Category Archives: Conference

Liberal Democrat Voice at Conference

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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:

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Andrew Wiseman writes…Changes to Spring Conference registration

We are trying something new at this year’s Spring Conference. The Autumn Conference saw a record-breaking members’ attendance with more first time conference attendees than ever before and we are keen for even more members to come to conference and actively engage with the Party’s policy making process.

The Spring Conference in York will be the first conference under One Member One Vote and in light of this we reviewed, amongst other things, the current registration system. At our short weekend Spring Conference we will now only be offering a full Member’s registration option so that everyone attending has the right to speak, vote and receive conference papers. This means that we will no longer be offering day visitor passes at Spring Conference.

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Tim Farron and a wonderful song

This excerpt is from Tim Farron’s main speech to the Bournemouth conference:

Since May, the Government has threatened the human rights act, demonised refugees, penalised working families, abandoned green energy. You know, if ever you doubted the effectiveness of the Liberal Democrats in Government just look at what’s happening without us. In the words of Joni Mitchell

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone “

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15 years on – Lib Dems up the ante on the Human Rights Act

Parliament Acts by -JvL- FLickr CCLTim Farron tweeted on Friday:

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Video: Nick Clegg’s speech to conference

We previously carried the full text of Nick Clegg’s speech to the Bournemouth conference. Here below is the video of the speech, courtesy of the party’s conference YouTube channel.

I wasn’t in the hall for the speech.

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VIDEO: The three minutes of Tim’s speech where he speaks with raw rage about refugees

People have been requesting this clip. Click below for the three minutes of Tim’s conference speech when he spoke about refugees. The video starts when the passage starts. The passage ends at 31’32 with a standing ovation and then the video continues with the rest of the speech if you want to see it.

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Tim’s speech – Did you have to be in the hall to get it?

Yesterday I had to work so I couldn’t be at Bournemouth to watch Tim’s speech.

So, through the miracles of the smartphone, the BBC and the car auxiliary connection point, I listened to Tim’s speech on the way to work this morning.

I therefore had a chance to test how the speech came over via audio only on the M4 in Berkshire. Were all these rave reviews coming from people in the hall yesterday mere hype? The result of mass hysteria which would not catch on outside the immediacy of the hall?

Well, no.

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LDVideo: Tim Farron’s first leaders’ speech

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Farron rips up the rules on leaders’ speeches

It is no surprise that Tim Farron can make a decent speech. It’s what he does. Today, though, he took the tried and tested formula for leaders’ speeches. You know the Rules, where they slag off the other parties, they carefully talk about a few issues considered to be the key interests of the electorate, utter a few platitudes, tell a few jokes and end on a high note.

It’s all a bit contrived sometimes, way too polished,  and leaves the listener wanting a bit of genuine discourse and emotion.

Not today. Liberal Democrats are not known for their deference to their leader. It’s impossible to imagine any of us being as devoted to our leader as SNP activists are to Nicola Sturgeon.  We don’t always do their bidding and we usually answer back if they do something we don’t like. We are definitely not the sort of people who give people massive standing ovations in the middle of their speeches like we did this afternoon because he spoke so passionately, as we would, for the refugees whose plight is pretty much dismissed by the Government. He was angry and he showed it and he took us with him.

And what we’ve had from David Cameron is a careful calibration of what it will take to manage that story, the minimum effort for the maximum headlines.

And a policy which will not directly help a single one of the hundreds of thousands currently on the move across Europe.

It’s pitiful and embarrassing and makes me so angry.

Because I am proud to be British and I am proud of Britain’s values, so when Mr Cameron turns his back on the needy and turns his back on our neighbours.

I want the world to know, he does not speak for me, he does not speak for us, he does not speak for Britain.

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IN FULL: Tim Farron’s leader speech to conference today

When I was growing up my school didn’t have a sixth form. I guess that’s because most of us didn’t do A levels. So I went to a separate sixth form college – Runshaw in Leyland – and, in my first week, I joined the Liberal Party.

I also joined a band.

I’m assuming you may have seen the photos.

The only good thing I can say is that because the photos are pre-digital they are so low resolution that you can’t make out the eye-liner.

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“Wow, that was the best leader’s speech I’ve heard in just under 50 Lib Dem conferences”

So tweeted Dr Mark Pack, formerly of this parish:

Here’s some other reaction:

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Conference debates open thread: Wednesday 23rd September

Whether you are physically in Bournemouth 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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If you missed any bits of conference…how to catch up on YouTube

Lib Dem YouTube channelSssshhh! Don’t tell anyone. This is a secret and we need to keep it that way.

If you want to watch any bits of conference in “catch up mode”, head over to the party’s YouTube channel here.

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The funniest moment of Conference so far…

Or at least, the funniest that didn’t involve pig jokes..

