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Elections to federal committees - candidates' statements

October 24, 2014 3:32 PM
By Toby Keynes

Ballot emails for the party's elections to federal committees were due to go out to all Federal Conference Representives on Friday 24th October, and we've invited all HSLD members who are candidates in the elections to submit a statement of up to 250 words for our members and supporters.

The elections are for the:

  • Federal Executive (FE)
    • Stan Collins, Dr Evan Harris, Caron Lindsay, Gordon Lishman
  • Federal Conference Committee (FCC)
    • Jon Ball, Zoë O'Connell, Joe Otten
  • Federal Policy Committee (FPC)
    • Kelly-Marie Blundell, Stan Collins, Adam Corlett, Spencer Hagard, Dr Evan Harris, Jo Hayes, Gordon Lishman
  • International Relations Committee (IRC)
    • Gordon Lishman, Dr Turhan Ozen, Peter Price
  • Delegation to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE).
    • Jo Hayes, Gordon Lishman, Turhan Ozen, Peter Price

Below are the candidates' statements that we've received so far, in alphabetical order (as they appear on the voting website). These are from:

  • Jon Ball
  • Kelly-Marie Blundell
  • Stan Collins
  • Adam Corlett
  • Spencer Hagard
  • Dr Evan Harris
  • Jo Hayes
  • Gordon Lishman
  • Zoë O'Connell
  • Joe Otten
  • Dr Turhan Ozen
  • Peter Price

If we receive statements from further candidates, we'll add them to this page.

Jon Ball (FCC)

I realised that religion didn't make sense even before I started supporting the Liberal Party while still at school. I'm a longstanding member of the British Humanist Association and was happy to join HSLD when it was formed.

The key role of FCC is deciding what Conference can debate. When I previously served on FCC for 12 years, I had a good record of consistently speaking out for and voting for amendments which added a non-religious dimension to our policies and addressed subjects which may be challenging for some religious people. This faced frequent opposition from some theist FCC members who regarded these amendments as marginal. If you value our Party's policies protecting, recognising and appealing to the majority in this country now who are not religious, please support my bid to return to FCC by giving me your first preference.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me on jonball@cix.co.uk or give me a call on 07860 247589.

Kelly-Marie Blundell (FPC)

I have been proud to serve members of the party as an elected representative on Federal Policy Committee for the last two years, and I would like to ask for your support to continue to do so.

Over the last two years we have seen a tremendous change in Lib Dem Policy, not least of all through being a party of Government. However, now more than ever it is now vital we have strong and capable voices representing members on the FPC.

I've always been willing to stand up for HSLD in the party,as I did at Conference. and will continue to do so. I'd like to ask for your support in the forthcoming elections to ensure we have a radical and progressive manifesto and stronger policies through to the next parliament.

Stan Collins (FE, FPC)

I cannot summon the enthusiasm or commitment to have any religious views but I believe passionately that the state, politics and religion should not be mixed..

Our politics as a party should be humane and radical but the radical part is under siege. The pressure not to 'rock the boat' has grown and what some sell as 'responsibility' is no more than dull conformity to accepted ideas - which are often wrong. Think of the teeth sucking when, before the crash, Vince was saying that the financial system was in trouble and when we voted against the Iraq War. We must keep the courage of our convictions.

And let us look radically at our own internal ways of working.

Our policy process produces dull, worthy papers, too long for most people to read unless deeply committed Yet these papers lack a clear passionate message. We make sure that everyone with an axe to grind is on the working group and get a dull bargain. We must experiment with new ways of working to do two things: involve members using their many skills and talents and produce crisper, more distinctive policy which say "We care and mean business".

The FE must stop trying to do bits of everybody else's job picked up when something grabs its interest. It should get on with its own job to ensure that we have an efficient central organisation, doing what needs to be done centrally, ensuring that there are the resources to campaign and win.

Adam Corlett (FPC)

I am standing for FPC as an expert in tax, welfare and economic policy, and with a pledge to make it far more transparent in preparation for 'one member, one vote'.

As a former scientist, I come to policy free of partisan dogma, and with a keen appreciation of the importance of new technology as well as evidence-based politics.

I am instinctively liberal on social policy. If elected I will build on a track record of delivering bolder and more liberal drugs policy within the party, and push for further progress on assisted dying.

