From the chair – 2020 vision
By Keith Melton
From the chair - 2020 vision
This is my first article for the GLD website as newly elected Chair of the Green Liberal Democrats. So, my first happy task is to say a big `thank you` to all of you who voted for me. My second task is to say `thank you` to Peter Bruce for a friendly `campaign` and an even bigger `thank you` to him for all the sterling work he has done over a considerable time as Vice Chair, Organisation.
Next, a big `thank you` to Graham Neale for guiding GLD from around 300 members to over 900 during his tenure as Chair and leaving us in a great state to carry on the good work. We have a great platform, now, to move onwards and upwards. Also, Graham has taken on the role I have just vacated as Vice Chair, Campaigns, so we will not lose his enthusiasm and skills from the group.
One more `thank you`, to Simon Oliver, our treasurer and keeper of the GDPR who, despite struggling with a bad cold (no, apparently not coronavirus!) managed to put together a last minute extension of online voting and all the various announcements and technical jiggery-pokery that went with creating our Virtual AGM. Well done, sir!
Coronavirus and the GLD
The start of my tenancy in the Chair has already been affected by the global Coronavirus outbreak, because the Party`s Spring conference in York was cancelled at short notice, of course, and we had to quickly scramble to hold our delayed AGM virtually, using Zoom. It will also surely have an impact upon what we do from now on, too, as we face lockdowns and more draconian measures as the crisis unfolds.
For example, it is now almost certain that we need at least to postpone or cancel - or, better yet - rethink the GLD Annual Conference, which we were planning for the end of June. We were also taking advantage of our growing status and membership to consider holding a Summer School. This was going to be an ambitious extension of activity on the Sunday immediately following the Conference on the Saturday. However, both of these events would be taking place right at the expected PEAK of the Coronavirus impact in the UK. Thus, if events are being cancelled now, it is most unlikely such events would be deemed `safe` at the end of June!
In fact, we are now contemplating creating a "Virtual GLD Conference". There are many things to consider as to how to do this effectively, so watch this space for further news. We will probably need a whole new set of skills to do it justice! So if you HAVE such skills and can help us get ahead of the curve, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what those skills are.
Equally the Summer School will probably get a makeover as a series of webinars and/or podcasts to share and get involved with. Indeed, I rather hope we can develop this into the sort of thing that can help to keep people entertained and informed during the weeks and months of potential "lockdown" - as and when that may come into operation.
The new GLD Executive Committee
The full set of results of nominations and elections is listed elsewhere on the GLD website, so I will not repeat the list here, but there will be some gaps to fill. One of the early tasks of your new Executive Committee will be to find ways to complete the full range of posts and skills we will need "going forward" as the current management jargon has it.
Unfortunately, Laura Sykes, who was nominated as the sole contender for Vice Chair, Communications, has had to withdraw for health reasons, so I am sure you`ll join with me in wishing her a speedy recovery. The good news is that we have had a high-profile volunteer to cover this gap for us for the time being, at least through to the expected LD Autumn Conference. Returning MEP, Jane Brophy, has indicated a willingness to fill this seat for the moment, so I will be recommending the Exec to consider Jane`s offer in the most positive terms!
The biggest pair of shoes we then have left to fill are those of retiring Vice Chair Organisation, Peter Bruce. Peter has decided he will take a step back from the exec, at least for the moment, and we shall miss his tireless efforts and general good humour. He has, however, indicated a willingness to lend a hand on an ad hoc basis, so we will not lose his accumulated knowledge entirely, thank goodness.
Although she is too busy to contemplate fulfilling the whole role Peter is vacating, former exec member, Linda Johnson, has indicated she would be more than willing to take on an unofficial role as "Minutes Secretary". This non-executive role will ensure we can keep good records of our discussions and decisions, and I shall be taking up her offer to do just that. Thank you, Linda.
Kevin Daws has chosen to `retire` from the task he has developed as a star of the Twitterati on behalf of GLD. Kevin has racked up huge numbers of regular followers of GLD on both Twitter and Instagram and so we have to find someone - or probably a whole sub-committee! - to replace his efforts on our behalf. Grateful thanks extended to Kevin who has spent an inordinate amount of time fulfilling this task! So I would like to hear more from members with expertise on social media development - contact email@example.com again.
The exec also has quite wide powers of co-option and a number of people have volunteered or been mentioned in this light. The first meeting of the new executive committee this next weekend, will have a significant item on the agenda to discuss cooption as well as possible sub-committees and regional development (see below).
Sub-committees and regional development
Lastly, for the moment anyway, I would just like to emphasise the need for us to "catch up" with ourselves and the exponential membership growth we have seen over the last three years. Membership of GLD in 2017 was around 300, but that has tripled since then and is now creeping up to 1000 Green Liberal Democrats.
Amongst all you new members, as well as existing GLD members, there is a wealth of experience in many different areas. As you will see from the article about our "Green Heroes" campaign in our bumper issue of Challenge, we revealed a very wide range of environmental interests and expertise which we should be tapping into. We also need to generate and manage greater engagement with our environmental concerns, both among members and within the Liberal Democrats generally.
That is going to need many more people involved in activity than just our officers and executive members. Most of this new activity will necessarily be relatively informal, but will need to be keyed into the formal structure of the exec committee. So, we will be establishing sub-groups or sub-committees reporting through officers to the committee to help in all sorts of areas, from fund-raising to fracking and from policy to politics.
So, please don`t be shy! If you know yourself to have certain skills and knowledgeable expertise, share it with us on the committee and get yourself involved in developing the strengths of the Green Lib Dems both within the Party and campaigning to the outside world. Alongside this range of expertise there will be chances to get involved in action-oriented campaigning within YOUR regions, as we set up regional membership groups to help push the green agenda where YOU are.
I am r eally looking forward to getting stuck in to the tasks ahead and building on the great work undertaken during the "Graham Neale Era" of GLD. Many thanks, Graham for building such a great asset during your time as Chair - I consider myself lucky to be able to build on this inheritance, especially at such a critical time when our political expertise is needed so very much.
Keith Melton, Chair, GLD