Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Coffee Time Chat with Mister Viking Leader Part the First

As I typed yesterday the 4 of us the Lady Caron, Mister Pinkfish, Mister Stephen and myself found ourselves facing Mister Viking Leader over a cup of coffee or Earl Grey tea. Having long been a fan of the pachyderm school of blogging I was longing to get into my first political interview. However, I found myself a little tongue tied and left the asking of questions to my three human blogging friends.

The Party

He was asked by Mister Pinkfish how did he find his new role as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Mister Viking Leader said it is what you make of it, but that he wasn't into playing all those Holyrood games he wanted to make a real change to the people of Scotland's lives by making things that actually affect them. It's why he is getting out from behind his desk at the Parliament to meet people in various constituencies, helping candidates and incumbents. He's also encouraging MSPs and councillors to do the same. We're a party that listens to the people and to do that we need to be out there to hear what is going on.

There was a question based on some recent discussions on the blogosphere about membership and the role of supporters. Mister Viking Leader seemed all in favour of some way of accounting for the supporters, those who don't actually join our party but are willing to support in numerous ways. He said that in Shetland a lot of what gets done in done by such people. There was also a question about lessons the party could learn from the Barack Obama Campaign. Again our leader emphasised that grass roots really does deliver as it has done time and again in Lib Dem history. There is the challenge in just how we can raise money. Yes we have a team trying to raise big donations but we need to grow our base and get membership up to help cover the running costs. He also said we had to look at how Barack had pitched to the students, we could learn from that as like him we have a lot to say to them. It was good to see more of Liberal Youth Scotland taking part in debates this conference as well.

He was asked why so much of our party appeared to be white men of a certain age and what we could do to increase diversity. Mister Viking Leader admitted that our party in Westminster and Holyrood did at times not appear to reflect the membership, or the country as a whole. He praised the work done by various groups within the party that sought to increase diversity in the pool of candidates both by ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. But that we really needed to look still more and study new ways to encourage new people in and to put themselves forward for key, winnable seats to spread that diversity. However, we'd maintain a level of local party decision making in the process to find the best person and not impose ethnic or gender specific short lists to achieve some sort of balance.

Still to come...


...Local Authorities...

...some thoughts of Holyrood games...

...plus four important little words.

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