Tag Archives: federal policy committee

Why the front page of our manifesto reminds me of 50 Shades of Grey

Manifesto_Covers_2015So, it’s out. The front page of the Liberal Democrat manifesto gives five key policy priorities. These things are a negotiation in themselves and the version released is substantially zingier than the version initially presented to the Federal Policy Committee on Monday night. By way of example, I understand that the Five Green Laws point was initially described as a “Nature Law.” Why that makes me think of the Glee Club song “English Country Garden”, I can’t imagine.

Now, every single Liberal Democrat, being the
unique bunch that we are, will think that we could have worded these priorities much better, or we would have chosen something else. I certainly could. I’d have had housing in there and I sure as hell would not have put balancing the books as the first thing on the list. I’m not convinced of the need to do so in the next Parliament, even if I recognise that we can’t go back to the Days of Deficit Central while the economy is growing. The reason it is there, though, is because the economy, jobs and continued recovery feature highly in every survey of voters’ priorities.

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Sir Malcolm Bruce writes…Creating liberal policies to change the political agenda

I was delighted on Tuesday to be elected as chair of the Federal Policy Committee, for the period up until the general election when I will stand down after 32 years as an MP. With the election now only a few months away it will be a busy and exciting time for the committee as we look to finalise the manifesto and the offer we will take to voters on May the 7th. I’m confident the new committee is up to the challenge and I cannot think of a more talented or committed group of people to work with over the coming months.

Posted in Op-eds | 10 Comments

Federal Committee candidate lists announced

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderIf you are a party member, you might want to head to this thread on our Members’ Forum to see the lists of people standing for the Party Committees. The ballot will be conducted predominantly online with links to the ballot being provided to those Conference Representatives for whom the party has an email address. Those emails will be being despatched imminently. Ballots will be sent by post to those for whom there is no email address. The postie will be struggling up the path with the weight of the mailing – there are over 100 candidates for the 42 places on the three committees.

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Times reports Lib Dem “infighting” but misses out David Laws’ dismissal of their “highly misleading” story

Yesterday, the Times reported that the Liberal Democrat leadership were preparing to ditch policies from our manifesto which wouldn’t get agreement from either the Conservative or Labour parties. I wrote of the dangers of such a move, arguing that our manifesto needed to be brimming with liberalism.

David Laws, who chairs the manifesto group, wrote on the party website that the Times story was highly misleading.

The latest example of this is the highly misleading article on the front page of today’s Times (18 February) under the headlines ‘Lib Dems Axe pledges for coalition deal’ and ‘Lib Dems seeking policies to

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Opinion: Secrecy, federal committees and a lack of democracy

meetingNearly all the debates about Liberal Democrat federal committees and democracy hinge on who the electorate for committee elections should be – conference reps or all party members?

However these debates miss a big problem, which is simply that the electorate, whoever it is, knows very little about the performance of incumbents. Democracy isn’t just about the right people having the vote, it’s about them being able to cast their votes in a meaningful way.

If you don’t know what people have done, it is hard to hold them to account.

Currently there …

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Immigration, Asylum and Identity consultation paper now available

The working group focusing on the party’s policies on immigration, asylum and identity, chaired by Andrew Stunell MP, has just released its consultation paper ahead of next month’s conference.

The paper’s introduction sets out its aims thus:

1.1.1 The policy working group Immigration, Asylum & Identity aims to craft a practical, liberalpolicy which rebuilds public confidence in an immigration system that should be robust, efficient,and fair.

1.1.2 This consultation paper focuses on the future of migration as it affects the UK, theoperation of the asylum process in the context of our obligations under international law, and theintegration of immigrant communities and new citizens

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Help develop Party policy in two new working groups

The party’s Federal Policy Committee has recently decided to commission policy working groups on the implications of an ageing society (to be chaired by Paul Burstow MP) and on equalities (covering all the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act).

These groups will be writing policy papers intended for debate at the party’s Autumn 2014 conference and will need to start work as soon as possible.

We are very dependent on the voluntary efforts of our members to bring their time, fresh ideas and clear thinking to our policy working groups.

I’d like members, especially those who can often be …

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | 1 Comment

Duncan Hames MP writes… Help shape Party policy in two new working groups

The Federal Policy Committee is advertising for members for two new policy working groups: Reform of Public Services, and Tackling Crime and Reform of the Criminal Justice system.

