Monday, November 15, 2010

Guardian gets it wrong again - Federal Party Election results are not some great rebellion

Allegra Stratton in the Guardian seems to think that the success of Evan Harris and David Rendel in the Federal Executive elections signifies some sort of rebellion against the leadership as she describes "anti-Tory candidates" taking key positions.

Well, er, excuse me, Ms Stratton, but I think it's quite clear that every single member of the Liberal Democrats is "anti-Tory". While I may be supportive of the Coalition, it'll be a very cold day in hell before I ever consider myself within very long bargepole distance of Conservative philosophy. I would expect every other member of this party, from Nick Clegg down, to feel the same way.

The electorate for these elections is Party Conference reps amongst whom Evan Harris and David Rendel are massively popular anyway. In what universe would they ever not have been elected to any party body they stood for? Even if we weren't in Government, I strongly expect that the results of those elections would not have been so different. I am thrilled that they are both on the FE now as I think they are wise voices in any circumstances.

Ms Stratton may find it useful to avail herself of the excellent audit trail of Party history and elections found on Colin Rosenstiel's website. If she does, she'll see that David Rendel was elected to the Federal Executive at a fairly early stage last time the elections were held in 2008. In fact, he had 20 more first preferences then than he had this time round.

You can't go around drawing conclusions on one set of elections out of context. I don't think the results were particularly unpredictable. I'm gutted that the lovely Elephant's Daddy Richard didn't get on to the Federal Policy Committee, though. Mind you, Lady Mark is going to sunny Europe next year with the ELDR Delegation, and James Graham is going to be on the Federal Executive, so there are things to cheer.

But this is just another example of how the Guardian prints inaccurate stories about the Liberal Democrats without thinking - an all too common trait these days.

6 comments:

Paul Walter said...

Yes, David Rendel is always top of the poll - or near to it. Indeed, I think his vote was lower this time than last time - which makes the Guardian story even more bonkers!

NoetiCat said...

I guess I am anti-Tory insofar as I am a Lib Dem and thus do not agree with Conservative or Labour etc policy more than I agree with our own.

WilliamCB said...

I have no reason to disagree with what you've written here, but I would like to pose what I think are the two most interesting questions about the election.

There clearly is a divide between Team Clegg and social liberals. Personally, I'm not sure what the best way is to characterise it. You could call it a divide of ideas (Orange Bookers vs social liberals), ideology (left vs right), society (Westminster party elite vs grassroots) or loyalty (Cleggists vs ???). Also, I couldn't say how deep the divide is.

So the first question is, how do the elections affect the balance of power? Is there more or less now on the Clegg side of the divide?

And the second question is, is the divide itself deeper than before, or not?

The Guardian article may have been flawed, but it did address these questions.

Mark Valladares said...

William CB,

As one of the successful candidates in these internal elections, I'd go along with any portrayal of the article as 'pretty lazy'. Because we're a democratic Party, we allow anyone to run, representing the full range of opinions, so it's hardly surprising that some of the successful candidates come from the 'social liberal' wing of the Party. That's as it should be.

However, the Press have shown no interest in our internal democracy in the past, so the lack of research isn't wholly unexpected. As Caron points out, our election results are available for all to see, so there are no secrets.

If there is one difference this year, it's that there were a lot more votes cast this year, an indication of greater interest than in the past.

I see no sign of a divide, as you put it, between pro-Clegg and anti-Clegg factions, more the emergence of groups who want the leadership to be more robust in their dealings with the Tories.

crewegwyn said...

I'd consider myself as an 'Orange Booker' (whatever that really means!) and put Tony Greaves as No.1

Work that one out!

Niklas said...

To be honest, it's difficult to see any election result for the party's federal committees as a rebellion against anything for the simple reason that candidates are not allowed to campaign! The federal conference reps who vote for them largely have to go on name recognition and an A5 manifesto; we ordinary members only get the names!

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