Professional Leadership:

Too often, leadership these days is about style, rather than vision and substance. I believe in setting goals and objectives; shaping events not being shaped by them; taking responsibility and discharging it; being both candid and confident; neither dictatorial nor prescriptive but consultative and committed.

As leader of the Liberal Democrats, I want to instill a strong sense of professionalism in all that we do, in the way we develop policy, in the way we project ourselves in the media, in the way we campaign, in the way we manage our internal organisation, and in the way we represent our constituents.

Our party has grown rapidly in recent years. As we grow, we must learn to adapt the way we do things to match our increased political stature. We must hold on to our existing democratic processes that allow us to discuss and decide our views and policies. But we must do so with self discipline and professionalism because we are under ever greater scrutiny than before.

This means recognising that people join political parties because they are inspired by ideas and a desire to change the world they see around them. Too often, members find that they are only asked to deliver leaflets or raise money. They have no chance to discuss the principles and policies that encouraged them to join in the first place. We need to involve our members at every level in political dialogue, not least by using the latest information technologies available to us.

I want us to deploy new campaign techniques, learning from best practice both at home and abroad. I want us to develop the means to deal with the increasing challenges of a twenty-four hour media environment. I want us to ensure that we are consistent in what we say as a party, in Town Halls, in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Brussels. I want us to identify and nurture all the available talent in the party, especially amongst young activists and Parliamentarians. The future of the party depends on it. And I want our candidates in all elections to reflect the society we live in – by significantly increasing the number of women and members of ethnic minorities whom we elect to Councils and Parliaments. I will use the full force and authority of my leadership to ensure that talented women and talented people from ethnic minorities have a genuine chance to fight the best seats at every election

I have set out my vision of Liberal Democracy. It is to empower people and communities, not the state; to promote social mobility and nurture the aspirations of all individuals; to shape events in the wider world; to cherish our shared environment; to defend the cause of civil and individual liberties, and to promote the reform of Britainís political system.

Being the leader of a political party is not a job. It is a vocation. I will seek to lead our party with credibility, authority and unity. To be the leader of the Liberal Democrats is to be the trustee of a great party, with much to be proud of – but with its best achievements still ahead. I relish that challenge.