Challenger for Lib Dem presidency vows to revive party

Daisy Cooper pledges to restore the party's grassroots 'forgotten army'

POLITICAL EDITOR

A young Liberal Democrat activist launched her campaign last night to become president of the party and overhaul its image as it struggles to move on from the Lord Rennard affair.

Daisy Cooper, 32, a campaigner and former parliamentary candidate, would become the second most powerful person in the Lib Dems if she won the contest to succeed Tim Farron in November.

Ms Cooper said she wanted to restore the confidence of the party's "forgotten army" of grassroots activists after nearly five years of the Lib Dems in the coalition. Her candidacy is a much-needed boost to Nick Clegg's attempts to show that the party represents Britain, including trying to increase the number of female MPs.

This suffered a setback last week when Lib Dems in the relatively safe seat of Portsmouth South chose Gerald Vernon-Jackson as their candidate to succeed Mike Hancock rather than Tamora Langley.

Mr Farron steps down at the end of this year and is expected to stand in the next leadership contest.

Lib Dem president Tim Farron Lib Dem president Tim Farron Ms Cooper, a member of the Lib Dem federal executive and former parliamentary candidate for Suffolk Coastal, said yesterday: "I have huge ambitions for our party. I'm 32 and I'm prepared to spend the next 50 years of my life fighting for our political beliefs. The next few months will be critical but they also present an unrivalled opportunity for us to lay the foundations for a Liberal revival. Our councillors and grassroots campaigners are the forgotten army on which our future depends – in this party, our place is front and centre." Ms Cooper said that as president she would make three pledges: to focus on winning, inspire donors to increase support, and "rebuild and relaunch".

She added: "We must use May 2015 as an opportunity for every member to experience winning, gain confidence to campaign on our messages, and develop their campaign skills. Every member counts. That's how I believe we'll motivate members to go out and win. After May, we must launch an ambitious national scheme to recruit members in such numbers that we will within 20 years wipe out all 'black holes', be as diverse as the UK, and rebuild our local government base and membership from community level up."

Meanwhile, Mr Clegg will launch his party's 80-page "pre-manifesto" on Wednesday, setting out the policies forming the backbone of the 2015 general election platform. The party said it would be a "manifesto for the next generation" and will be "spreading opportunity through education", trebling the early years pupil premium to £1,000 per child and guaranteeing a core curriculum taught by qualified teachers – a key difference from the Tories.

There will also be a pledge to "finish the job of eliminating the deficit but to do so fairly, by continuing to cut taxes for working people and focusing on building infrastructure, investing in green industry and boosting regional growth".

Mr Clegg will state: "This is a manifesto about the future: your future, your children's future and Britain's future. We need to move from rescue to renewal. We need to move from austerity to ambition. We need to think boldly and restore a sense of national optimism."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers personalise...

Recruitment Genius: Key Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A really exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Multi Trade Operative

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An established, family owned de...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exciting position has risen for a Customer ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project