Lib Dem party structure “tailor-made for trouble”

September 20, 2010

Liberal Democrats are proud of the democratic character of their party. The members have sovereign rights over party policy, proposing, amending and debating motions at their two conferences a year.

But is that the best way to run things now the party is unexpectedly in government? Historian Dennis Kavanagh thinks not. The structure of the party is tailor-made for trouble, he told a fringe meeting at the LibDem autumn conference in Liverpool on Sunday.

It has an elaborate constitution that suited a party that didn’t expect to get into power, for people who don’t want to take decisions and would rather have debates, he said.  As a result, the structure gives dissidents a lot of room to cause delay when they don’t like a policy the leadership – now in the cabinet – wants to adopt.

Kavanagh sets out his case in this short video clip recorded after the event, a meeting of the Liberal Democrat History Group.

Kavanagh, Emeritus Professor of Politics at Liverpool University, has co-written histories of  every general election since 1974, the latest being “The British General Election of 2010″ (published by Palgrave Macmillan) with Nottingham University’s Philip Cowley.

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