In the next parliament I would also like to see the labelling of meat from slaughter without stunning, or even the complete removal of religious exemptions to animal welfare laws. And on education it is time to recognise that the notion of parental choice of schools is in many areas completely undermined by religion-based entry criteria.

I am deeply committed to the secularist agenda and as a professional researcher have the skills to fight for bolder policy and a more open FPC. Vote Adam Corlett #1 for FPC.

Spencer Hagard (FPC)

I am campaigning for FPC to be radically changed, to become an open, inclusive and communicative servant of all members of our party, at every stage of its work cycle, and to promote the improvement of policymaking capabilities throughout society, especially at the neglected grassroots and in our highly dysfunctional parliament.

My liberal conscience, humanism, and secular values are well summarised by Edmund Fawcett's recent definition of liberalism: 'acknowledgment of inescapable ethical and material conflict within society, distrust of power, faith in human progress, and respect for people whatever they think and whoever they are' (in Liberalism, The Life of an Idea, 2014, Princeton UP)

There is more at spencerhagard.blogspot.co.uk, and in the candidate statement being circulated by LDHQ with the ballots. I hope that when you have considered all the candidates you will feel able to give me a high ranking. Thank you.

Dr Evan Harris (FE, FPC)

Our party has a fine record of having the right policies to promote secular values - and occasionally puts them into practice.

My colleagues (see below) have worked hard on federal committees to give us the best policies on equalities, religious neutrality for the state, ending compulsory prayer, ridding Parliament of compulsory seats for Bishops and a number of other areas.

But there is still a long way to go, in various policy areas not least our policy on faith schools which could be improved further.

I have worked on Federal Policy Committee and other committee for a long time to get our policies into shape and will continue to do so.

I would be grateful if you would support me in the elections to Federal Committees and also if you would give an even higher preference to my colleagues on FPC - Prateek Buch and Kelly Marie Blundell who have backed our position in so many of these matters; and also to Jenny Woods, Gordon Lishman, and (for FCC) Jon Ball and Zoe O'Connell. All are very good secular/humanist campaigners and need your support to get on these committees.

Jo Hayes (FPC, ALDE)

My parents after sending me to Sunday School let me decide whether to go to church or not. As a thoughtful child I decided not to; it was incompatible with the science I was learning at school.

Every child should have the freedom of thought I was given; children are not the property of their parents.

I support evidence-based policy and oppose indoctrination into any organised religion or belief system. This is also my approach to climate change deniers, Farage worshippers and all who resort to denial to preserve habitual mindsets.

My morality is based on equality and empathy for all people, respect for other sentient beings and the understanding through science of our place in and dependency on nature.

I am on ALDE Council Delegation now, I was second on the East of England European list and fought the election hard. We experienced a backlash of anger and negativity stirred by the populist Right. We are being punished for supporting the Tories in government, as happened to our liberal colleagues across Europe during unpopular coalitions. During this parliamentary term, though reduced to one MEP, we need to keep working with other ALDE member parties to promote EU-wide policies that reflect HSLD positions. We can do much good in the world's most powerful Parliament.

While on FPC I always supported HSLD's positions. With your support I will again. The general election manifesto must be evidence-based, thoughtful and face down irrational forces of fear and resentment.

Gordon Lishman (FE, FPC, IRC, ALDE)

I am a committed humanist and worked closely with the British Humanist Association on the last two Equality Acts as a member of the Government's EHRC Steering Group and Senior Stakeholder Group and attend BHA events in London - although I live in Lancashire, I have a base in London.

I am standing as Chair of the English LibDems because it will be a crucial role in re-building the Party from the bottom up after the 2015 General Election. We will need to recruit and motivate a new generation of local leaders; re-build local parties throughout the whole country; and involve ourselves fully in the new constitutional settlement which has to follow the Scottish referendum.

I'm also standing for re-election to the Federal Executive and for election to the Federal Policy Committee. The FE is currently a dysfunctional body which fails to fulfil its responsibilities for taking decisions on strategy and co-ordinating the wider work of the Federal Party. I want to work with the new President to ensure that it does its job properly. The FPC will be the critical body in deciding our top-line messages for the General Election Manifesto. As I said in the Pre-Manifesto debate, it's time to move on from lists of policies to pick out the key pledges and the policies which symbolise what Liberal Democrats stand for.

