Author Archives: Zoe O’Connell

What will the party debate in Brighton?

Federal Conference Committee met this weekend – unusually at Amnesty HQ in London rather than LDHQ – to set the Agenda for Autumn conference in Brighton.

If you have not yet registered, please don’t forget – conference runs from the 15th to 18th September, and you can sign up at https://www.eventsforce.net/autumnconference2018. Or, if you’d like to take advantage of our new refer-a-friend discounts, see https://www.libdems.org.uk/refer_a_friend

As noted in my reports on Spring conference, the snap election last year delayed progress on several policy papers which have now come through so time pressure was again an issue. This did mean that some good motions that would have fared better had there been more time were dropped early in round one of voting. I should also mention that a Nem Con decision does not mean that no members liked a motion. FCC runs largely according to consensus, where only issues that might be controversial or result in a close vote end up with a formal show of hands. If only one or two people are arguing for/against a motion, it is often not worth pushing it to a vote. Running 63 votes in round one alone would risk the meeting becoming a multi-day epic!

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | 11 Comments

Federal Conference Committee Report Back

Firstly, Andrew Wiseman stepping down as Chair of Federal Conference Committee (FCC) and Geoff Payne’s subsequent election as his replacement left a vacancy for one of two Vice Chair slots on the committee. As has been reported previously on LibDemVoice, Nick da Costa won the subsequent election and joined me as Vice Chair. Andrew’s departure from the committee also left a vacancy for an ordinary member and based on a recount of the original election result we can now welcome Jon Ball back on to FCC.

FCC then had the chance to question a representative of Your Liberal Britain about their …

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

Federal Conference Committee Report: Amendments and emergency motions selected

Federal Conference Committee (FCC) has now selected the amendments and emergency motions for spring conference. The full text of selected amendments and emergency motions will appear in Conference Extra and Conference Daily, which may well have been published by the time you read this.

Emergency motions that are in order (I.e. genuine emergencies) are selected by all-member ballot on Saturday morning, via the ballot box at the front of the auditorium. Full details on the process and content will appear in Saturday’s Conference Daily.

Some authors of amendments have included titles, but this is not mandatory so a number are my own …

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Federal Conference Committee report – January 2018

Just over a week ago, Federal Conference Committee met at LibDem HQ to set the Agenda for Southport in March, now just under six weeks away.

It is always tough to sort through the many worthy motions that are submitted, but on this occasion the job was even harder – the snap election last year delayed some policy papers back so we have very limited time to debate non-policy-paper motions. We also had an increased number of motions submitted, 34, compared to 26 this time last year.

Unfortunately, that lack of time is likely to spill over into Autumn too with more …

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 25 Comments

Federal Conference Committee Report – amendments and emergency motions for Bournemouth

Federal Conference Committee (FCC) met on Saturday to discuss amendments and other issues for debate in Bournemouth this weekend.

As a quick recap, and for those who haven’t been to conference before, three things can happen to an amendment: They can be accepted for debate and voted on my conference, they can be drafted in as if they were part of the original motion or they can be rejected. Drafted in amendments should not be controversial or ambiguous in any way, and typically they will update a motion to reflect recent events, or correct or clarify wording.

The time for each motion is listed, as this can be a factor when deciding to select an amendment for debate. One amendment is the realistic limit for a 45 minute debate, and longer debates allow us to fit more in.

Some disclaimers needed: The titles are my own brief summaries to give a flavour of the types of things people seek to amend, as the submitters of amendments do not need to include them. Errors or lack of clarity are my own fault. As with motions, non-selection does not mean that the topic is not worthy as amendments may contain technical errors, a lack of clarity, are too insubstantial or not sufficiently within scope of the original motion.

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Federal Conference Committee report on selection of motions for Bournemouth

 

Federal Conference Committee met again last weekend to select motions that will be debated when we meet in Bournemouth. 41 motions were submitted, and usually selection proceeds in rounds. Motions are first eliminated on the basis of drafting, debatability and other such issues before subsequent rounds trim the agenda further based on time constraints.

However, due to the snap general election we received slightly fewer motions than usual for an Autumn Conference so only one round of debate was required. In most cases, the discussion gave a clear consensus and no vote was needed, but I have noted below where there was a vote that was particularly close.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 76 Comments

Federal Conference Committee Report

Federal Conference Committee (FCC) met this afternoon to go through the amendments, emergency motions and topic issues submitted for spring conference. Thank you to all those who submitted items for consideration – unfortunately, the deadlines for spring conference are very tight compared to autumn, so we do not have time to give everyone the individual feedback on amendments and motions we usually would. The full text of selected amendments and emergency motions will appear in Conference Daily.

Emergency motions are selected by ballot and papers should be returned to the ballot box in the auditorium on Saturday morning. Full details will appear in Saturday’s Conference Daily.

In all, 16 amendments, 13 emergency motions/topic issues and 5 questions to committees were considered by FCC. With the exception of the titles of emergency motions, the summaries are my own so apologies if any errors have crept in. The amount of time for debating each motion is listed, as this is a good indication to the number of amendments we can debate. A 45 minute motion can realistically only have one debated amendment, whereas a 90 minute motion might have up to three.

