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Party President election – vote Susan Kramer

October 25th, 2010 Posted in Liberal Democrats by

Liberal Vision’s Andy Mayer recently interviewed Tim Farron and Susan Kramer, granting each candidate a chance to explain why they should be elected as the new Liberal Democrat Party President. We would like to thank Tim and Susan for their time in answering Andy’s questions. Liberal Vision has thousands of Lib Dem readers, and it’s heartening to see both candidates communicating openly and honestly with the party’s activists.

Even through print on a screen, Tim’s alacrity comes through, and he certainly appears to be an energetic, charismatic media star in the making. Hopefully these qualities will prove to be a great boon for the party.

However, it is a concern that nearly all of the “good” policies that Tim wishes to promote as core Liberal Democrat beliefs involve even greater government intervention – protecting or increasing state spending (housing benefit), the 50p rate of income tax, state control of areas to provide “free” services (“no tuition fees, free personal care, and free eye and dental tests”) and so on.

Liberal Vision does not believe that tax increases are “about asking people for more money for something they know to be right, buying peace of mind and social equity…” As we state on this website:

“…we [Liberal Vision] believe people should be in control of their own lives, and to do so it is essential that they have more control over how they spend their money. We support a reduction in the overall tax burden. Too much of the wealth we produce is controlled by politicians and bureaucrats and not enough by ordinary men and women.”

It is also unclear whether Tim feels that all individuals and organisations should have the freedom to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexuality, or whether this is just a freedom that Christian (and perhaps other religious) groups should be granted.

While policy formulation should not be a part of the President’s job, Tim’s examples suggest that the more interventionist policies are those that, typically, would be championed by him as President, in a bid to “articulate what the Lib Dems are for”, as a counter-balance to the policies of the Coalition.

Susan Kramer, meanwhile, presents herself as a different kind of President – a grassroots campaigner, looking to strengthen the relationship between the party’s hierarchy and its support base rather than using the Presidency to publicly counter-balance the Coalition.

This may be a preferable role for President, yet it would be nice to see some stronger ideas on how it can be achieved. Susan, like Tim, seems opposed to any real structural reform in the party. On ideas like giving all members a vote at conference, and reaching out to more Lib Dem supporters (not necessarily members), there is uncertainty and a lack of resolution or solid alternatives.

On policy issues, some of Susan’s record may concern members of Liberal Vision – the stance against lifestyle freedoms such as smoking and hunting, to take two examples. However, she is “comfortable being seen as an Orange Book liberal” and spoke well about the need for pragmatism in party politics while maintaining a principled stance on core civil liberties (90 day detention without trial, for example). Reassuring stuff, and particularly important while in government (last week a Guest Post on this site demonstrated how principles in opposition are often forgotten once in power).

But most importantly, one gets the feeling that Susan’s political views would not influence her performance as President, during which she would hope to inject energy into the party during its time in government, and ensure that the party as a whole doesn’t simply become a back-drop to the Lib Dem Cabinet members at the top of the pyramid.

Tim Farron’s talents are evident, yet would perhaps be suited to a different role in the near future. For now Susan Kramer appears the best candidate for this position. Her commitment to and affection for the party seems genuine, and hopefully she will get the chance to demonstrate her qualities as the next Liberal Democrat Party President.

4 Responses to “Party President election – vote Susan Kramer”

  1. Foregone Conclusion Says:

    I’m sure Susan really appreciates your endorsement.

  2. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Foregone – I am quite sure she wont !! on the other hand Liberal Vision has recently had certain Lib Dem MP’s ask if they can link to our site, have had a startling number of sign ups to our blog, went to the recent party conference where we were positively embraced by party members…. so maybe liberalism is alive and well and dare I say it standing proud in the ranks. If this is the case then there may well be people out there who think it is right for LV to interview the candidates…and then, well it would be cowardly not to voice an opinion on who might make the best president for the party. dont you think?

  3. Psi Says:

    Angela, don’t assume your endorsement won’t be appreciated. There is a libertarian streak still in the rank and file as there is a statist streak. I think everyone will appreciate any additional contribution to the debate.

  4. Julian Harris Says:

    Thanks for the sensible comment, Psi. I would also add that, while I call myself a libertarian, Liberal Vision is a group for “classical liberals” who adhere to the Vision articulated on this website. Many (probably most) Liberal Vision members call themselves liberals rather than libertarians. There is, for example, support for a welfare state within LV. Many Lib Dems believe in government, but they believe that government is currently too big, unaccountable, undemocratic and overly centralised. They want smaller, localised government, more personal freedoms, tolerance and protection of civil liberties. Such Lib Dems are entirely welcome in LV, and hundreds are signing up through the sky-blue box on the right hand side of the screen.