The relatively new Chief Executive of the Party, Tim Gordon, gives the impression of being a Good Thing — and this week he has announced his first big change to how things will work. Alongside the ending of Liberal Democrat News and it’s transformation into a new magazine, a move that has been long overdue, there is a significant restructuring of the organisation at Party HQ.
This restructure will result in 5 new directorates: Elections and Field, Political Communication, Commercial (including conferences and fundraising), Finance and Operations, and finally Digital. While some of the language and terminology is a bit off, I think this new structure makes a lot of sense and is clearer and less confusing than the old structure.
The creation of a Digital directorate is particularly welcome. Data and online communications are key services for the centre to provide and coordinate in a distributed and devolved organisation like a political party. This move raises the importance and profile of this key activity. Let’s hope that it leads to a significant improvement on the Party’s woefully inadequate recent performance in this area.
Also to be welcomed I think is the creation of this combined Political Communications directorate. The Party has a number of challenging issues to face up to around how it campaigns, and these HQ changes won’t do much to tackle most of them. However, in the context of coalition government, it is pretty obvious that the Party has been failing to properly communicate it’s messages. Greater coordination and clearer lines of responsibility at HQ should go some way to address this problem.
So a big thumbs up for what looks like a set of sensible reforms.
While I am pleased with these changes, my biggest grumbles about party organisation in the past have not been with HQ, but with Leaders and Presidents. No matter how more effectively you organise your communication you can only do so much if the quality of the messages themselves are poor. The responsibility for that rests with the politicians. Party staff can only work with the political canvass they are given. So I do hope that this good news is further accompanied by a greater level of attention being given to issues of party management by the leadership.