Since when is something debated in public, in front of journalists called “hidden”?

Since yesterday, in fact. Because in an otherwise thoughtful piece on hung Parliaments in The Independent, Steve Richards made this comment:

If there is a hung parliament there will almost certainly be no formal coalition government, even if Nick Clegg and Vince Cable would like to join one. Clegg is trapped by what is known as his party’s “triple lock”, a hidden rule that might become of vital relevance. Before entering a coalition he is bound to secure the agreement of his MPs, other national representatives and the membership.

Credit to Steve Richards for knowing about this rule. But “hidden”? It was decided on at the party’s Spring 1998 conference in a public debate with several hundred people in the hall and in front of the (mostly) massed ranks of the media. Given that the Saturday debate was seen as a grassroots revolt against Paddy Ashdown’s desire for deals with Labour, it was no obscure event. Both the Observer (“Ashdown on leash over Labour ties”) and the Sunday Times (“Coalition blow for Ashdown”) had coverage the following day for example.

Calling something debated in public, in front of the media and then run in national newspapers as “hidden” is using a different vocabulary from me I’m afraid. (I asked Steve Richards for a comment on why he thought this was the right word to use, but he didn’t get back to me before this post went to press.)

The key part of the motion reads:

Conference agrees that:

(i) in the event of any substantial proposal which could affect the Party’s independence of political action, the consent will be required of a majority of members of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons and the Federal Executive; and,

(ii) unless there is a three-quarters majority of each group in favour of the proposals, the consent of the majority of those present and voting at a Special Conference convened under clause 6.6 of the Constitution; and,

(iii) unless there is a two-thirds majority of those present and voting at that Conference in favour of the proposals, the consent of a majority of all members of the Party voting in the ballot called pursuant to clause 6.11 or 8.6 of the Constitution.

I remember the events as I was the aide in the debate and it was a long, highly charged debate with a lot of work to be done to smooth out administrative hiccups that could have otherwise distracted from the main issues at stake. I suspect one or two people in the audience may also have been distracted by the chance occurrence that myself and the debate’s chair – Liz Barker – by coincidence turned up in remarkably similar clothes. That and my then hair

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

3 Trackbacks

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRichard Clein 30th May - 4:53pm
    Not my title Nick and not sure what you are inferring. For the record my title was "Clowning around - Liverpool’s political circus is back...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 30th May - 4:15pm
    Stevan Rose: Home team in England, not retained in Mexico in 1970. jimmy Greaves unavailable injured in the final. No substitutes. No goalmouth electronics. Referee...
  • User AvatarCatherine Royce 30th May - 4:07pm
    Congratulations, -so gender balance is possible, with a wider mixture of talents, which is good news for Scotland, rest of party take note and act,...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 30th May - 3:21pm
    Cameron & Osborne are doing a pretty good job of trashing the economy, and the Tory Party is doing a pretty good job on trashing...
  • User AvatarSimon McGrath 30th May - 3:20pm
    You are doing great work Shas , but surely their should be some comment on the role of the French government in failing to provide...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 30th May - 2:57pm
    Very good article Lauren and I would add another word: hope. If people think Corbyn is going to trash the economy then not many are...