Author Archives: Mark Valladares

Let the trumpets sound, the banners fly, Federal International Relations Committee has met…

The Federal International Relations Committee held its inaugural meeting in central London on 28 January which, for those of us living beyond the M25, meant a rather early start, albeit for a good cause. And we had much to do, not all of it entirely political.

For, with any new body comes a panoply of administration which, although rather dull, is essential to making sure that, when decisions are taken, they are valid. We had, fortunately, elected a Chair in advance, as only one of the directly elected members, Robert Woodthorpe Browne, applied for the post. Standing Orders have been adopted, a secretary elected, and a communications plan initiated.

The bureaucracy dealt with, the Committee looked at forthcoming business. Liberal International is currently drafting a new manifesto, timed for release during its Congress in Andorra in mid-May. 2017 sees the Liberal International reach its seventieth birthday, and the new document is intended to be a reboot of the original “Oxford Manifesto”, written in the shadow of World War 2, which espoused a liberal platform for the rebuilding of peace and democracy after such a calamity. But time moves on, and global liberalism faces new challenges. I’ll report more on this in the coming weeks.

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 3 Comments

Guy Verhofstadt talks Brexit and beyond…

A packed lecture theatre in St James’s Square, London, was the setting for this year’s Isaiah Berlin Lecture, hosted by Chatham House and introduced by Liberal International President, Dr Juli Minoves. Tickets had been swallowed up within three hours of becoming available in anticipation of a typically robust contribution from the recently appointed negotiator for the European Parliament, and Guy Verhofstadt didn’t disappoint.

Against a backdrop of unprecedented threats to the stability of the European Union, he set out his vision for the future of the political order in Europe.

He believes that Europe …

Posted in News | 5 Comments

ALDE Congress preview: day 3 – it’s make your mind up time…

The final day of Congress is when the decisions get taken – electing Bureau members, determining policy, agreeing statute changes. Everything builds up to a frenzy of voting, as delegates are asked to vote for or against as many as twenty-five resolutions in one rather manic one hour session.

This is only possible because the big arguments take place in working group sessions on day 2, where compromises are reached and recommendations made to the plenary session the next day. For Liberal Democrats, this is a source of some wonderment, especially for those who have been to too many Federal Conferences. …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged | 2 Comments

ALDE Party Congress preview : Day 2 – an energised delegation hits the dance floor…

Another snowy dawn in Warsaw, made rather brighter by news from home, and whilst some of our delegation are paying the price for staying up to wait for the result from Richmond Park, there’s a definite spring in our step.

And so, what do we have to look forward to today?

It’s all about policy, with working groups looking at a range of resolutions, as well as the proposed reforms to the Party statutes (think constitutional amendments on steroids). Our delegation will be active participants, discussing Brexit, aspects of European democracy, economics, environmental issues and civil liberties.

In terms of the big, set-piece stuff, Congress is formally launched with speeches from the likes of Cecilia Malmström and Margrethe Vestager, two of the Liberal Commissioners, Guy Verhofstadt.

There is also a plenary debate on “Brexit and the Politics of Fear”, which includes our Willie Rennie, which may be slightly different in tone after last night’s success.

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ALDE Bureau elections: the runners and riders

alde-congress-2016Yes, it’s election time again, as the ALDE Party elects different positions in alternate years, the Presidency and some Vice-Presidents in odd-numbered years, the Treasurer and a few more Vice-Presidents in even-numbered years.

This year, there is no British interest, with Ros Scott having been safely elected as a Vice-President last year. As for the Treasurer, it looks as though there will be a intra-Slovene handover, with outgoing Treasurer, Roman Jakič, expected to be replaced by the sole candidate, Gašper Koprivsek from SMC (Modern Centre Party).

There are five candidates for three Vice-Presidential slots;

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ALDE Party Congress preview – day 1: a gentle warm-up before the drama commences

alde-congress-2016Welcome to Warsaw, where the cranes are busy bringing new skyscrapers to the city’s skyscape (don’t try to say that quickly…), and a thousand liberals from across Europe are meeting over the next three days.

To some extent, the event is dominated by Brexit – our sister parties are keen to adopt a common position on a European negotiating position, whilst simultaneously showing their support for pro-European forces in the United Kingdom (that would appear, given the Labour Party’s dithering on the subject, to be us). The welcome so far appears to be …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged and | 1 Comment

ALDE Party Council preview – rewriting the rules, but not in triplicate…

Yes, it’s that time once again, when liberals gather from across Europe to renew old acquaintances, make policy and debate the burning issues of the day. Hang on, wrong introduction, that’s the one I meant to write for the Congress taking place alongside it.

It is fair to say that the Council meeting isn’t as exciting, focussing as it does on rule changes and membership applications.

First, the rule changes. There have been some concerns expressed that the way that individual parties are represented in the ALDE Party is not as fair as it might be. Accordingly, a small group of crack diplomats has been assigned the task of coming up with a new system. Needless to say, it combines a complexity that makes it hard to explain with a lack of salience to our readers that makes trying to do so fairly futile. I’ll give you a summary though…

The new system rewards successful parties and national influence, whilst rebalancing the membership dues system to ease the burden on small parties from small countries, something that, as a member of the Financial Advisory Committee, I had attempted to do a few years ago. Obviously, I support that. Whether or not the new allocations of Council and Congress delegates achieves the stated aim is another matter.

Posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged | 1 Comment
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