Category Archives: Conference

Liberal Democrat Voice at Conference

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With what song would you open Liberal Democrat Conference?

The national convention of the US Democratic Party traditionally begins with Aaron Copeland’s famous, uplifting composition, ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’. If you don’t know the piece a recording of it is here.


What the media say about the York Conference, part 3

Nick Clegg’s speech at the end of conference was covered by some, but by no means all, media outlets – you can read the full text of the speech here, and view a brief extract here. The Independent highlights Lib Dem Conference: ‘Rivals are airbrushing our role in recovery’ warns Nick Clegg,:

In a policy-lite closing speech to the Lib Dem spring conference in York on Sunday, the Deputy Prime Minister signalled the start of the long campaign to next year’s general election by emphasising the party’s achievements in government.

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Five reasons why Liberal Democrats leave York in good spirits.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 08.06.08Liberal Democrats left York with spirits as bright as the sunshine which brought 17 degree warmth to the historic city.  Seriously. I was quite surprised about how genuinely upbeat people were. It’s not that they’d forgotten that we’re defending 12 European Parliament seats in 74 short days’ time. By the way, if you think that’s along time away, remember that 74 days ago was Boxing Day.  Everyone knows the scale of what we have to achieve by then and nobody is taking anything for granted.

Even the more, how shall I put this, hardened Awkward Squad (not an insult, definitely a badge that many of them would wear with pride) were saying things that could only be described as positive. Actual positive, not just lacking in complaints.

Why the good humour, then?

People love fighting a European Election about Europe

Liberal Democrats are by their nature internationalist. If it involves working together and building global alliances to make the whole world better, we’re happy. And that, to be honest, is what the European Union is all about. It’s about making sure that our young men don’t have to meet up somewhere on the continent and kill each other every few decades. If you look at the last couple of thousand years, that’s pretty huge. Yes, there are lots of other benefits that have a real practical relevance to people’s lives, but peace and stability across 350 million is the Big One.

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Nick Clegg’s speech to the Lib Dem spring conference in full

Clegg SpeechNick Clegg is just about to begin his speech to bring to a close the Lib Dems’ Spring Conference in York. You can read the full text below.

The speech is most striking for its aim to reclaim patriotism. “I love Britain” is the refrain of its opening section (much of which reads a lot like the popular Twitter account, @SoVeryBritish – eg, “I love that we insist on queuing when we go abroad, even when the locals don’t.”), with Nick listing the things that make him proud to …

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Danny Alexander’s speech to Lib Dem conference. (AKA: we need to move beyond lists of achievements.)

If you missed it yesterday, you can catch up on Danny Alexander’s speech to the Lib Dem spring conference below. Listening to it, and trying to gauge the reaction of the audience of fellow Lib Dems, a couple of things struck me.

First, Danny has definitely improved as a public speaker. After almost four years in the cabinet as chief secretary to the treasury, he’s much more confident. Perhaps his best line yesterday was when he fended off Tory attempts to steal the credit for the Lib Dems’ tax-cuts for low-earners by saying, “There’s a big difference between doing something because you have to and doing something because you want to. They had to because we wanted to.”

Secondly, that improvement in Danny’s speaking only goes so far. Too much of the speech sounded like read-out versions of the e-mailed lists of Lib Dem achievements party members regularly receive. That’s fine in an email and we all need to have some handy facts to back up our doorstep conversations. But a speech needs also to tell a story, to engage. Can’t say Danny’s did it for me. Am I being too harsh? Well, judge for yourselves below…

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Six points I took from Nick Clegg’s Lib Dem conference Q&A

Here are six points that struck me listening to Nick Clegg’s Q&A at the Lib Dem conference today (actually, a few more did, but I haven’t time to cover them all…)

Nick Clegg is more comfortable than his party with positioning the Lib Dems in the centre of British politics

The party’s slogan, ‘Stronger economy, fairer society’, captures Nick Clegg’s message: the Lib Dems can civilise the Tories’ ruthlessness, and we can rein-in Labour’s spending excesses. I’ve written many times before that I think this is the only strategy available to the party given we won’t form the next government on our …

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What the media say about the York conference, part 1

ITV reports Lib Dems open conference with ‘attack’ over Europe, where you can also watch a video round-up.

