Debate Magazine

Why I’m Backing Sal Brinton for Party President

Posted on the 12 October 2014 by Lesterjholloway @brolezholloway

bzrenz9cyai2th3The contest to replace Tim Farron as Lib Dem party president enters the final straight on Wednesday when the official starting gun is fired.

I’m backing Sal Brinton as the best candidate for the role for the following reasons:

It’s about the grassroots

The job of party president has worked best when it is not used as a launch-pad for greater things. Lord Navnit Dholakia is a great example of an energetic president with no wish to become an MP or party leader. As a result, the needs and priorities of the grassroots came first. To the best of my knowledge Sal does not seek either.

It’s not about the leadership or factions

Another key criteria for party president is being able to unite the various strands of the party. It is helpful to be able to communicate with the party leadership but Sal’s votes in the House of Lords, including joining a rebellion over Government attempts to bite a lump out of the Equalities Act, show that she’s no lackey.

It’s about gravitas

Sal is no lightweight. Her long history in the party gives her an important depth of understanding so that when she speaks people listen because, whether you agree or disagree with her, she has thought about her position. As a result, I believe she can influence both party officials and, where necessary, the parliamentary leadership, and will be taken seriously.

It’s about having a grip on party policy

In the forthcoming general election it is crucial that the party president has the depth of understanding of policy and our achievements in government and being able to sell them well in the media. Sal is long enough in the tooth to be able to cope with awkward interview questions, stay calm under pressure and not forget her role representing ordinary members as well as the party line.

It’s about independence

Anyone who has seen Sal in action knows she can be a fearsome opponent! She is no push-over and if she believes in something no-one, from Nick Clegg downwards, is going to change her mind easily. The notion, prompted in some circles, that she is Clegg’s candidate is misguided in my view. Even if she has a direct line to the top, few stand a better chance of getting their way than Sal.

It’s about diversity

In a recent poll on race equality I conducted with the four presidential candidates Sal and Linda Jack were by far the most progressive. Linda probably shaded it and gets my second preference, but overall Sal gets my first preference. Sal has a good understanding of all equalities strands, from her time chairing the Diversity Engagement Group and delivering equalities training to the party, and there is reason to believe she gets the need for action on BAME representation and has clearly thought about ways this can be delivered.

For all these reasons Sal gets my vote.

By Lester Holloway @brolezholloway

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