Announcement about 2022 Conferences

The Federal Conference Committee recently met to discuss the Conference format for 2022.

We considered a number of options for next year’s conferences and took the difficult decision to hold Spring Conference as an online conference and only returning to an in-person event for Autumn Conference. The dates of Spring Conference will be 11-13 March 2022 and we will announce the dates and venue for Autumn Conference in due course.

The Committee discussed several options with regards to the format of Spring Conference and, whilst there was a strong desire within the Committee to return to in person meetings and events as soon as possible, our challenge was that the COVID situation remains uncertain and therefore still causes significant concern. While we are seeing more in person events happening, we have also seen the Welsh Labour conference in November cancelled due to COVID concerns.

If we had taken the decision to hold an in person Spring Conference, this would have taken place in York – a venue which we usually operate at full capacity. Enforcing social distancing and COVID measures would therefore have been extremely difficult with the potential number of attendees. Furthermore, the danger that a large number of people may not have felt safe attending a crowded in person event meant there was a significant risk of a drop in the number of members attending Conference.

As a party we are very reliant on revenue from registrations to make Spring Conference financially viable. The risk of a significant shortfall in revenue, coupled with the potential loss had we been we forced to cancel the event at a later date, meant the committee had to take the very hard decision to continue with an online conference format for Spring 2022.

That said, the Committee strongly felt that this should be the final online-only conference, if at all possible. For that reason, the Committee strongly endorsed holding an Autumn Conference in person next year.

We have also established a Hybrid Working Group to look at the options for hybridisation of Conference and to take forward some of the better elements from an online conference, including greater accessibility and wider participation for people who would not normally be able to attend conference. While we were not confident this could be implemented in time for Spring Conference, we are committed to finding a solution which works for Autumn Conference 2022 and beyond.

Finally, we strongly welcome any local or regional parties who might be interested in organising in-person events in their areas to coincide with Spring Conference. There were a number of successful in-person events which took place on the fringe of this year’s Autumn Conference and the Committee would welcome this being replicated and expanded for Spring Conference 2022.

* Nick Da Costa is Chair of the Federal Conference Committee

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6 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Oct '21 - 5:14pm

    Nick and friends, please do not think of it as a difficult decision if you refer to that as because you are less happy about it.

    The reason to be unhappy is that a virus is not remotely over, and meeting remotely, by more people, might make it over!

    Surely the party ought in these circumstances, be patted on the plural backs for very responsible practices. I was appalled by Labour in Brighton, Really so, even more, by Tories in Manchester. All packed in and loving their supposed bravado!

    If there is no virus the party ought to carry on the Spring conference online. It is better for the low paid or any on benefits , who cannot afford it. Indeed I would make it free and get sponsors!

    Please be very pleased you are being very sensible.

  • While acknowledging what Nick and Lorenzo have said, we have to acknowledge that risk and uncertainty are always a fact of life and we must not let the “Avoidance of excessive risk we know of” morph into an “Avoidance of any risk we choose to identify” approach which results in paralysis of the whole system.

    There have already been several insightful comments on the “I’ve had enough of nonference” article and I would urge Nick to read them and respond. The possibility of Hybrid really should have been looked at much earlier, but that is down to FCC.

    Setting up a Working party on Hybrid now and saying “While we were not confident this could be implemented in time for Spring Conference” really is a bad show and I think it should be possible (to a limited extent) as a pilot scheme to try ideas out so we are ahead of the game for Autumn.

    At the moment FCC seem to be saying “It’s all a bit toooo difficult for us.” We really do need a can do attitude like Paddy had. It won’t always go perfectly, sometimes things go wrong, but all in all it means you make much more progress.

  • Suzanne Fletcher 13th Oct '21 - 1:22pm

    But it IS a difficult decision. And a very difficult one for each person to make if it is to be just in person, having to balance a very strong desire to actually go, with the reality of actually taking the risk, accounting for personal circumstances of themselves or others they live with. Not just being at conference but what can be very difficult public transport journeys to get there on trains that can be very crowded.
    It is easy to say “have hybrid” but as I understand it there is a big cost implication of paying for conference facilities, and paying for flipin Hopin at the same time.
    Whatever is decided Hopin or whatever is used needs to be better, easier to work, chance for “practice sessions” beforehand, and more one to one help for those needing it.
    I am glad not to be on FCC and deciding.

  • David Evans 13th Oct '21 - 5:38pm

    Suzanne makes a good point about the cost implications of going hybrid, but we would need to know how much they are in actual numbers terms in order to make any sort of decision.

    How much would it cost? Big. is not a valid answer.

    One thing is sure they they would be more for a big Autumn conference, and if it went wrong, the adverse publicity would be massive – and the other parties whose conferences all come after ours would make sure we qualified for the “Joke party” label, just as Kier Starmer’s driving skills will be exploited by the Conservatives over the next few months – “Drive the economy. Couldn’t even drive a Lorry.”

    Much better to try it out in Spring and get members to understand it is a pilot trial not an opportunity to put the party on trial if people face some problems. Also the opportunity to work with York to develop it and us as pioneers of hybrid conferencing, could be a Win Win for both.

    All it takes is drive and vision and the party could go places. “It will cost too much” on its own would never cut it with Paddy.

  • Neil James Sandison 13th Oct '21 - 9:38pm

    note the door has been left open for a in person regional event . It would not give York the level of room occupancy they would like from hosting a national conference but it would allow for key note speeches to play to a live audience . In March many of us should be supporting our own local candidates and well into canvassing and campaigning to elect Councillors . Personally i enjoy events in venues like York and Nottingham but i adapted to the on line conference . Agree with Suzanne the Hopin experience could have been better but at least it was accessable to a wider range of members who given the rising cost of living will struggle next year affording to go to conference .

  • Neil, but the issue isn’t about holding something in York. The issue is about holding an in person (prefrably hybrid) Conference to raise our public profile. A regional event just won’t cut it.

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