Category Archives: Events

The Syria Vote and Beyond – Radical Ideas for Difficult Problems

This Saturday, there is a day conference for Liberal Democrat members on the Syrian issue, sponsored by Lib Dem Lawyers association, Liberal International, and the Lib Dem Christian Forum.

It looks excellent.

Also posted in Party policy and internal matters | 21 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: How to learn lessons and not blow the EU referendum

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

Willie Rennie has finally written a frank and fascinating assessment of the flaws in the Better Together campaign. He draws a number of important conclusions which need to be learned if the EU referendum is not going to fall foul of the pitfalls that beset not only Better Together but in starker and disastrous form the incompetent Yes To AV campaign in 2011. All the articles are well worth a read.

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Conference Countdown 2015: Let’s scrap the “scrapping Trident” motion

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

Yesterday,  the Labour Party made the historic mistake of electing Jeremy Corbyn as its new party leader. Through this decision, it has thrown away years of work (and time in government) convincing the general public that it is electable. To a lesser degree, let us not do the same.

Naturally I respect the views of the “Scrapping Trident” lobby within the party. Theirs is a noble cause. But it should be remembered that the party already threw out the idea of scrapping Trident at party conference just two years ago by coming to a compromise that we would make substantial savings by reducing the number of Successor submarines from four to three.

Also posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged and | 56 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: Transgender and intersex health charter

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

First thing on Monday morning, Conference will debate a long 122 line motion on what is billed as a health charter for transgender and intersex people, but actually is much more wide-ranging.

Trans and intersex  rights is the next major front for equality campaigners. Lynne Featherstone in government set out an ambitious transgender action plan but this was kicked into the long grass when she was moved out of the Home Office in 2012.

Certainly, there is much to be done, Figures show that waiting times for a first appointment at a gender identity clinic are more than excessive.

Gender Identity clinic waiting times

 

In Scotland, young people are now being told that they have a 7 month wait before they will get an appointment at the only Gender Identity Clinic for children and  teenagers in the country. This is a mighty chunk out of a school year for very vulnerable young people who may be at particular risk of self harm and suicide.

One issue that I don’t think the motion tackles is the lack of gender specialists being trained. Until more people can be attracted into the field, the problem is surely only going to get worse at a time when many more people are seeking help. In Scotland, referrals are steeply increasing, with 2 young people a week being added to the waiting list. The clinic has recently been extended from one half day a week to one full day a week but that is far from sufficient to cope with demand. An article in today’s Sunday Herald shows the extent of the problem:

The long wait can have a serious impact on trans people who are desperate for help, both mentally and physically.

Gerber admitted: “It can be distressing and there are reports of people committing suicide as a result of that.”

Steph Bell, from Edinburgh, said she was so desperate for treatment that she told her health board she was thinking of buying hormones online, as she couldn’t face waiting months for help.

The 29-year-old claims after she told the Lothian health board her plans they agreed to move her up the waiting list, but nine months later she has still not been seen.

Bell, who has a mild form of Asperger’s syndrome, said she avoids going out alone and struggles with anxiety, made worse by her wait for hormone therapy.

Here is the motion in full. The deadline for amendments is tomorrow at 1pm. 

Also posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 13 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: Call for better youth services

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

The final debate before the Leader’s Speech is on the subject of youth services. The motion’s promoters have been very busy this week, ensuring coverage on the Children and Young People now website. Mathew Hulbert told the site:

Hulbert said the Lib Dem Friends of Youth Services has been formed to campaign internally in the party to influence the party line on youth services in the current parliament and through into the next general election in 2020. “The other part of it is being able to speak out by whatever means possible, joining other other people from the sector who are saying that young people are being dumped on time and again – whether it be youth services, or cuts to benefits. “What have young people done to deserve being treated in this way by government?”

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Conference Countdown 2015: Cutting VAT for tourism would be a costly mistake

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

One of the motions at conference is for reducing VAT on tourism as far as possible. Here’s why that’s a bad idea.

The idea is to reduce VAT on hotels and selected attractions from the standard rate of 20% to 5% – the minimum allowed by the EU. This is something the British Hospitality Association has been lobbying the Treasury on for years. The motion refers to the importance of tourism more generally, with figures that include all restaurants, pubs and outbound flights, amongst other things, but I assume its VAT proposal is (mercifully) more limited.

The government’s response to this lobbying (under both Labour and the Coalition of which we were a part) has been to point to the substantial price tag. The cost of cutting VAT for accommodation alone would be £2 billion a year, with amusement parks and similar adding another £200 million. This is serious money. A comparable total would be the cost of the Pupil Premium that Lib Dems fought so hard to introduce.

Also posted in Conference and News | Tagged , , and | 22 Comments

Conference Countdown 2015: The first policy debate on creating safe and legal routes for refugees.

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

The first policy debate of tho year’s Conference is on Creating safe and legal routes for refugees. It will be proposed by Suzanne Fletcher who is one of the founder members of Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary.

The motion is unlikely to be controversial and is particularly relevant at the moment. It is very consistent with the sorts of things that Tim Farron has been saying, especially since he visited the refugees in Calais himself.

However, if there are any developments, amendments can be submitted until 7th September. 

Also posted in Conference and News | Tagged | 2 Comments
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