Dear Iain, I read your blog with interest regularly. As a Liberal Democrat IThe email then goes on to raise questions about the centralising tendencies of LibDem HQ in Cowley Street and the senior management in particular. It accuses them of "consistently undermining autonomous campaign groups, and constantly trying to centralise all funding, regardless of party structure". I am also told that there have been many attempts to reduce the resources given to Women Liberal Democrats and the so-called Diversity Fund. The email continues...
don't always agree but find you measured and entertaining. I know Penny [who resigned as Vice Chair of the LibDems Candidates Committee] well
and have sat with her on the committee she has just resigned from. I'm
disappointed she isn't well enough to continue, but sadly the reaction to
the post on your blog is really missing the point, going into diatribes
about objections to processes. I'm disappointed that the fundamental issues
in Penny's letter and its non-printing are being lost in the debate about
mechanisms. I have first hand experience of a letter in the past that was
also ignored by Liberal Democrat News about funding for small party bodies.
Steve Hitchens was appointed [to run the Diversity Fund] with no reference to any federal body to an unconstitutional body. It angered many many people, but the bullying culture within the party was such that the implication was given that if you dared speak out you'd be ex-communicated. The real failure is the failure to progress as a party. Instead of looking forward and being different, the party has regressed in the last three years - and no-one seems to dare to ask the reason why very loudly. Anyone who has half a brain knows that theresults in 2006 and 2005 were really rubbish and far worse than even Simon Hughes predicted at 'only 70 odd seats'. Yet they were spun as a great success. What codswallop.Make of it what you will. I don't feel the need to add my own comment.
I was in a PCA meeting in which we tried to ask questions about the levels
of support I, and other candidates who were in so-called target seats in 2005
got or rather we did not get. One close friend of mine was a candidate in a seat
which was a decapitation seat and was treated disgracefully. And I suspect
probably 90% of ordinary members believe that it is utter rubbish. However I
have been appeased by some initiatives - I think the diversity fund is a great
initiative but it seems to be developing into something that is not being
presented as quite right. Our campaigning techniques are now so predictable that
you and the Labour Party can predict the leaflet we will release the next day in
by-elections suggest we have a huge problem. I voted for Ming, but he needs to
look and fast at the real problem facing us.
The way people are 'appointed' within the Liberal Democrats needs some
looking into - and as for equal opportunities within the organisation - well it
doesn't exist. Like many other members of the party I'm too frightened of the
bullying that I've experienced first hand to speak out any more. Like Penny I'm
tired and fed up with it. Yet it isn't the party as a whole that is bad, just a
few individuals. We need to look outside more into the real world inhabited by
most people, inside of up our backsides in the Westminster bubble where I've
seen so many decent people discriminated against that it still makes me angry
that no-one has the guts to stand up to bullies.
I've not got rid of my membership of the party. Nor do I want it removed. I
have helped in every by election in person since goodness knows when, and even
though I have experienced first hand in the last few months the complete
inadequacies of our process when not run properly I shall carry on. But not like
I did before. I also wish to say that I regret not speaking in favour of proper
funding for some of the party orgnisations who are vulnerable just now when I
had the chance a few weeks ago and for that I am sorry.