Category Archives: Conference

Liberal Democrat Voice at Conference

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Liberal Democrat Spring Conference agenda published

The Agenda has been published for the final conference before the General Election. Besides the main debate on the election manifesto, there are policy debates planned on

  • Mental Health
  • Five Green Laws
  • A better deal for Britain’s workforce
  • Freedom of expression in Europe and Beyond
  • Education Funding

and speeches from Danny Alexander, Jo Swinson, Vince Cable and Norman Lamb.

Nick Clegg as usual is doing a Q&A session with members as well as delivering the closing speech.

For more details including the fringe programme, training and ministerial Q&As see the agenda and directory here.


Mental health – an issue whose time came at Glasgow

Nick clegg and norman lamb at scottish action mental health photo by dave radcliffe from the liberal democrats flickr streamBased on my circumambulation of the Glasgow conference corridors, there were three highlights concerning mental health:

1. Oxford West and Abingdon conference representative, Matthew Sumption made his maiden speech in the pre-manifesto debate. He’s currently taking time out from university study. But, my goodness me, what a brave young man he is. He basically stood up and said that he is undergoing treatment for mental illness.

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Nick Clegg’s speech: 5 initial thoughts from me – and reaction from members and pundits

Nick Clegg has just delivered his seventh conference speech – you can read it here. Five quick thoughts from me:

1. It’s rare to remember party leaders’ speeches. However, I’ve a feeling this one will be remembered. Not necessarily stylistically — its rhetoric or his delivery — but for a government policy announcement: the emphasis on mental health-care which Nick made a centre-piece and which he has said will be on the front page of the party’s manifesto. Yes, there were plenty of positioning soundbites. But, more importantly, this announcement demonstrated, better than any finely crafted words, the point …

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BBC: “Nick Clegg not executed on stage until 1320″

That was the rather startling tweet from BBC South-East reporter Louise Stewart:

But it turned out to be a typo rather than a stay of execution:

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Nick Clegg on the “great liberal cause” to boost mental health care: “I want this smack bang on the front page of our next manifesto”

Nick clegg rally glasgow 2014Nick Clegg will announce a new Coalition Government policy in his leader’s speech to the Glasgow conference today – putting mental health provision on a par with physical health by announcing waiting time targets for people with mental health problems in England for the first time.

He’s expected to say later that “Mental health conditions are one of the last remaining taboos in our society, and yet they will affect one in four people” and to make three commitments:

  • “if you are waiting for talking therapies to help
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    Wednesday debates open thread: Nick Clegg’s speech

    Traditionally not many people turn up first thing on the last day – most are sleeping off Glee Club – but it would be a shame to miss the second emergency motion. After that the day builds up to the Leader’s speech,  with, unusually, no break for lunch and no lunchtime fringes. (I wonder how many of us will be finding ways of wasting our time in Glasgow because we had assumed it wouldn’t be over until 3.30pm at the earliest?)

    So for the last time this year, do add your comments about any debates and speeches in the auditorium.

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    Tuesday extras open thread: Ending in Glee

    This is almost your last chance to fit in some fringe experiences this year – there are no lunchtime fringes tomorrow, and only six early ones.

    Tuesday begins with Britain’s global economic recovery and ends with Glee Club – make what you will of that. In between you can update yourself on such diverse topics as residential care, criminal justice, rail, disability employment, welfare, immigration, tourism, food security, tax avoidance, garden cities and devo-max for Manchester.

    Tell us how your day is panning out.

    How to find out what is happening

    You can view or download the directory, which lists all the fringe …

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    Tuesday debates open thread: The big one – our pre-manifesto

    The main event of the day is the pre-Manifesto debate which will take up most of the morning, giving way only for football.

    The first emergency motion will take place this afternoon. Delegates have been voting on which two motions to take.  In between there is a chance to hear Norman Lamb, Edward Davey and Tim Farron, and to discuss our aging society.

    So what ‘s does the agenda look like?

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    Monday extras open thread: Breakfast, lunch and party

    Today is the day to do breakfast. Let us know if it was worth getting up early to attend one of the many breakfast fringe meetings.

    There is much going on throughout the rest of the day – have you noticed that fringe meetings have crept into the business day now?  Whether you want to hear about good parking management, drink driving, end-of-life priorities, aviation, experiments on animals, mental health, farming, trams, police constables or internships, you may want to end the evening celebrating the UK music industry at a party with Danny Alexander.

    Here’s a photo of Stephen Tall not paying attention …

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    Monday debates open thread: Flooding and equal marriage (unconnected, of course)

    There is a definite theme to this morning’s agenda – climate change, flooding and housing – while the afternoon highlights core Lib Dem values with a presentation on equal marriage followed by a debate on equalities. In between we hear from some of the heavyweights in the party (in the non-literal sense) and we throw questions at Nick Clegg.

    Please adds your comments on anything that is happening today in the main hall.

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    Disco as you’ve never seen it before….

    Disco 2014Last night, saw the Liberal Democrat Disco, organised at conference by Cambridge local party to raise funds for its general election campaign.

    It was a great night with a packed hall featuring the “Battle of the LibDem deejays”.

    Alistair Carmichael was cheered the loudest, thus winning the accolade of “deejay of the night”. His set included Lulu’s “Shout” and Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5″. He finished on a serious note, explaining that we had passed over midnight into the Sabbath. Coming from the islands of Scotland (where they are very serious about these things), Alistair felt there should be one song of religious observance. He therefore played “YMCA”.

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    Sunday extras open thread: From Christian humanism to live jazz

    Thanks to everyone who joined us for the LDV Awards evening yesterday. So what will be the fun events today?

