One of the quite reasonable limitations on federal party staff is that we are not allowed to publicly endorse candidates in internal party elections.
This can be frustrating. I had a firm preference in each of the leadership elections that took place during the ten years I worked for the Campaigns Department but had to be careful not to say anything publicly about it.
But now I'm free, and just as the party's Presidential election has kicked off.
I am firmly of the view that Ros Scott is the best person to be our new President.
1 Ros has set out a very clear view of how she sees the role of President and I think she has got it broadly right. Under our constitution the President should play an important role: representing the views and mood of the party to the leadership, chairing the Federal Executive and getting out and about supporting and enthusing the troops. I think Ros understands this and will be better able to fulfil all aspects of the role and balance them well.
2 Ros has very broad experience at many levels in the party and outside it. In particular she is a genuine listener and has a good understanding of our local government base. I beleive it is more important than ever that this and other parts of the party are represented effectively.
3 Ros has put more thought and effort into preparing for the campaign and working out her ideas.
4 Ros is not an MP. On its own this wouldn't necessarily swing my vote, but along with the other factors it is important. I believe we will be better served by someone outside the commons parliamentary party having the role than someone inside. Groupthink is a very powerful force and my preference is to have a President who is less likely to affected by the groupthink that sometimes affects the thinking of our parliamentary party and the leadership.
Those are my main reasons for supporting Ros.
Well I have a lot of time for Lembit. I've known him since my first NUS Conference (many years ago!) where he was sitting as an Independent member of the NUS NEC. He was already popular and an excellent and enjoyable speaker.
He has worked solidly hard for the party since he joined it 20 years ago and is one of the few MPs who has taken membership activity seriously in that time.
He also understands the need for the party to connect with ordinary people.
I do not subscribe to the view that all publicity is good publicity and think there is a significant risk that if Lembit were to become President there might be a lot of publicity generated but it would be about him and his personal life and would not do anything to promote the party's values or policies.
I also think that the most important role of the new President will be as a refelctor of the views of members to the leadership. In my experience Lembit would be less good than Ros in this crucial role.
Finally Lembit does have many strengths and is a positive force for the party, but we will get those benefits whether or not he is President.
So I'm 4 Ros, but won't be hugely upset if Lembit wins.