Having met a large swathe of the Welsh Party in South Wales over the past few days, I have been impressed by their enthusiasm and sense of optimism, not something that you always encounter.
However, the Welsh Party, like its Scottish counterpart, suffers from a lack of resourcing. Unlike the English Regions, whose back-office functions are handled by Cowley Street, the Welsh and Scottish Parties employ staff to do these jobs.
Don't get me wrong, this is far from being a call for an amalgamation of our three State Parties into one Federal bureaucracy. However, I wonder if we could be more efficient if we could reach some mutually acceptable shared positions. For example, Parliamentary candidate assessment varies between the three States, meaning that a member approved in Wales needs to go through a further process in order to run in, say, Shrewsbury and Atcham. English Regions benefit from cross-regional collaboration. Scotland and Wales do not.
And yet, Wales has a membership one-third that of London, Scotland half that of London. London supports a part-time administrator and two full-time campaigns officers. Can Scotland and Wales really afford to go it alone?
I am more respectful of our Federal structure than most. In an era of devolved government in Scotland and Wales (and London, lest we forget), it would be politically suicidal to move policy and campaigning functions away from Edinburgh and Cardiff. Indeed, any kind of reform would need to be instigated by the Scottish and Welsh Liberal Democrats, and not imposed from on high by a Federal (read English) hierarchy. But if we are serious about making this political party as 'lean and mean' as we can without losing effectiveness, sometimes pragmatism needs to come before pride.