I have a very simple response to the proposals by a “leader” who got the job without actually being elected by the members of the party, and who is now trying to ensure that party members never again get to elect a leader.
I think these proposals are *grotesquely* wrongheaded, for the reasons set out in https://www.libdemvoice.org/oneemailaddressonevote-a-foolish-idea-58832.html . They amount to turning control of the party over to whichever special interest has the inclination to set up a botnet (and no, the supposed “safeguards” suggested, all of which would be trivial to circumvent, would do nothing at all to mitigate this. If the party can check that names are on the electoral register, so can any malicious actor).
This would be a bad idea even at the best of times, but at a time when interests opposed to everything the Lib Dems claim to stand for are known to be engaging in cyberattacks, one might as well just hang out a sign saying “the Lib Dems welcome our new authoritarian Russian-backed leadership!” and have done with it. (I am no believer in grand conspiracy theories, but I think extending open-handed invitations to have our electoral system compromised would *invite* conspiracies).
I think that even more than the proposals themselves being misguided, foolish, and potentially deadly to the party, the way in which the party is being railroaded into them is insulting to the party membership and the party’s traditions of internal democracy. And even more than that, I find the idea of spending more than £50,000 on this monument to one old man’s ego by holding a special conference on the proposals — at a time when one can barely go five minutes without another begging letter purportedly from a party luminary because the party is so short of funds — nothing less than obscene.
I might have been persuadable to vote for a very amended version of these proposals — without the ludicrous idea of the botnet actually getting to choose the leader — were they brought to a normal conference as part of the normal order of business. But given the revelation that these are intended to be brought at a special conference — which will cost the party money and will likely also cost the individual attending members money many of us can’t afford, for a navel-gazing constitutional change that is in no way an emergency, and which seems designed to ripen the party for a takeover by illiberal Labour “centrists” if not by much worse elements — I will firmly oppose even those parts of the proposals which might, in isolation, otherwise not seem as utterly ludicrous as the proposal to turn over our party leadership to hackers does.
These proposals are being presented to us as faits accompli by a leader who was also presented to us as a fait accompli, and we are being asked to pay to give away the party to whoever can be bothered to take it from us. This is mismanagement at an epic scale, and proves that the party constitution *does* need to be changed — to take the power to make stupid decisions like this away from the unelected grandees who pack federal committees, and to ensure there is proper democratic accountability among those committees so we are never again threatened with having what’s left of the party democracy turned over to any of the party’s enemies who wants it because of one man’s folly.
I harbour no illusions that this response will make the slightest difference to anything — it’s very clear that consultation responses will be cherry-picked to present the predetermined conclusion that Vince Cable is the wise sage whose bright idea of a cargo-cult invocation of Canada will save the party — but at least if I respond like this you can’t say absolutely no-one opposed this.
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