The Public Services group will look at overarching issues relevant to all public services, including themes like decentralisation and user empowerment, and also address specific policy issues in major services like education and health.

The other group will look at all aspects of preventing and reducing crime and the fear of crime, through the whole range of policy interventions.

Both groups are expected to produce policy papers for the Autumn 2014 party …

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David Laws to chair 2015 Manifesto Working Group

It’s now official: Lib Dem schools minister David Laws will chair the party’s Manifesto Working Group. Lib Dem MP Duncan Hames, who chairs the party’s Federal Policy Committee, has just emailed members with the following message:

Last night at the party’s Federal Policy Committee we agreed Nick Clegg’s nomination of David Laws MP to Chair the Manifesto Working Group for the next General Election. Alongside David, we also appointed two Vice-Chairs – Sharon Bowles MEP and Duncan Brack – and nine further members of the group.

The Manifesto Working Group reports to the Federal Policy Committee, which has responsibility for preparing the

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Opinion: Halfway to 2015 – three bits of advice for new Lib Dem Federal Party Committees

The beginning of 2013 not only marks the start of the second half of the Coalition, but also the start of the newly elected Federal Committees. Here is some advice for the three crucial ones, Federal Policy Committee (FPC), Federal Conference Committee (FCC) and Federal Executive (FE).

For FPC: Radical policy is required for 2015
Common sense says the 2015 manifesto should play it safe, yet common sense is often wrong.

A study of policy positions in party manifestos since 1971 in Norway, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK shows: Parties in Government who adopt relatively extreme ideological positions do …

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Federal Committee Election results 2012

Postal ballot paper being postedLiberal Democrat Federal Conference reps have voted for members of party committees for 2013-2014; the results are as follows:

Federal Executive committee
Places: 15
Candidates elected:

Qassim Afzal
Elaine Bagshaw

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Lib Dems’ internal elections: your guide to where we’re at (UPDATED)

Every couple of years the Lib Dems hold internal elections in which conference representatives choose members of key party committees. As one of the seemingly few Lib Dems neither standing for election nor with a vote, I thought our readers might like an update on where we’re at…

Federal Executive

What does it do?
The formal answer: ‘The Federal Executive is an elected committee responsible for directing, co-ordinating and implementing the work of the Federal Party.’ (From the party website.)
The informal answer: What does the Federal Executive do? by Alison Goldsworthy
Who’s standing?
There are 36 candidates (26 men, 10 women) competing for …

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Opinion: Creating a fairer tax system

As Benjamin Franklin wrote back in the eighteenth century, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. So while tax policy may not set hearts racing, anything that takes money from people’s pockets will provoke a strong response.

Already, in government, we’ve had major successes. Our flagship tax policy of a £10,000 tax-free allowance is being implemented, which will provide millions of taxpayers with an tax cut of £705 per annum by the end of this Parliament; we’ve raised capital gains tax for higher rate taxpayers; and we are clawing back £7bn worth …

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Why stand for Federal Policy Committee?

Here is the third article about the work of party committees, written by current members. Each provides insight into how a specific committee functions. We hope these articles will encourage party members to consider putting themselves forward for election.

Why did more people put themselves forward for election to the Federal Policy Committee than any other federal committee in 2010? Because with Liberal Democrats now in Government our policies matter more than ever before – as this new booklet  makes clear.

So what exactly does the Federal Policy Committee do? While the party Constitution enshrines Conference as the Liberal Democrats’ sovereign policy-making …

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First of the new style Federal Policy Committee reports published

Following the series of questions from me to the party’s federal committees at the party’s Spring conference, all the major committees promised to provide written reports in future after each of their full committee meetings.

The first such Federal Executive report has been posted up in the members-only forum on this site (see the Party Organisation section), but the Federal Policy Committee has instead gone for publishing its first report via the main party website (see the foot of this page), which I have reproduced below.

Although the report is fairly minimalist, it does provide the key information about which policy groups are likely to be reporting when. That is important information for anyone wanting to influence the party’s policy decisions as working with the grain of the administrative calendar where possible makes things easier and more likely to be successful than ignoring it.

