And so I must regretfully accept my share of the blame, as a member of the Regional Candidates Committee who should know better. So, what did we get wrong?
- The timing of the selection – selections should aim to avoid clashing with elections, even if they aren’t where the selection is taking place. In this instance, we were obliged to have a Returning Officer from outside London Region, and then were surprised to find that she might actually have an election of her own to fight.
- The Selection Rules failed to take into account advances in internal campaigning techniques, especially those related to e-mail, websites and blogs.
We allowed ourselves to be railroaded into a timetable through a failure to think through the implications and, eventually, we ended up with a schedule determined by the availability of Membership Services. They aren’t at fault, they’re only doing what is possible in the light of their other obligations.
The problem is that the various elements of the Regional Party tend to operate as independent silos, focussing on their own areas of responsibility (a situation highlighted by Nick Clegg on Tuesday evening in relation to the Parliamentary Party, curiously enough), and are not always able to take into account the conflicting priorities of the broader team.
Brian Orrell, last year’s Regional Candidates Chair, drove forward the review of the Selection Rules with much energy. I’m not convinced that he had the active support of all of the other members, and freely admit that my attention was diverted by the ongoing bloodbath that was my divorce. I’ll try not to make that mistake in future…
We need to do better, and I believe that we can and will, but only by taking a longer-term view, planning better and, most importantly, consulting more widely. I’m working on a set of documents which will act as a framework for doing this and, if all goes well, we might all benefit from the lessons learnt…