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Federal Elections; your candidates

November 22, 2016 11:01 AM
Originally published by Humanist and Secularist Liberal Democrats

Voting instructions for our party's federal elections are due to start going out today, and we've invited all HSLD members who are candidates in the elections to submit a statement of up to 250 words.

So far, we've received statements for the following elections:

  • Federal Board
    • Helen Flynn, Caron Lindsay, Gordon Lishman
  • Federal Conference Committee
    • Zoe O'Connell, Joe Otten
  • Federal Policy Committee
    • Michael Kilpatrick, Gordon Lishman
  • Delegation to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE)
    • Peter Price

Below are the candidates' statements, in alphabetical order:

  • Helen Flynn
  • Michael Kilpatrick
  • Caron Lindsay
  • Gordon Lishman
  • Zoe O'Connell
  • Joe Otten
  • Peter Price

If we receive statements from further candidates, we'll add them to this page.

Helen Flynn (Federal Board)

To me, it is vital that we Liberal Democrats get the next stage in our development as a political force in the UK right. That is why I am standing for Federal Board, as I believe my skills and experience (PPC for Harrogate & Knaresborough, Social Liberal Forum Chair and former Harrogate Borough Councillor, as well as a variety of roles and jobs across multi sectors) would strengthen the strategic body at the centre of decision-making in our party.

There should be clear space now for us to occupy--and a clear constituency countrywide of liberal-minded voters--with the increasing right-wing drift in UK and world politics, as can be seen in the Brexit vote and the US presidential election.

I am convinced we need to campaign differently, and develop different messages to appeal to this constituency of voters and to make the case for liberalism as the relevant, dynamic force it should be in the 21st century. That is why we need new people on the Federal Board-not just the same old names.

Find out more about my background by looking me up on Linked In (I am "Helen Flynn"), or checking out my website: If you have any questions, contact me at

Michael Kilpatrick (Federal Policy Committee)

I am a member of the Exec of South Cambridgeshire Lib Dems and have supported the party and its predecessors since first voting in 1987. I identify myself as a democrat, a liberal, a monarchist and an atheist: wishing for a democratic constitutional monarchy in which our Parliament and Sovereign protect freedom of choice, belief and thought for all those of faith and no faith alike.

Having written and had a policy motion passed at the East of England conference called "Federalism and Fair Devolution", constitutional reform is my primary motivation for involvement in policy making. Reform of established religious is part of that. Freedom of thought and belief requires freedom from the thoughts and beliefs of others. This must extend to all walks of life, particularly education. My wife and I have two boys at primary school in an area where six of the seven nearest village schools are Church of England. This does not represent freedom of choice and thought.

Society should treat all social activities equally: my passion for making music is as important to my life as believing and taking part in religious activities is for someone of faith. No-one may presume otherwise. A liberal UK should not bestow privileges or special charitable/tax status upon one social activity but not others, yet a liberal UK must fiercely defend the freedom of all personal beliefs and lifestyle choices, whether in the minority or the majority.

Caron Lindsay (Federal Board)

I am standing for Federal Board because I want to continue standing up for the rights of members. Over the past 4 years, I've worked to ensure members had maximum choice and say in the Governance Review and input into the General Election Review. I' was part of the group who found a way to save the Membership Incentive Scheme and supported (S)AOs being able to recruit members directly.

Over the next three years the party needs to stick to its position on Brexit, rebuild its local government base and ensure membership recruitment is embedded in all our activity.

I proposed the electing diverse MPs motion at York and helped develop the BAME, gender and LGBT quotas for federal committees.

I've been a member of HSLD for several years. I am particularly interested in education and want to see sex education, which includes LGBT and consent issues, become mandatory in all schools. I do not think that pupils should be forced to take part in religious observances if they do not wish to do so.

I am a long term supporter of assisted dying and campaigned for both bills which have come before the Scottish Parliament.

Any questions? Contact me on or 07946 169798.