The International Business Times has a more sombre assessment: Cable and Clegg Attack Tories and Ukip:

The rally comes against a bleak background for the party as polls and by-elections show they are running fourth and there is the real possibility they will be humiliated in May’s European elections, thus the focus on the issue in York.

Yet delegates are still in an upbeat mood. The majority have come to terms with the realities of coalition and the fact that


How to follow what is happening at Spring Conference #LDconf

If you are not in York for the Lib Dem Spring Conference, you can follow what is going on in various ways.

For as-it-happens coverage follow the tweets on #LDconf.

Sadly, although the BBC broadcasts the main Autumn conference each year, it does not cover the Spring one – largely because the other parties do not hold similar events. Instead you can follow the live blog on the party website.

For an independent view, the York Press is making the most of having the conference on its doorstep and is also live blogging.

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Linking peace issues with seekers of sanctuary

ld4sos-bannerThe National Friends Peace Board celebrated its 100 years anniversary last year at the Friends Meeting House in York.  They had a walk, linking two issues, between Richmond Castle where the Friends had stood up for the treatment of Conscientious Objectors during the First World War, to more modern matters, the role of the US base at Menwith Hill in spreading militarism around the world.  As they say on their website, “One thing we know from having delved into our history, and of course from our own lives and

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Reform of the Planning System

As Co-Chair of the DCLG Parliamentary Policy Committee I am pleased that Motion F5 ‘Reform of Planning’ will be before Conference on Saturday 8th March. The members of our committee are very clear that a pledge for 300,000 homes per year to be built (Federal Conference motion September 2012) requires planning permission for 300,000 homes per year!

Do Liberal Democrats have the political will to address our housing crisis?  Do we only have that will as long as the homes are not in our own backyards?  We present our motion for debate with the belief that the answer to the first question …

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The Orange Bookers v the Cameroons: Liberal Reform/ERS event at spring conference

This Saturday, March 8th, at spring conference, Liberal Reform and the Electoral Reform Society will be hosting an event in the Bootham Room of the Hilton York on the topic of Which Party for Liberals? Conservative or Liberal Democrats?

I know already that, right from the title, there will be some in the party who will be upset. “Why limit the choice outside of the Lib Dems to just the Tories?”, I can imagine some will ask. The binary nature of the debate was inspired by Nick Boles’ talk a few months ago about the need for a “National Liberal” party, one …

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Spring 2014 Conference Agenda now online

The Conference Agenda has been finalised and is now available online.

The agenda features a variety of debates including one on a Digital Bill of Rights on Making Migration Work for Britain.

There will also be speeches by Jenny Willott MP and Danny Alexander MP. Nick Clegg will do a Leader’s Q&A on Saturday 8 March at 15:05 and you can submit concise questions (up to 25 words) on any topic up until 12:40 on 8 March at the Speakers’ Table in the auditorium or by email ([email protected]) before 17:00 on Thursday 6 March.

Every motion in the agenda is open to …

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What could you do with £32?

In these straitened times, we are sure that you have better things to do with £32 than pay it needlessly to the party’s Conference registration Department. You could of course still give it to the party, but that’s by the by.

It could also pay for a meal out, or a trip to the sales, or 3 or 4 books, 4 one day travelcards in London and a coffee when you get there. Or a round of drinks in the Conference bar…

Today is the last day when members can register for Liberal Democrat Spring Conference at the lower rate. Don’t miss …

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Opinion: Attending Lib Dem Conference on a Shoestring

In an ideal democratic world, all Lib Dem members should be able to attend Lib Dem conference and have equal opportunity to participate in the running and the policies of the party without personal finance being a hindrance.

In reality of course conferences are expensive, and it is mostly the well-off members of the party who attend. For that reason it is likely that conference attendees are not representative of the party as a whole.

We do not live in an ideal world for a very simple reason; the national party has limited funds and lots of spending commitments some of which …


Why you need to register for Liberal Democrat Spring conference NOW

I’ve just thought to myself that I’d just take 5 minutes to register for Liberal Democrat Spring conference in York, which takes place from 7-9 March. Every time I’ve thought that in the past couple of months since registration opened, I’ve never done anything about it, thinking that it was fine,  I had till 31st December to get the cheap rate, don’t need to do it now. By some minor miracle, while procrastinating from something else, I got as far as the Conference registration page this morning.

