This decision follows an extensive member consultation and debate by the Federal Conference Committee, Federal Finance and Administration Committee and the Federal Executive.
As Liberal Democrats we would prefer it if accreditation were not something we had to consider. Many of us have concerns surrounding individual privacy and personal freedoms and none of us want to put any member who wishes to attend Conference in a difficult position. This view was clearly articulated in the motion passed at Conference last year and in many of your submissions to FCC’s consultation.
However, whilst some of us are willing to risk the possibility of serious harm to ourselves by not following police recommendations to accept accreditation for all conference goers, we accept that we do not have the right to impose this on others who have no choice about attending Conference. This includes the many staff that will be working for the venue, the Conference hotel or for the Party.
In addition, there is a significant and substantial financial risk to the Party if we opt to go against the recommendation of the police and security services. This is not a risk FFAC is prepared to take with our finances at this time.
Given the motion passed at Autumn Conference last year, this recommendation left us with a very difficult decision to make. We were faced with weighing the opinions of some of our members and Conference against security recommendations, our duty of care, and the practicalities of holding a large, high profile, conference as a party of government.
After lengthy discussions, FCC concluded that the potential financial implications of refusing accreditation, including the burden of risk regarding Party liability, were too large for it to consider alone, and therefore resolved to pass the decision onto the Federal Finance and Administration Committee (FFAC), who are responsible for the finances of the Federal Party. Their decision was to approve accreditation for Autumn Conference and tonight this was noted and approved by the Federal Executive, of which FFAC is a sub-committee.
Since Birmingham last year, and as part of our consultation, FCC heard extensively from LGBT+ as to their concerns regarding transgender members, and FCC have and will continue to work hard with them to address these.
In the unlikely circumstance that the police recommend that we do not accredit a party member, the final decision as to the attendance of any Party member rests with the Party (represented by the Federal Conference Chair in consultation with the Party President and the Chief Executive). This is subject to a right of appeal to the Federal Appeals Panel and provision for a local party to nominate a substitute voting representative.
We are aware that this decision will not be an ideal outcome for some of you. It has been very difficult for each of the Committees involved to weigh the opinions of some of our members and Conference against security recommendations, our duty of care, and the practicalities of holding a large, high profile Conference as a party of government. We hope however that this post goes some way to explain the reasons for the decision made.
Andrew Wiseman is Chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Conference Committee
Duncan Greenland is Chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Finance and Administration Committee
Tim Farron is Chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Executive Committee