Author Archives: Zoe OConnell

Zoe O’Connell’s Federal Conference Committee report

Federal Conference Committee met at Liberal Democrat HQ on Saturday 14th November for a meeting that had, despite press reports suggesting it was called purely to discuss special conference, been in the diary for some time.

Many topics were discussed, as the November meeting is one of the few where members get to kick about ideas and discuss new developments rather than focusing on motion and amendment selection. Even after a relatively short time on the committee, these feel to me as if they are standing agenda items – many FCC members are keen to keep up work on better use of funds to improve conference accessibility and financial inclusion, investigate remote voting, use of new technology, timing of conferences and so on. FCC rarely decides anything concrete at this point, but members are often tasked to go and consult with other groups such as, for example, talking to DEG and LDDA about some aspect of accessibility or funding that has arisen.

I generally refrain from reporting discussions-in-progress on these topics, as I feel it right that groups representing members who have most to gain (or lose) from changes should get the first say. There are three areas that deserve special mention, however:

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Amendments selected for Conference agenda


The final meeting of Federal Conference Committee prior to us all heading to Bournemouth took place this Saturday, where amendments were debated and selected. One big difference from the motions selection meeting is that debate is more rapid, with 73 amendments, 9 emergency/topic motions, 12 questions to federal bodies and one appeal to deal with.

When discussing motions the ultimate decision is a yes or a no, but with amendments there is also the option of accepting it as a drafting change. This only applies to simple and uncontroversial changes, often clarifications, and means it does not need to be voted on and can simply be published in Conference Daily. Drafting amendments should not be substantial, so even a non-controversial amendment to update the motion based on events since the agenda was published still needs to be formally voted on.

Posted in Conference and News | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Federal Conference Committee report

Photo by Jon BallFederal Conference Committee (FCC) met on Saturday to decide which of the 52 motions submitted by members should be debated when we go to Bournemouth later this year. I’m sure many of you will be scrolling down to the end of this post to find out the good news, but for those who are new to the party or two FCC machinations, I shall quickly explain what FCC does and how it arrived at it’s decision.

The full FCC meets six times a year, three per conference. The first meeting in the cycle is general business, discussing topics such as future venues, stewarding and security needs, design of speakers cards, overall allocation of time between policy/speeches/Q&As, registration rates and so on. Before anyone asks, I should point out that the location of future conferences is a closely guarded secret until officially announced as we don’t want commercial companies block-booking accommodation in advance, as this puts the price up for ordinary members.

Posted in Conference and News | 60 Comments

Opinion: The Burchill controversy – a mixed blessing for the trans community

I have followed recent mainstream media events unfolding around the transgender community with a mixture of excitement, anxiety and sadness.

Excitement, because it is rare that trans issues get coverage that isn’t designed to portray us as perpetrators of some hideous evil. Even though the stories started with biased coverage in the Guardian about a doctor under investigation by the General Medical Council, it turned into something more positive when the #TransDocFail hashtag lead to LibDem Councillor Sarah Brown discussing the issue on BBC Radio. Even the continuation of bad reporting had a silver lining, when Julie Burchill’s

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Opinion: The Four Boxes – why the student occupation should be denounced

There is a rather American saying which runs along the lines of “We have four boxes with which to defend our freedom: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury
, and the ammo box. In that order”.

It becomes a good way of putting Wednesday’s violence in context, particularly for those that are trying to argue some similarity between the suffragette movement and student fees. That movement had no choice but to resort to violent occupation because the very thing its members were campaigning for was access to the ballot box.

But rather than the entire NUS executive distancing themselves …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 120 Comments

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