Following extensive consultation within the party, the Federal Board asked the Federal People Development Committee to develop a formal scheme for registered supporters. This is in keeping with the Party's agreed strategy to create a political and social movement and forms part of proposals to open up our structures which are being debated at Spring Conference in York.
More than 10,000 people have so far expressed interest in joining a supporter scheme. There are thousands more who already support our campaigns in different ways. With this new scheme, we have the potential to significantly increase the number and diversity of people involved in our party, and to overtake the Conservatives as the second largest political force in the country.
Purpose of a registered supporters scheme
Registered supporters will have regular contact with the Federal Party about news and campaigns and invitations from local parties to events and campaigning activities. (Local parties will have access to their details to contact them, just as with members.) Supporters will be able to attend conferences in a non-voting capacity and will be consulted on campaign issues and policy ideas (separate from member consultations). If approved at the Spring conference in York, they will also be eligible to vote for the leader of the party, subject to further requirements and protections.
Members will continue to be the only ones to decide party policy and governance, vote at conference, serve on party committees and as party officers, select party candidates and stand for election to Parliament, devolved bodies and local councils.
In line with our membership rules, becoming a registered supporter is open to anyone regardless of age, provided they declare that they are in sympathy with our philosophy. There is no charge to join and a streamlined procedure will remove anyone found acting in ways incompatible with our beliefs.
Many of our best seats have longstanding volunteers who are members of other parties, voting tactically for us. For this reason, the supporter scheme will be open to members of other parties, to help them take the first step towards realising they should be Liberal Democrats. In any vote for party leader, a separate party selection register will be created for supporters. This will include additional protections, such as extra identity tests to prevent entryism and to remove members of other parties from voting.
The Federal People Development Committee - the body responsible for our membership, diversity and training - has developed these rules after careful consideration. A detailed explanation of their thinking, prepared by Miranda Roberts, Chair of the committee, is available separately and is recommended reading for those who would like to know more.
Read the full briefing here:
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