In a part of my pitch yesterday I promised an opportunity to discuss, openly, the merits of the Webb-Andronichuk fresh-start proposal. The document details a set of reforms that promise to “make The Libertarian Party fit for purpose”. The proposal was published on a snazzy new site and a great deal more work went into presenting this nicely than any of the rival proposals published on LPUK.org. If this were a beauty contest, then the proposals would win hands-down, but what of the merits?
Gavin has set up a contact form on the showcase site in which you can send him your feedback, and this may very well help to make the reforms agreeable, but it may not. The membership has no way of knowing if the proposal have support from a consensus and no way of exchanging ideas or pointing out to each the pros and cons.
I fear that when members finally get to meet and vote on them, some nerdy character will put up his hand and share an insight that completely undermines the motion and we may be deprived of a reform that is useful in practice. Alternatively, the time-limited nature of that meeting and the will to move on from recent trouble might help the proposals to pass without some serious flaw being discussed before voting takes place. An open, protracted, detailed and inclusive debate will help to ensure the right thing happens, one way or another.
The proposals outlined in this document will, the author hopes, provide an illustration of how the party can move forward in a way that is both coordinated and structured, and that also gives members a real opportunity to shape and grow the party from the grassroots up.
It is true that members are the lifeblood of any political party – be that through membership subscriptions, donations of time and money, activism, or the contribution of policy ideas.
However, it must also be acknowledged that the organisation that is the Libertarian Party is as important as the members that make it up. The Libertarian Party would not be a libertarian party if it allowed the bulk of its membership to be intolerant towards certain ethnic groups, or pro-war, or pro-tax. Such members would undermine the very being of the Libertarian Party, and the project will die.
The Libertarian Party was founded as a small government party, not a no government party. Though theory of pure libertarianism is of interest and entertainment to a great to many libertarians – including the author, the real world just isn’t ready for it. To reach a society in which there is no nation state, no government (as we know it now), no man-made rules (as we know them now) will take generations to achieve.
As such, everything the party does, be it the formation of policy, transparency of party finances, the party structure itself, has to take this fact into consideration. There are constraints to what the party can and cannot do, whether they be constraints imposed on the organisation by laws, or by how the public perceive it.
Please read through these proposals, and if you would like to offer any feedback, please get in touch.
The party brand
The brand that is the ‘Libertarian Party’ is an important one, and it should be pushed at every opportunity, be that online or in print.
Since March 2010, the Libertarian Party has had access to the domain name http://www.libertarianparty.org.uk. This was registered by the author when he was then Communications Director. In fact, from that date and prior to the publication of these proposals, if anyone typed this domain name into their browser they have been redirected to the current website, http://www.lpuk.org, a fact that was promoted to members in the members’ newsletters.
Readers will have noticed that the author, for the time being, is using this domain to showcase these proposals.
It was the hope of the author in 2010 that the party dump its LPUK tag in acknowledgement of the importance of brand identity and the need to plug the ‘Libertarian Party’. This fact was promoted in the members’ newsletters.
As part of the renewal of the party, members and activists should proudly announce their membership of or work for the ‘Libertarian Party’, be that on leaflets, online or letters to the editor in local papers. The more people who get to know that a party called the Libertarian Party exists – as opposed to ‘LPUK’ – the better.
However, it’s not just about the party name or URL, its also about the party emblem and its slogans. These are registered with the Electoral Commission, and it was the author’s intention, when Communications Director, that these be revisited to make them more clear to the electorate when they received election material, or turned out to vote and see the party on the ballot paper.
The brand also relies on the calibre of party activists. This will be discussed later.
Campaigning & activism
Organising a successful campaign doesn’t happen organically. It requires individuals to be charged with certain responsibilities and tasks. It also needs individuals to have the necessary skills and knowledge to implement the tasks they are given.
A key role of the party is to ensure that it activists are up to speed with what they need to know to ensure success in their campaigning endeavours. There is no need to re-invent the wheel; there are clear rules and guidelines that if followed will help improve the effectiveness of any campaign. For example, the process of designing a leaflet – straight-forward one might think, but as with any aspect of publishing, including certain elements on a leaflet will improve its effectiveness. Indeed, a guide on how to produce an effective leaflet was produced by the author and distributed to members when he was Communications Director.
The author of these proposals has many years of campaigns experience, and indeed when a member of the Liberal Democrats, worked for and on behalf of that party to inform and educate its members to win elections and serve as councillors.
Training is essential in aiding Libertarian Party activist success, which is why the author has consistently argued that each activist who is responsible for artworking literature, do so using party-endorsed desktop publishing software. Using one piece of software will not only allow for training to be consistent across the whole of the party, but also allows activists the ability to share their examples of artwork and their skills with fellow activists. This illustrates a more grassroots approach to campaigning and activism.
It is also a given that as a political party, the Libertarian Party should encourage its activists to stand for election to their local councils, either as just names on the ballot paper, or as contenders for the seats. For those elections where Libertarian Party activists are putting up a serious contest, they will be funded primarily at the local level as part of a later proposal to devolve much of the financial management of the party. The NCC will, as part of its enabling role, look to introduce a scheme to target resources at the best performing areas to ensure greater success at the ballot box.
It is also worth mentioning that the belief that emanates from some libertarians that ‘those who seek political power have no right to call themselves libertarian’ has no place in a mature Libertarian Party. To repeat, one of the key reasons for the party to exist is to stand at elections, elect councillors and have influence. It is a fact of real life that the Libertarian Party operates in the UK’s 21st century democracy, and despite it many flaws and imperfections – of which there are many – the party and any Libertarian Party councillor has a fighting chance of having some influence with voters, the media and representatives of the multitude of agencies that exist.
Tomorrow, I will post an additional section of the proposal, dealing with the internal structure of of the supporter/activist base and the Party itself. Until then, over to you: