Thursday, 14 August 2008

Bones - what's not in the summary

Yep - the summary of the Bones Commission report has been published and it's good that it has. But I understand that many of the most controversial sections are yet to surface. My worry is that more and more details (or half truths) will leak out and it may derail the minds of many at conference.

So what's not in the public domain yet?

Well, Bones proposes that a Fundraising Committee be set up - which is good.

As has already been mentioned in various places, it is proposed that the Federal Executive be replaced by a chief officers committee - which seems to me quite good in principle. But some of the people on this committee worry me. It will include the Chair of the Westminster and Holyrood Parliamentary Parties and of the Welsh Assembly Group and Matthew Hannay from the Leader's Office (among a few others). Now I like Matthew a lot, but to be honest, I don't really think he should become one of the most powerful people in the running of our Party simply because of his position in the Clegg Office. And I worry that the balance of the group will be skewed towards MPs/MSPs/AMs. I know that the current great and good might not be the right mix either, but this doesn't seem to me to be the right remedy.

Bones also suggests that target seat status should become the remit of the regional parties. I'm horrified by that proposal. I worry that target seat status will start to become conferred on the basis of factors other than winability - buggins turn, the gender or ethnicity of the PPC and geographical spread are all bad reasons to choose which seats to pin our hopes on. I believe that Chris Rennard and the Cowley Street team, taking into account all relevant factors and many years of experience, are better placed to make a decision which is so crucial to our electoral fortunes.

I am led to believe that the members of the FE were asked to accept the report even though they themselves were not allowed to read it.

As Paul Walter has said, a report that is kept under wraps for so long becomes deeply concerning. I believe that the full report needs to be published now so that a proper debate can be held on it at conference. Many of the changes would, after all, require conference approval (the existence and remit of the FE is a constitutional matter and so could only be dealt with by conference, whatever the FE itself said).

Disclaimer: I believe that what I have said above is correct. However, it is based on conversations with many different people and so I am prepared to stand corrected.


Anonymous said...

It's not the parly party chairs, it's the leaders of each, plus the English party chair. Hanney won't be on the committee but the Leaders Office - ie him - will provide secretarial support, so he'll have influence (just as much of the report seems to be his work).

It is odd that a report that says decision making should be streamlined and that the voluntary party should have strategic oversight only proposes setting up several new additional committees.

Anonymous said...

As anonymous said, Matthew Hanney won't be on the Chief Officers Group.

The FE is not disappearing but it has agreed (as a temporary measure until a proper new structure can be agreed) to hand its budget setting and powers on deciding strategy to the Chief Officers Group (COG). Other bodies that are also being asked to do this are POLD, FFAC, FCC, JSCC and ECE.

I am not sure what the other bodies have agreed to, but ECE have refused to do this until the make-up of COG has been agreed. At the moment, although there is a proposed make-up of COG, it hasn't been 100% sorted yet. I suspect that may be the final straw for those who want to abolish the English Party, but it is odd being asked to hand your powers over to a body, the membership of which has yet to be agreed.