The decision of Tim Farron to step down as party leader for the Liberal Democrats is in my view the right decision – not because any issues about his views on gay rights which seem to have been overblown; rather because of the party’s poor election results and the need for the fresh leadership – this not taking away the great efforts/contributions of Tim Farron. What is truly needed now is to find a fresh (preferably young) leadership with a clear vision for the future of the party – NOT the business as usual mindset – and keen to reenergise the base by articulating/standing up for Liberal values while keen to achieve 4 fundamental objectives;
1) BREXIT Negotiations; The ability to firmly stand up for the country during the BREXIT negotiations with a clear strategy in this direction. In my mind the party needs to be more effective in challenging the government about transparency of the talks and about terms/expectations set forth by the current government. More importantly the party should invest more time/energy in providing clarity to the British people of the real implications of BREXIT as opposed to promises made during the referendum campaign.
2) Performance Review: There needs to be an effective assessment of performance of the party in the last elections to come up with lessons learnt. This review should also extend to actual policy matters to ensure they are consistent/in line with overall values and the views of the party base; there needs to be a challenge to the notion of the LibDems being an idealistic party that has no pragmatic vision of real issues facing the nation. Campaigning is another important area to be reviewed.
3) Process/Structural Review: I would strongly recommend an overdue review of internal party structure, policy formulation process and campaign strategy in collaboration with regional representatives and ensuring regional offices contribute effectively in all these areas – not the top-down approach which seems to be the pattern currently adopted; after all liberal/progressive values need to apply to internal party structure/function as well not just on policy matters.
4) The Championing of New Politics: The Liberal Democrats needs to champion the idea of new politics in parliament & whitehall one that is purely/simply solution oriented rather than driven by divisive/partisan politics and posturing. They should lead the pack in driving this approach and working with other parties to further the interest of the nation.
Finally, just to note that the business of leading a political party is certainly not easy one but the basic set of principal should be this;
- Maximise utilisation and develop talent within the party.
- Include a clear strategy/vision & a clear set of deliverables.
- Create a mechanism that is regularly looking at evaluating/improving efficiency/effectiveness of internal operation/structure as well as regular review of policy.
Hope this helps.