Then, of course, I couldn’t remember my user name. I tried all the …

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Only 2 days left to have your say on Spring Conference

Last Friday, James Gurling asked for party members’ views on the future of Spring Conference. These have to be submitted by Friday 29th November, so this is a reminder to make sure you have your say before then. Janes’  article is reproduced in full below:

As part of the budget setting process, earlier this year, the Federal Executive were asked to look at how the Party runs its Spring Conference and the costs it incurs. With pressures on Party finances as they are, the challenge was therefore to look at how to make spring conference, at worst, a ‘break-even’ event.


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The future of Lib Dem Spring conference – how to have your say by 29th November

As part of the budget setting process, earlier this year, the Federal Executive were asked to look at how the Party runs its Spring Conference and the costs it incurs. With pressures on Party finances as they are, the challenge was therefore to look at how to make spring conference, at worst, a ‘break-even’ event.

From the start, FE recognised that answering this challenge involved potentially significant changes to Spring Conference, and produced a paper which looks at three broad options – continuing as we do with a two day spring conference (and seeking to make cost …

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Lib Dem Conference app – your feedback please

Thanks to all of you who came to Federal Conference in Glasgow – I hope you enjoyed it!

We made many changes to the Conference App for Autumn Conference 2013 and we’d really like your feedback. We strive to improve the App each Conference so it would be much appreciated if you could spare a few minutes to give us your thoughts by filling in our survey here.

If you have any further questions on the App please email [email protected]


The Lib Dem Voice Awards – re-living the highs and the highlights…

A week ago today, the all-new, revamped Lib Dem Voice Awards hit Glasgow. For those who were there, and those who couldn’t make it, here’s what happened…

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Nick Clegg’s speech: my first impressions

This was Nick’s sixth speech to a Lib Dem autumn conference, and was his most relaxed and assured performance to date. As with the best of his Letters from the Leader, it worked because he took us behind the scenes of government – such as “shell-shocked civil servant promising me we’d get on with things shortly – but first he had to get us some desks”.

The list of achievements in government was despatched pretty quickly: tax-cuts for the low-paid, the Pupil Premium, new apprenticeships social care reforms, railway investment, same-sex marriage, and so on. Past speeches have sometimes …

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Opinion: Conference – elitist drinking club or democratic decision-making?

BeerI find myself reflecting on Chief Whip Alistair Charmichael’s quip suggesting that the real business of Conference is done, carousing late into the night, in the bars and hotels of Glasgow.

In the mean time I have been standing on the town hall steps, speaking with constituents and pondering how such an aspiring egalitarian Party concentrates power and decision making into two exclusive weeks each year that leave the majority of the Party disempowered and without any voice.  During the other 50 weeks of the year we have a plethora of committees, sub-committees, special interest groups, local, federal and membership involvement to the nth degree.  All this ends as soon as soon as Conference begins.

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Opinion: Mr Cameron call a general election – we relish the challenge

I am pretty sure that everyone can remember where they were at on 7 May 2010. I, for one, was being staggered as I caught up with the results overnight that the Liberal Democrats had polled a staggering six million votes, the highest number of votes since the days of the Alliance. I was running at more or less 24% of the national vote and winning seats such as Redcar, Burnley and Bradford East and coming oh so close in seats such as Ashfield, Swansea West, Derby North. At the same time as that was happening, Nick Clegg came to …

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Nick Clegg’s speech to Lib Dem conference 2013

nick clegg by paul walterNick’s just mounted the platform in Glasgow – here’s what he’s expected to say over the next 40 minutes or so…

Three years ago – nearly three and a half – I walked into the Cabinet Office for my first day as Deputy Prime Minister.

Picture it: history in the making as a Liberal Democrat leader entered, finally, into the corridors of power, preparing to unshackle Britain after years of Labour and Conservative rule. Only to arrive and find an empty room and one shell-shocked civil servant promising

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The Independent View: Will competition and choice open up the banking sector for the better?

Credits CardsIn light of the launch of this week’s Current Account Switching Scheme, the Liberal Democrat conference was well timed to ask at a fringe meeting: “Will competition and choice open up the banking sector?”

