A changing of the guard at Federal Conference Committee

Geoff Payne has been elected as the new Chair of Federal Conference Committee (FCC). Geoff served as Vice-Chair of the committee for eight years and was responsible for chairs’ training, access arrangements and the initial selection of venues and setting of registration rates. He was also a long-standing member of the Federal Policy Committee.

The election for chair followed the decision of long-serving former chair, Andrew Wiseman, to step down. Andrew was a highly popular chair of FCC and steered party conference through a period of great change including the coalition years. Everyone on FCC has paid tribute to his leadership and wishes him well for the future.

Geoff is replaced as Vice-Chair by Nick Da Costa. Elected to the committee in 2016, Nick has been a Parliamentary candidate and was successfully elected as a councillor in Alexandra ward in Haringey in 2018.

Zoe O’Connell continues her role as the Vice-Chair responsible for conference communications. She is a councillor in Cambridge and is well known for her work on equality and diversity issues.

You can keep in touch with the work of FCC through its Facebook page or its page on the party website.

Registration for Autumn Conference in Brighton is now open.

There is still time to seek drafting advice from FCC if you are interested in submitting a motion. The deadline for that is 13th June 2018. You can find out all you need about submitting a motion here. The motions deadline is 1 p.m. on 27th June.

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This entry was posted in Conference and Party policy and internal matters.


  • Gosh, bits of that do read like an obituary! Both Geoff and Andrew are alive and well, or at least were last time I heard from either of them…

    (PS: I think your conference-related-posts banner might need a refresh)

  • Oh my ! This is the kind of article which leaves me completely bewildered. Now I understand how local parties fill their various positions, that’s very transparent and completely democratic. Like wise the procedure for jumping the various hoops towards becoming an MP or MEP. But all these various committees who seem to actually run the party, I mean, with every ounce of due respect I can muster, who are these people ?
    In order to answer my own question I referred to the Federal Constitution. Article 7 tells me that there are 8 such committees, but most of the members seem to be ex oficio or appointed by one of the other committees. For example, the Federal People Development Committee (I know, it’s like an episode of W1A) has 6 people elected by the Federal Board. Now, stay with me here, it will be worth it !…… I went back to Article 6 and I find that the vast majority of the board members are elected by specific groups within the party BUT the board also includes the Chair of the other 7 committees (including the People Development Committee !). So the elected of one committee become the electors for another.
    Byzantine, and not entirely democratic.

  • Also found this. Article 6 of Federal Constitution says that “one member (of Federal Board) elected by all members of each State Party according to their own procedures”.
    From that you would that all members get a vote, but the get out is the final 5 words.

    So I looked at the English Party Constitution and there, Article 6.1, the roles of the English Council include, ” (e) to elect representatives of the Liberal Democrats in England to any committee established by the Federal Constitution”. Absolutely…don’t want the riff raff getting involved.

  • David Becket 4th Jun '18 - 3:17pm

    @Chris Cory
    You are right. The Byzantine undemocratic way the party is run is the main reason why it is difficult to get anything done, for example it takes too long to make policy. The recent review has done little to improve things. Let us look at every committee:
    What are its objectives
    What are its outputs
    How long is the time to produce an output from an input
    Who is it accountable to
    How are members elected
    What would happen if it did not exist

  • Zoe O'connell 4th Jun '18 - 3:30pm

    There’s a list (Now slightly out of date, as I only sent the updated version yesterday afternoon) of FCC members and how they got there at https://www.libdems.org.uk/federal_conference_Committee. The election results for directly elected members this cycle are at https://www.libdems.org.uk/federal-conference-committee-2017-results.

  • Matt (Bristol) 4th Jun '18 - 5:45pm

    Chris, I think there are many many people who would agree it’s not great.
    It is improving… I can honestly say that when the last round of committee elections came round, I was able – as largely an armchair member – to do some research and find out who some of ‘these people’ were, and possibly contribute to (some of) them getting elected.

    Hint, hint, all ye encrustations of the Lib Dem oligarchy – I tend to vote for people who
    a) tell me who they are and what they care about, in intelligible phrases
    b) have publicly available blogs or other organs
    c) actually tell me what their committees do
    d) show some kind of sign of keeping those promises
    e) aren’t pompous buttocks
    f) don’t throw too much hate at other members of the party

    I would be prepared to prioritise all of the above well over
    g) agree with my particular hobby-horses.

  • Chris, David, Matt:

    Any member can put forward a constitutional amendment, you know, and FCC has a lot less leeway to reject them than policy motions. Any one of you could perhaps put one forward that only directly elected members of any committee have a vote? This would, I suspect, include the leader and president as well as people directly elected actually to the committee, but would also mean that the appointees would get bored and not turn up. We would then be able to use article 7.3 of the constitution to get rid of them…

    Of course, such an amendment would need to be voted on by conference, and Joe Otten can tell you what happens to constitutional amendments that are not to the liking of conference.

  • Matt (Bristol) 6th Jun '18 - 1:01pm

    Jennie, thankyou…



    Thankyou to all members of all committees who tell us what they get up to, in the public domain…

  • Chris Cory is right – the governance of the party is Byzantine beyond imagining.

    I’m afraid it’s human nature. Committees invariably refract and distort whatever passes through them; create multiple committees with intersecting responsibilities and they will absorb immense amounts of time and energy while letting very little light through.

    So, to a limited extent, I disagree with Matt (Bristol) in that I don’t think electing different people, even ones who are brilliant communicators, agree with my hobby-horses or whatever would make much difference. The problem is NOT the people but the unworkably clunky system they are asked to operate.

    The solution is to keep it simple with short lines of communication and clear responsibility and accountability for everything. I fear the party is very, ahem, conservative, and slow to change but change it must if it is to survive.

  • Very grateful to David, Matt and Gordon for your comments. Jennie, I am not sure that the amendment you suggest would be the appropriate one. Better that all federal committees have at least 2 or 3 members who were elected by the whole membership. This might have the effect of making ordinary members more aware of the structures that exist in the party and would encourage those committees to communicate rather more effectively with the membership.
    Logically, the place to start is probably with the regional structures / constitution and work up from there. If I put a motion to my region (south central) in the autumn, will others do the same elsewhere ?

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