I believe that the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Conference Committee performs a unique role amongst the main political parties in the UK. As a Committee elected from amongst its members, it plans and delivers the Liberal Democrat Conference, and selects motions and amendments for debate and decision by members of the party at conference.
It is this dual function (the utterly practical alongside the vital policy debates) that makes our Conference stand out from the other party conferences which are becoming more and more sterile showcases for senior people. There are three main sub-committees: GPSC (covering the practical and financial) CCG (looking at task and finish projects not related to the current conference) and the Access group (constantly reviewing access to every conference).
This is not a Committee for the faint-hearted: we meet about twelve times a year (including every day at Conference), all members contribute to both the practical and policy discussions, and we are on duty throughout Conference.
The Committee takes the comments of representatives attending Conference very seriously, and much of the time outside Conference is spent seeing how we can improve it. We have to plan years ahead – venues often have to be booked three or more years ahead – and our dedicated Conference staff team really do work all the year round to deliver our Spring and Autumn Conferences.
Considering Policy motions sounds fun, but requires dedication and an eye for detail: we had over 130 pages of motions to consider for this September in Brighton, and then a slightly smaller pack of emergency motions and amendments just before Conference. We are bound by Conference Standing Orders, and also have far more motions submitted than we could ever take, so decisions are really tough. But behind it all, FCC wants to provide a balanced agenda for representatives, and one which will also engender a good and real debate. We also have to agree the non-debate items (speeches, presentations and the new ministerial surgeries held out of the main auditorium).
Conference itself is always busy for members of FCC: we are your elected representatives, we chair and aide debates, and also act as information points for anyone attending. We get to learn Standing Orders well, and have to remain impartial when giving advice.
So, if the above appeals to you, then do consider standing. Be warned, it’s always popular, and the competition is hot, but that’s because it is one of the most rewarding elected posts in the party.
Nomination papers for standing for FCC and the other Federal Committees can be obtained from either the Information Desk at the Brighton Conference Centre during Conference, or the Returning Officer ([email protected]).
The closing date for receipt of nominations is midday, 3 October & the same deadline for submitting your artwork for the election address.
* Baroness Sal Brinton is a working Lib Dem peer, and was the candidate for Watford at the 2010 and 2005 General Elections. She is Vice Chair of the Liberal Democrats' Federal Conference Committee.