A day in the life of…a newly elected member of Federal Conference Committee

As a newly elected member of the Federal Conference Committee (FCC) I was keen to get involved. I left home at 10:00 am in the morning to get to Southport and my first FCC meeting at 2:30 pm. Unfortunately, due to the traffic, I didn’t get to the conference until 3:00 pm and I got to the meeting half an hour late. A few heads were raised as I walked in – I think I made an impression!!

A discussion was in progress on the amendments and emergency motions, I thought it was quite detailed and well thought through. A very good article written by Zoe O’Connell for LDV  details the discussions.

After the meeting, the members of FCC were taken on a tour of the main Auditorium to familiarise themselves with the setup. I met one of the Stewards who was clearly exhausted. He informed me that he has been there since Thursday helping to set things up.

After the tour, there was a meeting to go through the rather complex conference standing orders. I thought the training and discussion on standing orders were very good and it reassured me that different scenarios that arise when motions are discussed can be managed consistently and fairly. On Saturday morning, and I arrived on time, there was another meeting to discuss the arrangements and motions for Sunday. 

So, to conference. Caron Lindsay has been writing timely and excellent articles on the discussions going on in the Auditorium. From a number of discussions with members I got the following feedback: –

  • The training was very good especially for Agents and General Data Protection Regulations;
  • Another member was surprised at the overall level of activity going on in the conference;
  • One member wanted more motions to be discussed, especially on Friday;
  • The Education debate was very popular and a number of members did complain to me that they were not given a chance to speak. When you have limited time to discuss a motion and more members who want to speak then the time allows, I am afraid this happens. However, (from the training I had earlier) the Chairs do go through all the cards to give the best balance on a debate they can;
  • A number of members were appreciative of the “Ask an Expert” service provided by Head Office;
  • Speaking to a number of exhibitors they felt they were being received well and engaging well with members. One of the advantages for exhibitors was that to get to the Auditorium members had to go past the exhibitors;
  • One or two members did not like the location of the conference;
  • A number of members did complain about accessibility saying there too many stairs;

I spent a lot of time in the hall observing my colleagues who were Chairing or aiding a session. I thought that they all did very well and I hope to follow their example. One of the main benefits of going to the conference is to meet up with friends from all over the country. This is a definite plus and the conference is a good opportunity for networking, although I spent most of my time talking with people I knew. For me the Education and the Brexit debate were the ones I particularly enjoyed as well as the Q&A with Vince Cable.

* Tahir Maher is a former Chair of South Central Liberal Democrats and lives in Wokingham.

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  • Since I didn’t get chance to say it when you arrived in the thick of a meeting (and I was chairing a debate when Saturday’s meeting happened): welcome!

  • It would be interesting to know the number of registered attendees at Conference and how it compares with previous years.

    The stated figure of just over 200 voting in a debate to suspend standing orders seems remarkably small and unhealthy (although I realise it wasn’t on the most gripping activity). Also, is party membership still rising or has it tapered off and is now going down ?

  • Tahir Maher Tahir Maher 15th Mar '18 - 5:00pm

    Jennie – hello back and I look forward to properly meet the members. They all looked like a lively bunch.

    @David, I was given an estimate attendance figure and that was 1500 which is not bad.

    @ Ian. Thank you for your comments. I wanted to try to get an idea of the effort the FCC put in to organise a conference. I am nit always sure it’s appreciated.

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