OPINION: Leadership change: Spring clean or total makeover
Reporter: John Hardcastle
Date online: 12 May 2011
Well, I don't know Wera personally but I wish her well in her new role and hope that she possesses the skills, vision and forebearence to bring about a sea-change within the culture of the Rochdale Liberal Democrats.
Rochdale as a whole can only benefit from an end to sleaze and infighting within its political parties.
Politics by its nature is adversarial but that does not mean that it has to operate within the grubby, clandestine and despotic climate that has become almost the norm in the whole Rochdale political scene for decades.
Dave Hennigan, 'Big' Cyril, Liz Thirsk and Paul Rowen have gone and the party needs to move on. Trouble is, Wera is having to do the job with the same 'worn-out tools'; albeit much depleted in number. Still, she has drive, energy and arguably the charisma to lead and inspire.
The party badly needs new blood and to learn from the mistakes of yesteryear. Given the choice of available talent within the depleted and discredited party, Wera's ascendency into the leadership position was almost a matter of historical inevitability.
I cannot help but raise a smile at Dale Mulgrew's assertion that he was stepping down 'to spend more time with his family' which is a very familiar euphemism in politics used by those who manage to get out of town just ahead of the lynch mob.
What do I think Wera should do? Well, stop, look and listen would be a good place to start.
STOP heading blindly down the course that has led to the sitting MP being booted out, umpteen councillors resigning and the party getting a good and well-deserved kicking in the council elections.
LOOK around you, take stock of what the party has left and where it has some very obvious gaps that need to be filled. Perhaps call a halt to these ridiculous deselections that seem to be racially and personally motivated rather than being a genuine attempt to add depth, strength and character to the party machine.
LISTEN to people; particularly those who will not just tell you what they think you want to hear. Find out why, in what was once a Lib Dem town have so many people, including once-staunch activists become totally disaffected with the party.
Of course, with Nick Clegg at the helm, now is not a good time to be a Liberal Democrat. Not since the days of Jeremy Thorpe has possession of a party card been almost a badge of shame.
Good luck Wera, you'll need it. Oh, and carry on tweeting. Your tweets are funny, informative and insightful. They allow Twitter into the courts and Parliament. I'm sure Rochdale will catch up sometime; probably somewhere near the end of the century if it is left to our fuddy-duddy council!
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