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Lessons of Coalition (7): what do we Lib Dems need to learn?

August 9, 2013 2:05 PM
By Mark Pack in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

CoalitiobLibDemVoice is running a daily feature, 'Lessons of Coalition', to assess the major do's and don'ts learned from our experience of the first 3 years in government. Reader contributions are welcome, either as comments or posts. The word limit is no more than 450 words, and please focus on just one lesson you think the party needs to learn. Simply email your submission to and copy

Today Mark Pack shares his thoughts.

The invisible ministers should up their game, or be sacked

For the start of both 2011 and 2012, I wrote about the challenges the party faced in government. I didn't do a 2013 sequel because I couldn't think of much to say other than "see 2011 and 2012".

However, in one respect my view has got tougher another year and a half on. The party can't afford the luxury of the invisible junior ministers - those who do a perfectly nice, decent job somewhere in the bowels of government but are almost never heard of and do almost nothing to win the party votes or attract new members.

Yes, it's tough being a minister and an MP, taking up for the conscientious the amount of time that in any other profession would have people demanding huge cuts in the hours worked.

But the good ones know that communicating and winning support isn't an optional extra to be postponed until that mythical free day finally arrives. The good ones know that it is an inherent part of the job - because without coverage, members and votes there ends up being no ministers either.

As for the bad ones, despite being a minister they email fewer party members, secure less press coverage and do less to build up the party than I do, despite me having a full time non-political job. (The same applies too of course to others in the party too. I just happen to notice my own activities more closely and so know the benchmark against which I'm judging others.)

There's really no excuse for doing so badly as a minster.

Three years in, if a minister hasn't worked out how to do better than that, should they still be a minister? I think not.

And if Nick Clegg is as serious about repeatedly winning power as he tells the rest of us to be, then he should be giving them all the simple choice: play your part in the party's political success, or say goodbye to being a minister.

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

Previously Published:

Stephen Tall: Stronger policy development and campaigning on issues that matter to the public (AKA where's our liberal equivalent of the benefits cap?)

Mark Valladares: Better party communications responding to the realities of governing

Gareth Epps: Government: What's Occurrin?

Nick Thornsby: Making a success of coalition government as a concept

Caron Lindsay: That old "walk a mile in each others' shoes" thing works

Louise Shaw: One member, one vote for all party elections

Note from the Webmaster

All responses to this series of five articles will be posted on the website and forwarded to Phil.Kowles - Policy Officer for the East Midlands and Lucy Care our representative on Federal Policy Committee