Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Counting and reflecting individuals 

Given the argy-bargy on support statistics over the last couple of days, I hesitate (but only slightly) to note that Chris Huhne now has 666 supporters names on his website. At least that what it is when I convert his list back to spreadsheet-readable form. On the up!

With the option of including party membership numbers in registering support on each candidates site, I trust the great majority of all names for all candidates are potential Party Voters. I have noticed one name on one supporters list which is the same name as a prominent nonLibDem blogger. No doubt this is a coincidence.

Moving on, looking at the discussions online on the Reflecting Britain Campaign (to which I am linked and backing) I was exited by Chris Huhne's commitment, before this campaign was launched, to put his personal authority and energy as leader if elected to supporting and encouraging the development and election of candidates from different backgrounds. It is one reason why I nominated him.

But two interlaced sets of thoughts.

Firstly we are perhaps doing a bit better in some places that the campaign sometimes implies. In my patch off the top of my head I can identify active Libdems including senior elected members and current candidates who have 'ethnic connections' with Cyprus (Greek), Jamaica, Portugual, Italy, India, Ukraine (two quite different people), Lebanon and (I think) Iran. And if you include me, Lithuania.

Secondly, we need to keep our Liberal perspectives in working on this campaign - that is, what is important at the deepest level is the individual not the label. I draw here on my experience as a deaf person. It is all to easy to get draw into the role of being 'the ambassador' for some group, in my case to be the person asked 'what do deaf people think?' (or even more tenuously 'what do disabled people think?' as if a pair of wonky ears gives me special insights to the life of someone with another of life's variations). That emphasis on an ambassadorial or representative role can be subtly exclusionary and we need to watch it.

Anyone coming forwards to be involved with our party work has a rich set of experiences and insights different to those of other people. Part of our work to Reflect Britain must be to celebrate and draw on that richness to reinforce our basic principles and goals.

I look forwards to working on this, whoever wins, but hopefully under Chris' leadership.

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