"Vorsprung durch Verwaltung" has always been my motto. By creating systems which inspire confidence, you can allow those with a flair for ideas to take an organisation forward on a secure footing. And, in a personally satisfying manner, I felt that I was able to achieve that at the ALDE Party Council meeting on Friday morning.
Fundraising is key to expanding the capacity of any organisation, and the ALDE Party is no different. The catch, and it is a serious one, is that reputational damage is an ever present possibility - is a donor's other activities likely to bring you into disrepute by association? And it was for that very reason that my colleagues on the Financial Advisory Committee and I had drafted a code of conduct for consideration and adoption by the Bureau. Indeed, I had 'stolen' most of the text contained within it from a similar document used in another organisation I have been involved in.
So, when it became clear that there were widespread concerns over the creation of a business club, relating to questions of ethics and transparency, it was nice to be able to step up to the microphone and point out that the means of reassurance were at hand. I was also able to propose a route via which that reassurance could be transmitted, thus avoiding an unnecessary debate at the Congress subsequently.
Everyone won - the Bureau, who look like they are on top of things, the Secretariat, who were able to demonstrate their efficiency, and me, because I come across as reasonable and helpful. Whilst that tends to be my default position anyway, it never hurts to give people a demonstration.
I even found an opportunity to raise one of my favourite topics - how to support emerging liberal parties and those operating in difficult environments - when discussion turned to revising the membership structure. The new rules mean that such parties don't get travel reimbursements at all, which strikes me as making it less likely that they will attend meetings. If one of the aims is to build stronger liberal forces, this may be a retrograde step, so I asked the Bureau if they might consider ways to overcome this. Their response was a hopeful one, but it's something I will follow up as need be.
All in all, I feel that I made a useful contribution, which seems to me to be rather the point of the exercise...