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 AvatarColin 29th Jul - 1:47am
    Professor Michael Dougan, Professor of European Law, Liverpool Law School. Contains discussions about among other things how the Vienna Convention applies in this case. It...
  • User AvatarFrank Little 29th Jul - 12:34am
    > Let’s hope that these early instincts inform her actions in office. Norman Tebbitt was once on a picket line (allegedly) - well, he was...
  • User AvatarTim13 29th Jul - 12:30am
    Caron What you don't mention in the Carshalton case is that it is what ALDC describes as a "tricky defence" in difficult circumstances.
  • User AvatarDenis Mollison 28th Jul - 11:18pm
    The Scottish Party did discuss it - I moved a motion on Home Rule and the Independence Referendum at our Spring Conference in Inverness in...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 28th Jul - 11:04pm
    Sideline question, what will President Clinton ask her husband to do? How about Ambassador to the UK? (a post previously held by John F Kennedy's...
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 28th Jul - 11:04pm
    You will all be delighted to know that this post has made it into the weekly salacious gossip Popbitch email. Thanks to Jonathan Calder for...