Tag Archives: conference

Why the Conference Access Fund is a good thing

I would like to tell you about the Conference Access Fund which Liberal Democrat members have provided. It helps members on low incomes or those who have a disability by providing financial assistance so that they can take part at conference. I used the fund to assist with the costs of having a support worker to enable me at conference. May I firstly say how helpful the stewards and Lib Dem HQ conference staff were at conference.

The Conference Access Fund is unique to the Liberal Democrats as the other four parties with the exception of the Green party (who give their members up to £90 for travel and expenses) do not have such a fund. The Labour Party mentions disability access and having a women’s day at the start of their conference but they do not provide financial help with the associated costs of attending. The Conservatives and UKIP do not mention either disability access or a fund.

Having discovered this, I then googled how many MPs are disabled within the current parliament. Only  2 MPs out of 650 have a disability. Also from the Bridge Review of the Civil Service and its fast stream programme, disabled people are significantly underrepresented. Where is the voice of disabled people in Parliament and in the policy making teams within the civil service?

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Last day to get early bird discount for Spring Conference

York bannerGiven the excellent results we’ve had in the past few months, most recently Sarah Olney’s fantastic victory in Richmond last week, the Spring Conference in York is going to be pretty good.

As well as that, the party will finally settle its position on nuclear weapons without fudging the issue as it has been doing for decades.

It is going to be well worth attending.

Registration is now open, and today is the last day you can claim the early bird discount. Registration (unless you are a first-timer, claimant or are …

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Bring a friend – they might even enjoy it

2015 policy pitch autumn conference by Paul Walter

Conference has a buzz and many local parties have suggested that it could be a good way of encouraging someone who is supportive to drink in the magic conference potion and become a full member – or even better.

But it hasn’t been easy to do this under the existing conference registration rules. Until now.

There is a new scheme designed to make it much simpler. You can find details here.

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Want to go to Spring conference and can’t afford it? Apply to Conference Access Fund by Friday

2015 policy pitch autumn conference by Paul WalterOur Spring Conference in York between 11-13 March is the first to be held under the new One Member One Vote rules. That means that every single party member could have a say as we make our policies.

I say COULD, because not every member can afford to go. Travel, accommodation and childcare costs put going to conference beyond the reach of many members.

This time, however, people can apply for a grant from the Conference Access Fund:

We have established a Conference Access Fund to improve accessibility for members attending conference. The fund consists of a contribution from the core Conference budget as well as donations from party members. Any contributions made by party members are ring-fenced for this purpose only and where applicable, any unused donations will be carried over to the next conference.

All applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If there is high demand, priority will be given to members who are attending Conference for the first time and members from underrepresented sections of society.

To do so for this Conference, you have to apply by this Friday. The online form is here.

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Open letter – please reinstate the creche

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Dear Tim

Yesterday you were campaigning in Faraday, my old ward in inner city Southwark. Way back in the 90s I was councillor for Faraday for eight years. Councillors’ expenses were meagre at that point and it took many thousands of pounds to win and keep that ward. My two ward colleagues and I dipped into our own pockets many a time. I can say without any shadow of a doubt that I could not have afforded to be a councillor had I had a family to provide for at that time.

When I was selected as a PPC and with a baby on the way I gave up work to combine my roles as candidate and parent. My husband reduced his hours to share childcare with me and be a mainstay of our 2005 General Election campaign. Our annual income at the time was £18,000 and we put £9,000 of our savings into paying for leaflets etc. In no way is this a personal whinge. My family’s financial sacrifice is not unusual. I knew another PPC who had remortgaged his house to pay for his campaigning.

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Let’s all make conference more financially diverse.

Tackling inequality is one of my greatest passions, it quite literally gets me out of bed in the morning.

It’s also quite well established now that the more representative decisions making bodies are, the more all of us benefit, no matter if we belong to an underrepresented group or not. The past decade has been a historical time in politics for minorities and activist groups have many proud achievements to celebrate in the name of diversity (yet of course, we still have so very far to go), but there’s one spectrum of diversity that’s not doing so well lately, and we don’t really appear to be tackling it head on, and that’s financial diversity.

Politics favours the rich. Not just because we aren’t doing enough to create a more fair society, but because Parliament is the most unrepresentative forum you could imagine, and by design: unless you’ve got a spare £34k knocking about, as Isabel Hardman estimated in the Spectator last year, you’d better be prepared to work 50 hours a week and volunteer maybe 20 on top of that if you want a chance of ever standing as a parliamentary candidate.

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Willie Rennie MSP writes… Trident: We must consider effect of disarmament on our international relationships

Our party has always had a sceptical view of nuclear weapons. Whether we personally adhere to a multi-lateral or unilateral route to disarm, few members feel comfortable with the concept or reality of such a powerful weapons system.

There are issues of geo-diplomacy and security and not just party positioning at stake. Although not in power now, we need to consider our policy as if we were in government not just a party in opposition hunting for differentiation.

The United Kingdom is a stable partner amongst the nuclear defended nations of the world. The importance of stable partners should not be understated especially when the Non Proliferation talks take place every five years. Britain has been an important cog in the reduction of nuclear capability across the globe through these talks.

We need to consider the effects on geo-diplomacy if we unilaterally disarm. It is a delicate balance and we should be extremely careful when seeking to change that balance.

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 12 Comments
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