Sal Brinton to stand for Party President

July 3, 2014 4:19 PM

CGB Next Generation BabiesLast October I was asked by a number of people to consider standing for Party President, and I decided to put my name forward after discussing it with them and others.

The Liberal Democrats have had a really tough four years since the formation of the Coalition. Even though we suspected it would be hard, being in Government has taken its toll. Our strong local government base has been massacred, with many of our best hard-working councillors losing their seats.

Don't get me wrong. There are many things we have achieved in the last four years of which we can be proud, but the cost to the Party has been hard to take. I believe that the next Party President will not just have to take us through the General Election, but support Liberal Democrats as we find ourselves, our passion for our liberal principles, and our love of helping our communities once more. We need to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

At the heart of this is how we talk to each other. I want to see wholesale changes in the internal communications of the party. The voices of our members need to be heard, and that has to start with the President too. The way the presidency works needs to be improved - it is so much more than just sending out emails from HQ.

The President has to have real conversations with members, something like an ombudsman who can spend time on getting to the root of members' concerns. To make this happen I want to have regular surgeries: one to one sessions, whether face to face, Facetime, Skype or on the phone, with booked slots advertised well in advance, and this will build on the more traditional formal meetings, conferences, webinars and tweeting.

The President will also have to speak for the party externally. I have had the good fortune to have a number of different roles within the party over the last forty years, as an agent in a London GLA development seat in the 1970s, a young mum delivering leaflets in Cambridge in the 1980s, a council group leader on Cambridgeshire, and a vice chair of FPC and more recently FCC. I am proud that we are a party that still involves its members in making policy, and voting for it at conference, despite the others handing more and more over to their leaders. I would be honoured to speak for all our members.

As a senior councillor advisor for the Improvement and Development Agency I have helped our council groups up and down the country turn round some tough problems, and tough problems need plain talking. As important as my experience within the party, I've been a businesswoman and Bursar of two Cambridge colleges. As a non-Executive I am a trustee of UNICEF UK, and was a founding Chair of a Learning and Skills Council, so I've have considerable experience of holding leaders and organisations to account.

Those of us who have been in the predecessor parties to the Liberal Democrats remember how our local government grassroots community working underpinned the party's rise from previous electoral deserts. As your President, I will do all I can to give us members of the party the chance to start our journey anew.