Oh, and I'm also standing for the International Relations Committee on which I've served since it was set up and which I chaired for 15 years!

Zoë O'Connell (FCC)

I am standing for Federal Conference Committee as my experience working on equalities issues to date - including as a member of the party's equality policy working group - has shown me two things.

Firstly, generating discussion around an issue goes a long way towards getting the problem fixed. The faith school admissions amendment did not pass at conference, but it is clear there is still discussion needed on this and other topics, including resisting attempts to force illiberal internet filtering on UK broadband users.

Secondly, language matters. From a secular perspective, we aim to end to privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief, or lack thereof, but the subtleties are often lost in motions. As a member of the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats executive closely involved in equal marriage activism, I have seen how vague and inaccurate use of language turned an equal marriage campaign into a merely same-sex marriage one.

If elected, I intend to be a strong voice for secular values and civil liberties and I hope you can give me a high preference vote. This would help to ensure these issues remain on the agenda after May 2015 and will not simply be kicked into the long grass.

Joe Otten (FCC)

I am a member of HSLD, the BHA, the NSS, and Sheffield Humanist Society.

I think we all appreciate the hard work that FCC puts into making conference a success, but I believe there could be some improvements.

We, as Liberal Democrats, expect our conference to be open to participation, to be transparent in our procedures, and to be an exemplar of democratic decision-making as well as a showcase for our values and our candidates.

To this end, I am gathering members' views on what works and doesn't and how to improve our conference. Please complete my survey here.

For my part, I would like to see and will work towards some simple reforms:

  • extending the drafting advice idea to enable better collaboration among proposers
  • advance notice to proposers of amendments and separate votes on acceptance or rejection
  • topics and proposers of motions and amendments submitted and reasons for acceptance or rejection to be available to interested members
  • reform of the confidentiality rules so that FCC members can be accountable for at least some of their decisions

I edit and contribute to Liberal Democrat Voice because I enjoy and believe in facilitating a constructive debate on policies and values between members and with the wider public. I hope to apply the same energy to improving our party conference.

http://joe.otten.uk https://facebook.com/joe.otten.fcc

Dr Turhan Ozen (IRC, ALDE)

Humanity is like rain. It is fair to claim that every single rain drop is identical. Depending on what each drop lands on decides what it will be. If it drops on a flower it becomes a flower, if it drops on grass it turns into grass, landing on a tree will make it a tree... Every human being is also identical in the same way. However, depending on where we are born, we belong to a race, a culture, a faith. We do not have control over this but it is beautiful in the same way as all the colours of the nature, flowers, fruits and trees… Like nature, humanity needs all these differences that contribute to this beauty. That is why despite having a strong identity I love all colours and cultures of humanity. I come from an international family. I have run in elections in 2010 and 2014 and I am a parliamentary candidate for general elections in May. I co-founded Friends of Turkey and I am an executive of EMLD. I have plenty of experience. Most importantly, humanism will be at the core of the ideas and values that I will bring to IR and ALDE committees.

Peter Price (IRC, ALDE)

Occasionally, in IRC or ALDE Council, issues arise where religious motivation underlies a position being taken by proponents or opponents. Some arise in the EU context, where the Christian Democrat parties tend to press their religious dogma.

Having served for 15 years as an MEP, I have a good understanding of such motivations, which are often subtle and not part of the up-front debate. I am well equipped to counter their arguments and to deal with the wider issues which form the context, also having experience as:

  • Member of ALDE Council
  • Member of Federal Policy Committee and its rep on Parliamentary International Affairs Committee
  • Member of International Relations Committee.
  • Member of 'Europe' policy group and Euro-election Manifesto drafting group for 2014 election.

I believe that the world would be a better place without religions, which give some people the certainty that they are justified in denying freedom and even life to others. However, I believe equally strongly in tolerance - not matching their bigotry. We must live up to our own principles.

My own secularist views were developed in my 20s, when I re-formed the local Humanist Group and became its Chair. Membership grew and we had a wider impact through debates in schools and conducting secular funerals. This background became the long-standing underpinning of my attitudes and judgments.

For more information for about me, please see the booklet of candidates' manifestos.