Gordon Lishman CBE (Federal Board & Federal Policy Committee)

I am a member of HSLD and the Federal Executive's link person with the organisation. I attend HSLD Committee meetings and advise on a range of Party matters.

As a member of the Government's Steering Group to establish the Equalities & Human Rights Commission and later the Senior Advisory Group for the 2010 Equalities Act, I worked closely with British Humanist Association representatives to have humanism fully recognised and to minimise the influence of faith groups. (I was representing the age strand of these bodies' work).

My long experience of the Federal Executive enables me to contribute and challenge on a wide range of issues. I focus particularly on good governance and party strategy (I moved the successful amendment to give party bodies and members a full say in contributing to and agreeing overall strategy).

Amongst other roles, I have been founder chair of ALDC, Chair of the Liberal International's Human Rights Committee, Editor of Liberator and New Outlook, President of the North-West Regional Party and even Vice-Chair of the Young Liberals (many years ago!). I wrote and summed up on the Liberal Party's original commitment to community politics. I chair Burnley Local Party. As Briercliffe organiser and Focus editor, I have lost one election in 30 years (a brief BNP incursion, soundly sent packing at the first opportunity).

If you want to know aught else or check my views, email me at or phone 07778 271177.

Zoe O'Connell (Federal Conference Committee)

I am re-standing for election to Federal Conference Committee, on which I am currently Vice-Chair, having spent the last two years working on transparency and equality issues. I have increased transparency by being the first to report on every motion and amendment selected or rejected during my term, which you can find at
My efforts on equality have included a redesign of the Speaker's Card, which is now laid out to enable people to more easily indicate their diversity and make it easier for debate chairs to ensure we strike an appropriate balance when it comes to allowing those from diverse background the chance to speak in debates. The anti-harassment email to all members prior to Autumn conference, of which I was the author, was also well received across the party.
I hope that you will be able to lend me your vote again this year, so that I can continue this work.

Joe Otten (Federal Conference Committee)

I am standing for election to FCC after having served for one conference as a substitute.

I have long been a member of the BHA and NSS, and before I became actively involved in the Liberal Democrats I helped to run the Sheffield Humanist Society.

I am concerned that when secularist items came to FCC, they were dismissed as 'too difficult' by some members. It is important that we stand up for what is a fundamental liberal value - of treating everybody equally irrespective of creed.

Conference is a showcase for our party. It must be bold in advancing liberal values and messages, and avoid getting bogged down in either detail or in issues that, frankly, require a bit of fudging. It needs to be part of a broader and more accessible debate within the party. @JoeOttenX

Peter Price (ALDE)

Humanists approach international affairs free of religious dogma and most are imbued with a sense of common humanity. Rational thought helps us to overcome prejudices and seek solutions to shared problems. Those attitudes have always motivated my actions.

Brexit - and Trump - have changed the context for ALDE's work. Brexit will be a dominant issue for several years. I am equipped to gain support from ALDE colleagues for our efforts to halt this tragedy or, at least, mitigate the effects of EU exit, having:

  • as member of ALDE Council, led for our Congress delegation on key topics and built links with other member parties;
  • deep understanding of EU issues - 15 years as MEP, including Chair of the Budgetary Control Committee, and continued EU involvement;
  • helped shape our EU-related policies and draft Euro-election manifestos, as Member of Federal Policy Committee;
  • contacts, through working with politicians from other countries, and knowledge of how to maximise our influence in ALDE.

I am able to utilise experience gained elsewhere, including:

  • Member of Chatham House, Global Strategy Forum, and other specialist bodies. Made many political visits to Asia, Africa and USA.
  • Legal expertise as a solicitor and former judge, who served on the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee.
  • Member of Parliamentary International Affairs Team, International Relations Committee and newly-formed working group on Britain's Place in the World.

My commitment is demonstrated by one of the best attendance records on ALDE and party bodies on which I serve.