Friday evening at Lib Dem conference: important conference vote on the Thornhill Review

The Thornhill Review into what went wrong at the 2019 general election found that, “The Federal Board was often a rubber-stamp” and is “too large a group to be a realistic decision-making body”.


The Thornhill Review into what went wrong at the 2019 general election found that, “The Federal Board was often a rubber-stamp” and is “too large a group to be a realistic decision-making body”.

It’s 41 in size and on Friday evening, conference will be voting on plans to change that to 16. There’s a reason we don’t have local party executives or Council Cabinets of 41… Of the 16, only three will be appointed for this specific expertise (finance, elections and membership) with all the other 13 all having to win party elections to be on the Board. That will still include a Board member elected by our local government community - and being one voting member out of 16 rather than one out of 36 at present, they’ll have a greater say in the new setup.

We need to get these changes through at this conference because later this year we’ll be electing the federal party committees that will be in place through to the next general election. But Board reform for us is a bit like House of Lords reform or Parliamentary refurbishment is for MPs. Lots of people say they’re in favour of it but somehow always find a reason not to progress quite now or in quite this form… and so progress never happens.

Friday night is our chance to put that right. The debate starts at 7.55pm and votes will be from around 8.45pm.

There are three reform options on offer - a smaller Board, a smaller Board plus a new scrutiny committee or a smaller Board plus a party council. Any of the three will be a huge step forward. The debate will also include an amendment from two of our council leaders - Stephen Robinson and Lucy Nethsingha - to toughen up the scrutiny elements of the new proposals.

So please make it to vote to ensure we get this important part of the Thornhill Review in place, not only ahead of the next general election but also ahead of important rounds of local elections before then too.

Mark Pack

President, Liberal Democrats