The race for the Lib Dem presidency

by Stephen Tall on September 30, 2008

It’s rare for an internal Lib Dem party contest (other than for leader) to start making headlines on the BBC website, but the presence of Lembit Opik as a candidate for party president has achieved just that, with this report on his Facebook campaign page.

That is of course the Catch-22 of Lembit’s campaign for the presidency: many of his supporters point to his knack for generating widespread publicity that gets the Lib Dems noticed. His opponents point to exactly the same talent.

There are, of course, three candidates for the party presidency, and each of them has a web presence. Of most interest (we hope) to party members looking to choose the candidate on the basis of what they offer, rather than your view of their personalities, below are the links to the their manifestos:

Chandila Fernando
Lembit Opik MP
Baroness Ros Scott

Lib Dem Voice has offered to run up to three ‘Presidential Platforms’ on behalf of each of the candidates during the contest. How they choose to use these is entirely up to them, and we hope will help inform party members in making their choice for party president.

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God help us if Lembit wins.

by Michael on September 30, 2008 at 1:45 pm. Reply #

I don’t think it is necessarily Lembit’s presence that has achieved the coverage. It is more likely a combination of the fact that the contest is being hotly contested. (Any BBC reporter at conference couldn’t miss all the yellow and red badges and realise that something was going on, even Andrew Neil noticed!) Together with the need for the BBC to find stories for endless outlets these days.

by Duncan Borrowman on September 30, 2008 at 1:52 pm. Reply #

The problem with Facebook is that anyone can join the group – not just Lib Dem members… Also, I know of a few people voting for Ros who are part of Lembit’s group…

If we look at endorsements on their own websites Ros is winning by a mile…

by Anonymous on September 30, 2008 at 2:45 pm. Reply #

Sorry that post lost my name!

by Susan on September 30, 2008 at 2:45 pm. Reply #

Are we yet at a point of being able to see lists of endorsements? I find that much more useful than twittering, facingbooks and similar interweb thingies …..

by crewegwyn on September 30, 2008 at 7:00 pm. Reply #

There is a list on Ros’s website, here is the link

and being fair here is Lembit’s

by Susan on September 30, 2008 at 7:04 pm. Reply #

Should have said there in not an endorsement list on Chandila’s site

by Susan on September 30, 2008 at 7:05 pm. Reply #

Anonymous wrote: “If we look at endorsements on their own websites Ros is winning by a mile…”

It is possible for candidates to pick up numerous endorsements from activists but nonetheless fare poorly with the wider membership. Jackie Ballard is the classic case in point.

The last contest for the Party Presidency that pitted a well-known MP against an internal administrator was Charles Kennedy versus Tim Clement-Jones. TCJ assembled an impressive list of endorsements, but he only managed 15%.

All (or virtually all) members have heard of Lembit Opik. Baroness Scott, by contrast, is known only to activists (and not all activists).

That’s not to say that endorsements count for nothing. Sometimes they do, especially if they come from MPs. Which is why Nick Clegg managed to beat Chris Huhne.

In an ideal world, the post of Party President would be occupied by someone like Ros Scott. In the actual world we inhabit, and 2 years before a general election, we should be looking for someone capable of attracting publicity for the Party.

by Sesenco on September 30, 2008 at 8:32 pm. Reply #

For about half an hour, I too was a candidate in the Presidential contest between Charles Kennedy and Tim Clement-Jones, and but for the fact that I was a civil servant, I could have been a contender…

But 1990 was a long time ago, and eight years before Tim was elevated to the Lords, so I’m not sure that Sesenco’s comparison is a relevant one. The ability to reach the non-activist members is radically improved, as something like 40% of members will receive e-mails from the candidates.

There are a whole swathe of factors that will come into play in this election, and the fact that Ros has spent more than eighteen months travelling the country meeting members means that her candidacy is based on more than just endorsements.

Hopefully, members will have far more information on which to base their decision, as opposed to the one leaflet that members got in 1990. We’ll see if that makes a difference…

by Mark Valladares on September 30, 2008 at 9:18 pm. Reply #

And now comes the news that our prospective president, if elected, will have to divert his attention from the role (and more importantly that of an MP) by going on Celebrity big brother in January!

Oh dear!

by neil bradbury on October 1, 2008 at 10:48 am. Reply #

The link to Chandila Fernando’s webpage is no longer working

There seems to be a new site –

by stephen on October 1, 2008 at 10:59 am. Reply #

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