In short, the scheme guarantees that anyone who wishes to move their current bank account to another institution will be able to do so hassle-free in seven working days. No burden is placed on the customer and it is all underpinned by a seven-day guarantee. This is real progress from the previous 30-day process and importantly the lack of a guarantee that often saw customers doing the legwork themselves. I hope to see positive effects of the changes in the months to come.

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LDVideo: Stephen Tall reviews the Lib Dem year for BBC’s Daily Politics

Stephen Tall reviews the Lib Dem year – it’s ups and its down – for the BBC’s Daily Politics, recalling some of the questions on Nick’s weekly LBC radio phone-in, Call Clegg…

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Danny Alexander: “Difficult decisions lie ahead: people can trust the Liberal Democrats to make them”

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterSpeaking at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Glasgow on Tuesday, Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander highlighted four key points:

    1) the economy is improving, and in no small measure that’s down to the Lib Dems’ commitment to provide strong government within a coalition government;

    2) that Labour “derailed the economy” once and will do so again, given the chance;

    3) that the Tories’ obsession with hire-and-fire and anti-Europeanism put the recovery at risk;

    4) that Lib Dems are making a real difference – taking the low-paid

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Conference Preview: Wednesday 18 September

Conference closes exactly one year away from the Scottish independence Referendum. To mark the occasion, Secretary of State for Scotland will develop the themes of identity he’s been talking about recently. He’ll say:

I am a Borderer and a Scot.

I’m proud of those things.

But as a twenty first century Scot, I have another layer to my identity.

I am British and I’m proud of that, too.

So are most Scots.

The vast majority of people I speak to – friends, constituents, people in communities the length and breadth of Scotland – are at ease with their identities.

Glaswegians, Borderers, highlanders, Fifers, islanders.

Across the country, people

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Clegg: “Every primary school pupil should be able to sit down to a hot, healthy lunch with their classmates every day”

school childrenNick Clegg’s speech to the Lib Dem conference on Wednesday will contain one new, significant policy announcement: all pupils at infant schools in England are to get free school lunches from next September.

In addition, disadvantaged students at sixth form colleges and further education colleges in England will also be eligible for free school meals also from next September. Money is also being provided for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but as education is a devolved issue, it will be up to those running schools there to decide whether …

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Conference agrees reduced nuclear deterrent by 322 votes to 228

This morning’s debate on defence was heavily dominated by just one subject – whether or not Britain should continue to have a nuclear deterrent.

An amendment rejecting any renewal of Trident, which had no big name backers, came within 100 votes of defeating Danny Alexander’s motion. It was quite an achievement for the amendment’s proposer, George Potter, to get it at least to a counted vote.

The speech of the debate came from Glasgow’s Paul Coleshill who likened replacing Trident to a middle aged man buying a sports car as a mid life crisis – but one he could only use on …

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Conference comment: What the papers say (4)

Clegg VotingTHAT email, the one giving a briefing to MPs on how to address the media, was always going to delight the political gossips. And so it proved. Shorn of the drama of a full out Farron versus Clegg versus Cable bloodbath, the quidnuncs in the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and at leapt on the email. The New Statesmen notes that MPs are told not to refer to the “bedroom tax”, it is a “spare room subsidy.” Regardless, as the Guardian and Inside Housing report, the conference condemned the bedroom tax for discriminating against the most vulnerable in society.

Also posted in News | Tagged | 6 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohnTilley 18th Sep - 2:34am
    Rebecca Thank you again for a full and considered response. On independence for Scotland, I see it in terms of self determination. In historical terms,...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 18th Sep - 1:28am
    David Evans You are absoutely right to highlight the facts that Clegg (and the cul de sac of Orange Bookery ) was already a vote...
  • User AvatarMark Argent 18th Sep - 1:28am
    I can see this re-opening the question of regional government. The Labour provision of regional assemblies in England seemed to enable this well, but didn't...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 18th Sep - 1:15am
    The majority of Scots are sensible. The sensible thing is to do everything you can to get more power before the vote, i.e. to make...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 18th Sep - 1:05am
    John Barrett "...Regardless of the result, from tomorrow the Labour and Conservative parties will turn their guns to point towards Liberal Democrats defending seats in...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 18th Sep - 12:57am
    Sesenco mainly older urban Labour voters drawn back to “NO” by Gordon Brown’s appeal to working-class solidarity Did Gordon Brown actually make an " appeal...