Federal Policy Committee Meeting 21 March 2012

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 1 Comment

Federal Policy Committee welcomes careful thinkers

It is almost certainly a complete coincidence but, having published some thoughts on how the Party might develop policy in future, news reaches us that Federal Policy Committee are looking for volunteers (Party members only, I’m afraid) to form Policy Working Groups on the following subjects;

    Transition to a Zero Carbon Britain
    A Balanced Working Life (focussing on low-to-middle earners)
    Skills and Post-16 Education
    Political and Constitutional Reform

One might almost suspect that work on the 2015 Manifesto has begun…

For an application form for these working groups, please contact the Party’s Policy Unit on 020 7340 4989, or e-mail lucymcdonaldlibdemsorguk.

The deadline for applications is …

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | 6 Comments

Keeping Party policy fresh, relevant… and ours

Yesterday, I outlined some of the issues that impact on how we make policy as Liberal Democrats, and some very interesting comments came from that, for which I am grateful. Today, here are some thoughts of my own, which build on those comments and on my own thinking…

Whilst Federal Policy Committee has been attempting to reconcile the variety of tasks to be addressed, the Party has seen the emergence of a number of ginger groups. Added to the long-established, but increasingly dormant, Liberal Vision, which appears not to have developed much beyond being a small group of libertarians with …

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Changing the way Liberal Democrats develop policy – some thoughts from the country

Nearly two years into the Coalition, and with the Health and Social Care Bill now on its way to Buckingham Palace for Royal Assent, now seems a good time to reflect on the future of ideas within the Party.

There will be those who will wonder why a self-confessed bureaucrat, not known for a yen for policy wonkery, would be worrying about such things. And I guess that they would have a point. But from a process perspective, I suggest that the way that we make policy is now flawed.

At the moment, the hub through which virtually all policy passes is …

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Two useful steps forward in party business at conference

Despite a resurgence in recent years, the tabling of questions to party committee reports at Liberal Democrat conference is still very much a minority sport. So much so that 100% of questions to the Federal Policy Committee came from a certain North London Doctor with an penchant for chocolate…

The questions do however provide a good opportunity to ferret out information or push for a decision where you know the door is half-open. In my case this morning at Gateshead that resulted in questions to both the Federal Conference Committee and the Federal Policy Committee asking them to start publishing reports …

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Opinion: What price democracy in the Lib Dems?

Over the past 21 months I have had many moments when I have felt close to despair about the behaviour of our parliamentarians. Sometimes, like voting in favour of tuition fees, they can rightly point to the Coalition Agreement – endorsed overwhelmingly – as Nick Clegg observed at the time – by a North Korean like Special Conference. Other times, like voting against party policy on Legal Aid and Welfare Reform – there is no such defence. Last night calls into question the fundamental values and principles of our party, not just in terms of flying in the face of …

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Should the way members of federal committees vote be public?

At the end of my post on the Federal Executive’s decision that the Liberal Democrats should (mostly) not fight police commissioner elections, a decision at odds with the views of party members we surveyed, I made reference to the fact that the details of such votes are not published and usually remain confidential. Sometimes news of who voted which way seeps out but, for example, you’re not officially meant to know that three members of the FE voted against that decision or who the three were.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | 12 Comments

Opinion: It’s all my fault!

For the past half century, the party has been growing steadily in influence and numbers. There have been electoral set-backs (1970, 1989, and now 2011). The question is: is this our nadir?

And what will decide if this is really the low point, or if we are doomed to carry on sinking in the esteem of the public?

Most commentators have talked this question in terms of short term issues, like how the party manages to play the coalition. But actually there is something far more fundamental that requires attention.

It is whether we can …

Posted in Op-eds | 46 Comments

Everything you ever wanted to know about… Policy and the Parliamentary Party (part 3)

In the first two parts of this mini-series, I looked at how policy is made, and how its creation is managed. Today, I want to look at its failings, the implications of those failings, and how future policy making might be shaped.

As a party of perpetual opposition, our inclusive but often ponderous policy-making regime allowed members to influence core policy, in the knowledge that it would be a means of attacking the Government, but was unlikely to be applied. Occasionally, that led to somewhat populist ideas being espoused but, if a Government did something in a field where our policy was obsolete, or overtaken by events, our spokespeople had a set of principles to fall back on.

Such an arrangement worked, for the most part, especially in small Parliamentary Parties. However, its weaknesses became more apparent as Labour’s mania for legislation produced a plethora of technical changes in need of detailed scrutiny.

