Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
As another year draws to a close, I have been spending some time reflecting on the past twelve months and looking ahead to all that awaits us in 2018.
In a world beset with political upheaval and socio-economic uncertainty, one of the things that gives me hope is that the voices of Liberal Democrats like yours and mine - too often maligned and shouted down - will rise above the white noise of authoritarianism and isolationism, to help shape a country which is open, tolerant, fair and united.
This hope, I think, is founded on increasingly stable ground. The public mood is starting to shift on Brexit, with Liberal Democrat calls for the public to have a vote on the deal gaining more and more support. This is certainly what we were hearing from our members at our highly successful Regional Conference at University of Birmingham Staff House on 18th November. It was attended by Vince Cable and Sir Graham Watson and ably organised by our Conference Chair, Richard Vos - huge thanks! Our newly-elected Regional Executive is listed below for information and congratulations to the new colleagues all those who have joined us. We are delighted to welcome you.
Across the country, we are making gains at a local level, taking seats from Conservatives and Labour. Membership of our party is at record levels, as people reject the dominant extreme narratives of our time and connect with the responses that we are making, to combat homelessness, to address inequality, to fight environmental degradation, and to help shape a fairer society fit for the 21st century.
In the West Midlands, we see many challenges across our diverse region. We must ensure that our rural communities are connected and resourced for modern living whilst urban lives are sustained and refreshed with a work-life balance and green spaces. Agriculture, manufacturing, technology, service, and knowledge industries play an important part in our regional identity, alongside the traditional professions.
I am grateful for the warm welcome and kindness of all those I have visited in recent months in Shropshire, Worcestershire, Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield, Walsall, and the Black Country and I see we have a base to build on in the coming year. The people I talk to as I travel around the region never fail to raise with me the huge contributions made to our communities by schools, hospitals, and local community groups, and ask what we can do to better support them.
My answer to that frames my personal commitment for 2018; that is, to work tirelessly to ensure Liberal Democrats are elected to decision-making positions across the region.
To do this, I have been working with others to refresh and reshape how we lead and manage the regional party. In a political environment that has changed significantly in recent years, it is right we look to the future to find new ways of influence; in the New Year I will set out our renewed commitment to connecting with members and local parties, our plans for rejuvenating how we communicate with members and non-members, and our priorities for campaigning locally and regionally.
Only by returning more Liberal Democrats to positions of influence and responsibility will we be able to shape a country which is open, tolerant, and united.
Please get in touch if you want to find a way in which you can get involved, maybe by contributing an hour or two of your professional expertise, or sharing your experience and/or enthusiasm. Maybe your New Year’s Resolution could be to play a more active part in the Liberal Democrats!
If you are celebrating Christmas, spending time with family or friends, or simply keeping the wheels of our great country turning at this time, then please accept my warm wishes for a happy and healthy end to the year. Let’s make 2018 a tremendous time for Liberal Democrats in the West Midlands!
WMLD EXECUTIVE ELECTED MEMBERS
- President Baroness Burt, remained in place unopposed
- Chair of the Regional Party Beverley Nielsen, elected
- Vice-Chair (Rural) Susan Juned, elected
- Vice-Chair (Urban) Jennifer Gray, elected
- Secretary Chloe Hughes-Cullinan, elected
- Treasurer Philip How, elected
- Chair Regional Candidates Committee Jock Gallagher, elected
- Chair Regional Policy Committee William McGrath, elected
- Chair Regional Conference Committee Vacant
- Chair Campaigns Committee Richard Vos, elected
- Ordinary Members:
- Hakil Ahmed (co-opted)
- Phillip Bennion (elected)
- Adam Fejcham (co-opted)
- Richard Whelan (elected)
- John Kelly (elected)
- Youth/students Rep (elected by YL) Sophie Thornton
- Parliamentary Rep (elected by Candidates) Ian Garrett
- Councillor Rep (elected by Councillors) Cllr Roger Harmer
- Additional Co-options:
- Chair of Local Parties David Hartley
- VC Strategy Richard Longman
- Regional Co-ordinator Izzy Knowles
- Disabilities Carol Fletcher
- John Kelly assigned to Chair of Fundraising
- Members responsible for:
- Data and GDPR Adam Schemmanoff
- Newsline Editor Ted Logan
- Training Vacant
- Membership Retention and Development Vacant
- Media, IT & Communications Vacant
- Equalities and Diversities Vacant
DIARY NOTE - 2018 EVENTS
Birmingham City University is looking forward to welcoming Professor AC Grayling to talk about Brexit and its implications for our democracy. All Liberal Democrat members will be most welcome and you can sign up free here: http://www.bcu.ac.uk/news-events/citytalks
For those with a more academic interest in Brexit then Birmingham City University’s Centre for Brexit Studies holds its Annual Conference on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th March 2018 with a line up encompassing a host of key figures from the Brexit cast including Anna Soubry MP, Bernard Jenkin MP, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, alongside economists Patrick Minford, Vicky Pryce, and John Mills. There is a charge for this event; those interested can sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-centre-for-brexit-studies-cbs-annual-conference-2018-tickets-39869648191
Heart of England Community Energy Company (HECE) is looking to bring our solar farms near Stratford-upon-Avon into community ownership. Heart of England Community Energy (HECE) is the UK’s largest community energy company. They are holding an event for interested people to know more about HECE and the benefits of community-owned renewable energy projects. All are welcome. This will be on Wednesday 24th January, 6:30 to 9:30pm; Stratford Town Hall Sheep Street Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6EF
NOTE: If you have an event you would like us to publicise that is of interest to your community across the West Midlands please let us know. Regular upcoming events will be posted our our WM Liberal D