I've often said history points to two routes for Liberal Democrat (and before that Liberal Party) revivals. One, which we'd much rather avoid, is a foreign disaster - Iraq, former Yugoslavia, Suez… The other is seizing electoral opportunities outside Westminster general elections to give us momentum, increased prominence and growing relevance.
After Sarah Green's brilliant win in Chesham and Amersham, we saw the boost that gave the party nationally with consistently higher poll ratings and greater media attention.
Now we've got a chance - a real chance - to pull off something even bigger in North Shropshire.
Some people are most moved by positive messages, others by negative messages, so let give you one of each: Helen Morgan and Boris Johnson.
Helen is a fantastic candidate and would make a brilliant MP. Other words apply to Boris Johnson… What a Christmas present for Helen winning would be, and what a Christmas headache for Johson that would be too.
There's still time to make a difference to the result.
Please do help if you can. Details of how to help are on Helen Morgan's website.
As well as fixing internal elements of the party following the Thornhill Review into what went wrong in 2019, we also need to apply the lessons about political messaging too. We need to give voters a clear sense of what the difference is that electing Liberal Democrats makes - and to start that conversation with them by understanding what matters to them.
That is why giving people a fair deal was at the heart of Ed Davey's conference speech this autumn. It reflects the values at the heart of liberalism and taps into public disillusionment over Boris Johnson's 'one rule for you, no rules for me' attitude.
To help flesh out the ideas behind the speech, the Federal Policy Committee (FPC) has a new working group chaired by Julia Goldsworthy. There will be a consultation session at federal conference and then later a motion.
See FPC Vice Chair Jeremy Hargreaves's latest report for more details on this and our other policy work.
Excellent news for our Spring Federal Party Conference. Alongside the virtual event, ALDC will be piloting an in-person event, Conference Live, with a particular focus on campaign training and briefing.
It will be held in York and registrations for Conference Live will include registration for the online conference too.
It has taken a lot of behind the scenes work from Federal Conference Committee officers, party staff and the ALDC team to figure out how to make this work. Thank you to them all for working together to pilot something new.
Our December Federal Board was put back until after North Shropshire polling day to free up more time for campaigning. Thank you to the many other parts of the party who also rescheduled meetings so we can concentrate on the immediate electoral opportunity.
When the Board meets, it will also take a look at first lessons from North Shropshire, plans to improve our membership engagement next year, the work our election committee (FCEC) has done examining the impact of deals with the Greens and finalising plans for Board reform to put to Spring conference. More on those in my next report.
Launched for the first time this year, the fund supports campaign experiments which improve our evidence for what does, and doesn't, work in campaigning. The grants for next year will focus on digital campaigning.
A program of emailing around 5,000 party members a week asking them to enhance the diversity data we hold about them has started. Improving our records will enable us to better understand what efforts are needed and where so that we can improve our record on diversity and inclusion.
The Lighthouse membership system is also being updated around the turn of the year so that local parties will be able to see the diversity data for their patch and better understand how their own efforts are working.
If you get an email asking you to take part in the survey, please do take a few minutes to do so.
One of the party's consistently best innovators at using data for campaigning, Andrew Mclean, passed away recently. He was always a kind, conscientious and helpful colleague - finding new data and writing new code to improve our campaigning and make our data better.
Even if you've not heard of Andrew, the chances are you've benefited from his work - such as improving the addressing of direct mail that we hand-deliver or adding extra data behind the scenes to our Connect database.
Much love and sympathy to his family and friends.
Finally, as this is my last monthly report of the year, best wishes for Christmas and the new year. Thank you for all your help and support during 2021, which mean that we can look forward with confidence to growing successes in 2022.
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