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New Lib Dem councillor representatives elected for party committees

Via the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC) comes the news:

Elections have taken place to elect the principal councillor representative on two Federal Party Committees for 2011-2012:

On the Federal Executive Committee the following have been elected:

Cllr Stan Collins (South Lakeland DC and Cumbria CC)
Cllr Keith House (Eastleigh BC and Hampshire CC)

On the Federal Policy Committee the following have been elected:

Cllr Louise Bloom (Eastleigh BC)
Cllr Stan Collins (South Lakeland DC and Cumbria CC)
Cllr Chris White (St Albans CC and Hertfordshire CC)

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Federal Policy Committee elects its three Vice-Chairs

Last night Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, former Oxford West and Abingdon MP Evan Harris and Jeremy Hargreaves were elected to be the Federal Policy Committee’s three Vice-Chairs. Evan and Jeremy have long been high-profile figures in the party’s policy-making process and Julian has rapidly joined their ranks as his profile in the party has risen over the last couple of years.

So what is notable about the trio is not any of their presence in it, but that Danny Alexander, former FPC Vice-Chair and in charge of the 2010 manifesto team but now a Cabinet Minister, is no-longer one of the …

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More results: party committees and interim peers panel

Liberal Democrat Federal Conference representatives have voted for members of party committees for 2011-2012 and members of the panel from which future Liberal Democrat nominees for the House of Lords will be drawn.

The results are as follows:

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Our ministers can’t always follow party policy

The issue of tuition fees has raised a more general challenge the party needs to get its head round. This one’s been bubbling away quietly since the Lib Dems entered the Coalition and we seem no closer to an answer now than we were then.

Are our Government ministers bound by party policy?

When one of our ministers is formulating what the UK Government should do on a specific issue, or setting out the Lib Dem bargaining position to get the best final deal, how far should that minister be reaching for a party policy document rather than using their own …

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Federal Policy Committee confirms party’s tuition fee pledge

From the Liberal Democrats website:

Tonight, Wednesday October 13, the Federal Policy Committee of the Liberal Democrats held their regular meeting.

During the meeting they held a special session to discuss the latest announcements following the Browne Review.

In a statement following the meeting, the committee spokesperson said: “FPC confirms the Liberal Democrat party policy remains to phase out tuition fees.

“We are now in a coalition government and we will continue during the period of discussion and consultation to work with our coalition partners towards achieving a policy that meets our key concerns and is progressive.”

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How does the party’s policy-making work during coalition?

Here’s what the report to conference from the Federal Policy Committee (FPC) says on the matter:

The FPC has had a number of discussions on the implications for its role and the Party’s policy-making of our new status as a party of government. The FPC is very clear that the Party’s complete independence in policy-making shall continue. The Committee will be developing new ways of working both to ensure the maximum Liberal Democrat policy input into the Coalition Government, and also to continue to ensure a separate Liberal Democrat policy identity. In particular the FPC will developing a close working

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 15 Comments

Julian Huppert elected to Federal Policy Committee

Julian Huppert, David Howarth’s successor as MP for Cambridge, has been elected to the party’s Federal Policy Committee (FPC). Julian is rather in the Evan Harris mode in that he’s very interested in (and knowledgeable about) scientific issues, keen to see evidence properly scrutinised, likely to be an active participant in the FPC’s work and, in as much as the labels make sense, rather more of a social liberal than an economic one.

You can follow Julian on Twitter at @julianhuppert.

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 1st Apr - 2:07pm
    Michael BG There are some people on here who do not take the two positions you keep saying everyone does. This is why some people...
  • User Avatarjames 1st Apr - 2:05pm
    Money directly down the sink. I wonder who these large donors are, what they do and what they hope to gain...
  • User AvatarTabman 1st Apr - 2:05pm
    Glenn. Indeed at the last election we had 67% of the votes cast for the conservatives yet only 18% of their seat tally. I would...
  • User AvatarAlex Sabine 1st Apr - 2:02pm
    "...and other species of lazy cliches...", even
  • User AvatarAlex Sabine 1st Apr - 1:58pm
    @ Philip I agree that the Lib Dems should only consider coalition if the combined number of seats is of the order of 325. But...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 1st Apr - 1:55pm
    expats Sadly,not only were there no red lines but our leadership seemed to be as enthusiastic about implementing policies, that had “TORY” written in large...
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