I can sum up my strategy for the Party’s future in one sentence: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”.
1. We should have a task force set up to work on the 2020 General Election. Now.
2. We should have robust contingency plans in place, in case of an early General Election. Now.
3. We should have a team in place working on how we defend the Council seats we won in 2013 that are up for grabs in May. Now.
4. We should have a standing Parliamentary by-election team in place, ready at a moment’s notice to decamp across the country in case one is called. Now.
5. We need the expertise to head that team, and we need a separate bank account with fundraising taking place in advance so that we’re ready. Now.
6. We need to prepare for a future where we do not have MEPs, to see how our structure will change as we rightly redouble our efforts on Westminster. Now.
7. We need to develop and fund a Target Seat strategy for 2020. Now.
8. We need more support and training for sitting Councillors. Now.
All of the above are vitally urgent. We can’t really afford to wait until the end of a leadership election campaign for them to happen.
But there’s so much more that we need to do as a Party if we’re going to move on to the next level. We need to develop our messaging and polling, improve the quality of our literature and campaign materials, modernise the Party Constitution, bring power back to the Party membership, create a structure where branches and regions feel that their views are taken into account, develop our Party website and reform our membership structure.
The new Policy Committee seems to be doing an excellent job, but we need to highlight its work more and provide members the chance to have greater input. Policy will become even more important as we lay out our Party’s vision for what happens after 2020.
Nobody should underestimate the scale of the task that is required to fully professionalise the Party. This is all about a team approach, getting the professional Party right and better integrating the work done by our volunteers, the unsung heroes of the Party.
The Leader’s job is to provide direction and accountability at every stage of the process.