Monday, October 25, 2010

Simon Hughes is not Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Stephen Tall reminds us of an important but subtle distinction in a Comment is Free article on the Guardian website:
Simon's full title is Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons. (Navnit Dholakia is the party's "other deputy leader" representing Lib Dem peers in the Lords.) He is not, therefore, deputy leader of the party, though that is how he is styled in the media.
He does not say this to denigrate Simon, but to emphasise that his recent and well-founded concern about the Coalition's housing and social security proposals should be seen in a proper light.

Mind you, this is a distinction that the party has been happy to blur when it has suited it. As Stephen goes on to point out, we were happy to describe Vince Cable as our "deputy leader" when he was at the height of his popularity.

It also occurs to me that the Liberal Democrats have rather a lot of senior but slightly ill-defined positions. As well as a deputy leader the parliamentary party in the Commons also has a chair. And we are currently electing a new President of the party as a whole.

Do we need all these posts and are we clear what the role of each is?

Mentioning the chair of the parliamentary party reminds me that when Mark Oaten held this post he was always described in the press as "Chair of the Liberal Democrats". For some reason this confusion has not plagued later holders of the post.


dreamingspire said...

I followed Ros Scott's blog during the period when she decided to stand for Chair and got it, and then continued to follow until she decided that she had to close the blog. She seemed very clear about the essential role of the Chair.

dreamingspire said...

Sorry: President. (Haste and speed come to mind.)