The BBC’s Daily Politics team tried to get Alistair Carmichael to choose between David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn. Not a wise move…

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Sal Brinton’s Presidential address to Conference

Here is the text of Sal Brinton’s Presidential address to Conference. She talked about the threat to our democracy from the Tories’ massive spending on election campaigning and their plans for boundary changes. She talked about getting the party in the right shape for that fightback, to “give our country a democracy that works for all’. Here’s her speech in full:


The last couple of years have shown us that traditional assumptions about politics are useless.

Our world is being turned upside down, and,  unpredictable even to the pundits.

So much so that Lloyd George’s famous comment “The world is becoming like a lunatic asylum run by the lunatics”. That was over 110 years ago – perhaps some things never change!

We faced our hardest results in decades on 7 May, made much harder in recent weeks by watching  David Cameron and the Tories undoing many of the things that we achieved in Government.

A large number of people – not just Lib Dems – have said to me that they now understand what we did in Parliament as the Tories undo them, one by one.  The shock of losing so many colleagues has been compounded by the Tories making cuts to the most vulnerable in our society.  

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In Full: Willie Rennie’s speech to Conference: Our liberal, radical offer to create real freedom for people in Scotland

Scottish Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie gave his speech to Conference yesterday. Unlike Kirsty, he didn’t dwell on the coalition years. He did, however, offer a devastating critique of the SNP Government, citing its illiberal and centralising instincts.

He set out his agenda for the elections to the Scottish Parliament next May:

Our election campaign will be about liberal values.

At our heart we want every individual to achieve their potential.

So we will bring in childcare and the pupil premium for children who need it, wherever they live in Scotland. Giving opportunity to every child to get up and get on – no matter the circumstances of their birth.

We stand with the powerless against the strong. Mental health will be taken seriously. No more six month waits. Professionals on standby in every A&E.

We say power is safer when it is shared and will trust communities and individuals with the power to control their own lives – putting an end to the Holyrood-knows-best mentality.

So we will put democracy back into the police and return to traditional Scottish policing by consent.

We will empower public sector workers – teachers, doctors, nurses, police and more;

Stripping back top-down targets, controls, league tables and testing to give them the freedom to do their job.

And we will share power across the whole UK to give a stable constitutional future for Scotland;

A federal system is a positive, unifying future for Scotland and the rest of the UK.

This is our positive vision;

Here is the speech in full:

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VIDEO: Watch the “Scrapping Trident” debate in full

Click below to watch this excellent example of Liberal Democrat debate from yesterday:

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Controversy over Glee Club Song Book, in connection with Charles Kennedy – the full story

PoliticsHome reports:

Campaigners have criticised the Liberal Democrats over songs mocking Charles Kennedy’s alcoholism just three months after his death.

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Conference Extras open thread: Tuesday 22 September: It’ll all end in Glee

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.

Today’s highlights

At 7:45 tonight, Norman Lamb is interviewed by Helen Duffett, the editor of the party’s all member Ad Lib magazine. She’ll be asking him about his plans for the future.

Norman will also be on a panel at lunchtime with our Stephen Tall at a Resolution Foundation fringe meeting discussing the need to rethink the Liberal Democrat approach to social justice.

At the same time Jo Swinson joins polling experts on a panel looking into why the polls got it so very wrong in the election.

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In Full: Kirsty Williams’ speech to Liberal Democrat Conference: A Britain without liberalism is a Britain that has lost its soul

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams gave her keynote speech to Conference yesterday and she did not mince her words.

She was candid about the failings of the coalition, saying that it looked like we’d never even tried to keep the pledge on tuition fees, and that our identity had been lost. 

She also said that one of the best ways to improve gender balance in parliamentarians was to help in Wales to make sure the Liberal Democrats did well as female candidates had been selected in many winnable seats.

She also set out her stall for the elections:

We believe in Freedom. Freedom of the individual, so everyone has the opportunity to be who they want to be and reach their full potential

We believe in Fairness – for diversity, against intolerance – the voice for the voiceless

And we believe in Community. Where we as individuals work together for the common good, where we empower communities to make decisions that work best for them

Most other parties can achieve some of those principles, but none combine them.

And what makes us unique is that we’re liberals

Feeling so strongly about something so positive gives us the power and confidence needed to take us forward:

The confidence to say immigration benefits our country

The confidence to say rehabilitation works better than prison

The confidence to say our voting systems, our institutions, our whole political system quite frankly stinks

The Human Rights Act, the green agenda, mental health – we fight for the underdog, we fight for what is right, leading on the issues that no-one else will.

Here is her speech in full:

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Conference debates open thread: Tuesday 22nd September

Whether you are physically in Bournemouth 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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++Conference passes “One member one vote” for party elections and conference votes


We have got there! We have at last completed our arduous journey over mountain, through thick jungle and through crocodile infested waters. We have at last arrived in the Elysian Fields!

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“Scrapping Trident” debate – what conference voted for today

Here follows the text of the motion passed by conference this afternoon at the end of the debate entitled “Scrapping Trident” on the agenda.