    There is a very full programme on the fringe today – from promoting healthy lifestyles to the Gibraltar reception, from cycling to the future of the BBC, with several sessions on various environmental issues. The RSPCA is offering beer and curry, and there will be live jazz at the Azerbaijan reception.

    Do let us all know about any events you went to, or any worth dropping in for.

    How to find out what is happening

    You can view or download the directory, which …

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    Opinion: Lib Dems must commit to end the housing crisis within a generation

    Matilda HouseThis Monday in Glasgow, Lib Dem conference will debate motion F21 “Building the Affordable Homes We Need”. The Liberal Democrats have a fantastic opportunity to tackle the greatest social challenge of my generation, the housing crisis.

    The economic and social cost of this crisis is huge. England needs around 245,000 new homes a year just to meet demand. Yet we are building half the homes we need. The latest figures show that the average income needed to buy a home is £36,500, higher than the incomes of more than half of the households in the country.

    Add to that the largest baby boom since the 1960s, between 2001 and 2012, and we can see that this is a crisis that threatens to engulf the hopes and dreams of a generation, many of whom will never be able to afford a home they can truly call their own. But, for me, this crisis has always been about more than numbers.

    photo by: celesteh
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    Nick Clegg’s conference rally speech: “We may be the underdogs but we have the values, beliefs and resilience to win”

    “This is the fight of our lives” – that was the message from Nick Clegg at last night’s conference rally. You can watch it here:

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    Sunday debates open thread: From first aid to child abuse via crime and public services

    Thanks to everyone who contributed to yesterday’s open thread. Please add your reports, comments and recommendations on today’s business in the main hall below, sticking to things that are happening today.

    This will be the first full day of action in the splendid auditorium here at the SECC. Expect a full house for the debates on Welfare Reform and Public Services. In between, why not check out today’s Extras thread (fringes and everything else) which we will be posting at 10.30am?

    So what is happening today at Conference?

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    All in a day’s Lib Dem conference: hustings, fringes, OMOV and sex work

    It’s felt like a slow start to conference – I’m habituated to the Friday night rally and meaty policy debates starting at bleary o’clock on Saturday morning. But with the rally moved to Saturday night, conference itself wasn’t opened until this afternoon.

    20141004_100527_resizedHowever, that meant there was time this morning for the first official hustings of the Party Presidential contest, with Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne all present. In fact, there was possibly too much time – 90 minutes in a too-efficiently air-conditioned room at times dragged a little. No fault of the candidates themselves – they were all fluent and thoughtful – but they also all agreed on pretty much everything of substance. All pledged to be the independent voice of the membership and to speak truth unto leadership power.

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    Saturday extras open thread: Conference Rally and the LDV Awards

    We hope you’ve spotted the open thread on the action taking place in the main auditorium today. In comparison, this thread is for you to talk about fringe meetings, the exhibition and all the other things going on around the main business.

    The fringe kicks off today with a few events at lunchtime organised by CentreForum, Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary and Liberal Left. But the main events follow the Conference Rally which starts at 6.30pm in the main auditorium. After that you have a fairly limited choice of fringe meetings, probably because people tend to spend the early part of …

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    Saturday debates open thread: Welcome to Glasgow

    Whether you are physically in Glasgow or are following what is happening from home, this is your place to talk about the public face of the Conference – in other words, all the debates and speeches that are going on in the main auditorium.  Please use the comments below to add your reports on policy and constitutional debates or to draw readers’ attention to ones in the pipeline.

    We will be running a similar thread each day, so please confine your comments today to what is actually happening today. Tomorrow’s instalment will appear at 8.30am tomorrow morning.

    We will also be running a thread each day on fringes, so use that one for anything going on outside the main show.

    So what is happening today at Conference?

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    Lib Dem Voice at Conference: our events and what else we’re up to…

    As well as covering the Lib Dem conference, we’re hosting a handful of events in Glasgow. We hope readers who are there will want to come along and enjoy the following…

    LibDemVoice Awards 2014

    Saturday 4th October, from 10pm (Crowne Plaza, Castle 3)
    The nominations are in – check out the array of awards on offer here – voting will be decided by party members through our pre-conference survey. Put on your glad rags and enjoy the relaxed rivalry of our annual awards.

    “Who Wants to be Party President?”

    Sunday 5th October, 1-2pm (Crowne Plaza, Castle 2)
    Your chance to hear from and quiz the candidates in the contest to succeed Tim Farron as Party President. Chaired by former Party President Baroness Diana Maddock, all four candidates – Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne – will be there to make their pitch for your vote and to field your questions.

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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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      I think Willie Rennie will probably stay on in Scotland as Leader, no matter how bad the GE2015 results, until the Scottish Elections next year....
    • User Avatarsimon 3rd Mar - 12:12pm
      @ Malcolm "There’s simply no end to it that way." Having taken a cursory look at history as a result of your injunction I notice...
    • User AvatarDavid Wright 3rd Mar - 12:01pm
      There is ALREADY military intervention. Listen to the news reports regarding the current battle to retake Tikrit - which is being aided by both Iran...
    • User Avatartheakes 3rd Mar - 11:58am
      Good to see someone in Scotland is talking reality when it come to polling and seats etc. Like others I am amazed at the apparent...
    • User AvatarDavid Allen 3rd Mar - 11:58am
      Malcolm, Tilley said exactly what he said he said. It was slightly selective to say "may rise to 9 million" when a more complete account...
    • User AvatarJohnTilley 3rd Mar - 11:57am
      "...evil people who want to manipulate us into sending in troops...." Quite right, Jayne Mansfield.