But even an old hack like me found it interesting. Richard spoke particularly about how he views the applications of people who want to work for his agency; in a nutshell, they have to captivate with their introductory lines so that those hiring think “that person sounds interesting; I’d like to talk to them”. He told the cautionary tale of some poor sod who had the bright idea of writing their CV on the icing of a delicious cake sent to the interviewing penal. Unfortunately, they ate the cake before realising that there was no other copy of the CV or way of knowing who the person was.

Miranda GreenRichard MorrisMiranda — who served in Paddy Ashdown’s office in the days when the LibDem leader was up at 5am and wondering why everyone else was not already busy at work. focused more on the May election campaign , or debacle, as some of us now fondly refer to it. It is not enough to keep pushing dozens of leaflets through people’s doors any more, and while television is still extremely important (especially for older voters) digital media can have a big impact, as Obama’s campaigns in the United States have shown. It was unfortunate, to put it mildly, that having promoted the slogan “stronger economy, fairer society” for four and a half years of the Coalition government the LibDems suddenly switched to “neither left nor right”, leaving many activists, let alone the electors, wondering “Huh?” Obviously a very high digital media presence can have a big effect, especially in motivating younger people, but there is no use smothering Facebook or twitter with posts if there are no clear messages within. LDHQ please note. As Rob Blackie is running a very high profile digital media campaign in his effort to be selected with a chance of winning a seat on the London Assembly it was good of him to devote an evening to this worthwhile venture. One was also pleased to see fellow GLA contenders Merlene Emerson and Mark Platt present.

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Liberal Democrats’ Federal Executive Away-Day

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 27th June, 2015

Sal BrintonI tend to be rather sceptical about the value of organisational away-days, not least when it’s a glorious summer’s day outside and the London Pride street party with a million people enjoying themselves is going on just a couple of miles away. But today’s LibDem Federal Executive gathering showed just how useful such events can be when properly run, as we were able to thrash out in detail reflections on such matters as delivering the Party’s last 5-Year Strategy Plan (or not), our ability to deliver in future and the political landscape post May 7th. Despite the dire general election results, the mood at the meeting was far from downcast, as there are so many lessons to be learned and plans for the future to be made. As there was an almost full house of FE members, we were able to split up into four working groups to consider ways the Party can be revitalised (having 16,000+ new members since the election has been a good start!), what our strategic priorities should be and how we can make the Party more accountable to members, among other things.

LibDem Fightback 1I was especially pleased with the recommendation that candidate selections should proceed promptly, not just for the upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections and the Scottish, Welsh and London polls in 2016 but also for the European elections. We need to have strong Euro-teams in place across the country to help win the IN/OUT Referendum that David Cameron has said he will deliver. Not for the first time, I was critical of the messaging in the 2014 Euro-election campaign, and many other FE members similarly gave the thumbs down to messaging in May’s general election — not least the sudden last minute change from “Stronger Economy, Fairer Society” to “Look Left Look Right, Then Cross”. Neither slogan could be said to convey the true values and potential of Liberalism. An overhaul of the way the Party is governed is also now underway, though obviously most of that review can only take place after the new Leader has been installed. It was agreed that whoever that may be the Leader should attend Federal Executives (Nick Clegg, unlike most of his predecessors, rarely did). The workings of the Executive will also be made more widely available to members, not just through the Party’s website, but also via articles and blogs such as this. Pauline Pearce made the excellent simple suggestion that we also ought to have a Federal Executive Facebook page which will be another step in the right direction towards better two-way communication and a healthy debate.

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The London LibDems’ Party Leadership Hustings

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 17th June, 2015

leadership hustingsNorman Lamb and Tim FarronNearly 1,200 Liberal Democrat members (many of them newbies) gathered in the Institute of Education’s Logan Hall in Bloomsbury this evening for the London regional party’s hustings for the party leadership, compered by Party President (Baroness) Sal Brinton. Having had quite a lot of contact with both candidates over the years, and being aware of their very different characters and styles, I was curious to see how they would go down. It was all very gentlemanly, of course — not least because Tim Farron admitted right at the beginning that Norman Lamb had been his mentor when he first entered Parliament. Both have dug themselves in impressively in their respective constituencies of Westmoreland & Lonsdale and Norfolk North and thus did not get swept away by last month’s tsumani, which removed five of London’s six sitting MPs (only one of whom, Lynne Featherstone, appeared to be present this evening). Intriguingly, given that Tim is seen as being on the “left” of the Party, famously voting against tuition fees and not having any role in the Coalition Government, he was the one who paid the most fulsome tribute to Nick Clegg and the LibDem wins in government 2010-2015. But both men stressed the need for a reassertion of Liberal values. Tim has the advantage of being a born communicator and a bit of a cheeky chappie, whereas Norman has the gravitas not only of having had ministerial responsibility but also having thought through very deeply issues relating to significant subjects, not least mental health. If one asks the question, “Which one would make the more convincing Prime Minister?”, Norman would win hands down. But if the Party is currently basically looking for someone who can boost morale and rebuild the party from the bottom up, then Tim has the edge. Tim has also been doing the rubber chicken circuit for several years, as probably the most energetic Party President we have ever seen. This means that although I personally shall opt for gravitas, I will be extremely happy to work with whichever one of them wins the all-member vote and I can only be thankful that given that the Liberal Democrats have only eight MPs left — all men, alas — it’s tremendous that we have two such talented but different candidates to choose from. And I do believe the contest will help enthuse our recent intake of 16,000+ new members.

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