I have shown the original motion in normal text with the original line numbers, and lines through the text which was deleted by conference. In italics I have shown the text inserted by virtue of conference voting for Amendment 1:

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++Big conference decision: Amendment 1 to “Scrapping Trident” motion is carried after a card count

Conference voted in favour of amendment 1 to the “Scrapping Trident” motion this afternoon.

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Jo Swinson ‘mistaken for secretary’ by government official

Jo Swinson Opening Glasgow ConferenceThe BBC reports:

Former minister Jo Swinson has spoken of the “delicious” moment she was mistaken for a secretary by a senior government official.

The ex-Lib Dem MP, an equalities minister in the coalition government, was speaking about the difficulties faced by women in the workplace.

She said the official was mortified when he realised his mistake.
She also revealed that her then boss Vince Cable skipped a diversity training seminar she had set up.

Ms Swinson said she had set up a session for business department ministers and senior civil servants on avoiding “unconscious bias” in the workplace but that she was “the only minister that turned up”.

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Jeremy Corbyn is not just unelectable

My Sunday at Liberal Democrat Conference seemed to dwell more on Jeremy Corbyn than might be ideal. In the Agenda 2020 session on spelling out our priorities and vision for policy development for the next 5 years, I may have derailed things a little with the following observation.

Corbyn’s election is certainly a challenge to liberal economics. If anybody else – ourselves included – had suggested price controls, printing money, and offering easy alternatives to austerity that (like Syriza) you can’t deliver, they would not only be seen to be wrong, but thought to be highly cynical, grubbing around for votes with populist messages that can’t be delivered or in the knowledge that they would do more harm than good.

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VIDEO: Tim Farron’s very impressive debut Question & Answer session at conference in full

Please click below to see the whole of Tim Farron’s Question and Answer session at conference yesterday. Tim was in extremely impressive form for his first such session – which can be extremely demanding for a party leader. He was relaxed, confident, funny where necessary and very passionate.

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Foreign affairs – facing up to failure

20th Sep 2015 conference LDV fringeLiberal Democrat Voice hosted a very stimulating conference fringe meeting yesterday evening. Our editor, Caron Lindsay chaired the session discussing how we forge a liberal foreign policy in these challenging times. The panel consisted of Hannah Bettsworth, Julie Smith, William Wallace and Nick Tyrone. My photo above shows the panel while Hannah was speaking.

Thank you to the panel for each providing extraordinaryly thought-provoking inputs. Thank you also to the representatives who came along and asked excellent questions or made superb points.

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IN FULL: Nick Clegg’s speech to conference

Clegg conference 2015Here is the speech Nick Clegg is currently delivering at conference:

On the morning after I resigned as Leader of our party in the wake of that devastating election result, I decided to buy… a phone.

Rather than moping at home I thought I’d cheer myself up by buying some new gadgets.

In any event, I half expected some grim faced official from the Home Office to turn up and demand my security vetted Blackberry back at any minute.

So, I figured, what better way to prepare for life out of Government than getting my own phone?

So off I went with my eldest boy, Antonio, to the nearest high street.

I was braced, as you can perhaps imagine, for lots of awkward sideways glances from other shoppers.

After all, we’d just been subject to a very public drubbing at the hands of the country’s voters.

Instead, something quite unexpected happened: person after person came up to me to say how sorry they were, how undeserved they thought the election result was, how unfairly they thought we’d been treated.

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A welcome rebalancing of the media/members ratio at conference

Tim Farron 2015 bournemouth

Tim Farron, with Rosie Farron, awaits the cue to deliver his first conference speech as leader at Saturday’s night conference rally.Photo by Paul Walter.

Pssst. Let me tell you a little secret which you may not have noticed if you haven’t attended Lib Dem conferences. As we went through the coalition years, the numbers of members attending conference dwindled. No doubt someone is going to dispute this and quote detailed numbers. But it was pretty obvious and, towards the end, feintly embarrassing.

While the numbers of members attending conference went down, the numbers of media, police, security guards and sycophantic business people buzzing around soared.

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarnvelope2003 28th Nov - 12:52pm
    Not all local council by elections have resulted in Lib Dem gains. In Salisbury the party dropped from about 42% to 20% and the Conservatives...
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 28th Nov - 12:51pm
    Air strikes against Syria would inevitably mean civilian casualties. If we start to argue that some civilian casualties are a necessary evil - that "the...
  • User AvatarChris_sh 28th Nov - 12:37pm
    I turned up to give blood as usual on one occasion to be told that I couldn't participate. The reason being that they had realised...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 28th Nov - 12:35pm
    Good stuff press office. Keep it up 24/7.
  • User AvatarGordon 28th Nov - 12:12pm
    Simon - in relation to your question a government deficit is perfectly acceptable if it corresponds to something valuable in the real world. In accounting...
  • User AvatarGeoff Crocker 28th Nov - 12:11pm
    Thanks Gordon and I understand your point. I am arguing however that the government uniquely has the ability to issue money without creating debt. It...