Times: Clegg to overhaul Lib Dem structure

by Stephen Tall on July 16, 2008

It looks like ‘well-placed sources’ have given The Times a sneak preview of reforms Nick Clegg wants to adopt streamline/centralise* decision-making within the Lib Dems:

He is determined to overhaul an internal structure that allies say severely curtails the powers of the leader and splits internal controls between a series of committees.
Mr Clegg, who became leader in December, plans to turn the party’s traditional structure on its head, centralising all decision-making under a new “chief officers group” and diluting the roles of its committees. Sources said that the move risks causing a serious rift between Mr Clegg and Lord Rennard, the party’s chief executive and the man in overall charge of the Liberal Democrats’ election campaigns. Under the shake-up Lord Rennard will become a non-voting member of the group and will report to the party leader.

Mr Clegg is understood to believe that the existing mesh of committees is too unwieldy and needs to be streamlined if the party is to have any chance of meeting its goals, chief among them doubling the number of Liberal Democrat MPs in the next two elections. “There is a multiplicity of committees in the name of transparency, but ultimately what happens is you don’t get any decisions being made at all,” one senior party insider said yesterday. “There are no clear lines of responsibility and accountability,” the source added. …

Sources said that the aim was to introduce the new structure on a “suck it and see” basis, as an interim solution between now and the next general election. That way it can be introduced quickly as opposed to implementing the change via an amendment of the party’s underlying constitution. “The new group will decide everything. In one sense, it may be overkill, but the basic thrust of it is right,” the source said.

The full report is here.

* delete according to taste.