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Federal Conference Committee Motions Report

Avid readers of Liberal Democrat Voice will already have seen Geoff Payne’s report on the results of this weekend’s Federal Conference Committee meeting. All those whose motions were not selected should now have received feedback, so we’re able to release the list of motions to be debated in March when the party gathers in York.

Although I have covered this before, a quick reminder of how FCC selects motions is probably helpful particularly as this is the first time I have included information on voting. Selection runs in rounds, with the first round consisting of an FCC member responsible for a particular policy area briefly introducing the motion and making a recommendation on inclusion on the agenda. After this, committee members discuss it and decide if it should be accepted or not. This usually involves a show of hands, although the decision is often clear following the debate and a lack of any objection to the recommendation. Even being very tough in round one, we always end up with more excellent motions left than can fit in the agenda, so the process is then repeated in subsequent rounds as necessary.

It is important to note that non-selection of a motion usually does not mean that FCC believes the topic unworthy of debate, although we are always wary of repeatedly debating the same few items over and over. Most motions end up not making it to conference due to lack of time, because of technical or drafting issues or because Federal Policy Committee already working on a policy paper in that area. Those who submitted motions will have been given more detailed feedback. The committee also can only select from motions that have been submitted to us!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 16 Comments

Amendments and emergency motions for Brighton

Saturday was the final pre-Brighton meeting of Federal Conference Committee, (FCC) in which we selected the motion for the reserved Europe slot, amendments to be debated on all motions and emergency/topical issues for the all-member ballot. We also discussed:

  • One appeal against selection of a motion, which was rejected.
  • A request for an external (non-party) speaker to be allowed to put in a card to speak in the Europe debate, which was accepted.
  • 10 questions to party bodies, all in order.

For those less familiar with the process, here’s a short reminder of what can happen with an amendment, or part of an amendment: They can be accepted for debate and vote with a proposer and summator, they can be drafted in as if they were part of the original motion or they can be rejected. “Drafted in” amendments should be entirely non-controversial – updating a motion to reflect recent events, correcting or clarifying wording and so on.

For debated amendments, time is usually the biggest factor FCC has to contend with as we only have time to debate one amendment in a 45 minute slot – longer debates will allow for more amendments, although more than three amendments may be confusing no matter how long the debate is.

68 amendments were submitted, and we selected (either drafted in or for debate) 35 of them.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Motions selected for debate at Federal Conference in Brighton

 

Whilst UK politics is in barely-controlled chaos, the Liberal Democrat policy-making process rumbles quietly on – with Federal Conference Committee (FCC) meeting in London on Saturday to select motions for Autumn Conference. I have described the decision-making process in previous posts so I will not go on at length, except to repeat my usual caveat that non-selection of a motion does not mean FCC does not think the topic is suitable for debate. Many motions are dropped in round one because of drafting problems, constitutional issues, timing in the electoral/policy making cycle or because the issue is covered by another motion or working group.

More detailed feedback has been given to those who submitted motions, often including suggestions for improving motions. This is not something I will try to repeat here as I only have my own notes of the meeting to go on, and errors would be inevitable. The task of rapidly providing feedback requires a lot of effort and is split amongst a dozen members of FCC.

Posted in News | Tagged | 27 Comments

Federal Conference Committee report – Spring Conference amendments edition

Federal Conference Committee (FCC) met late yesterday afternoon to discuss the Amendments and Emergency Motions for York – the full text of accepted amendments will appear in Conference Daily. The usual caveat regarding descriptions of amendments applies. Amendments don’t have titles with them, so these are my own entirely unofficial summaries which may not be entirely accurate or complete. The list of accepted/rejected amendments is also based on my own notes as Spring conference is very intense and moves quickly – so I apologise in advance for any errors.
There are a few more options open to FCC compared to full motions – in particular, we can often “draft in” uncontroversial amendments so that they can be accepted without needing to spend time moving and voting on them. Conversely, we can be quite restricted in that it makes no sense to accept two overlapping amendments
Posted in Conference and News | Tagged | 3 Comments

Federal Conference Committee report

Saturday yet again saw Federal Conference Committee‘s agenda-setting meeting, this time for Spring conference in York – now less than 6 weeks away. As well as
worrying about which motions would be debated, the committee also received a welcome update on the success of the new Access Fund, discussed details of Friday night’s rally and proposals for a new “supporters” conference attendees category. This new scheme will allow members to vouch for friends and family of members to enable them to come to conference without needing to pay commercial rates – more details on that should be available soon.

Posted in Conference | 14 Comments

Zoe O’Connell’s Federal Conference Committee report

Federal Conference Committee met at Liberal Democrat HQ on Saturday 14th November for a meeting that had, despite press reports suggesting it was called purely to discuss special conference, been in the diary for some time.

Many topics were discussed, as the November meeting is one of the few where members get to kick about ideas and discuss new developments rather than focusing on motion and amendment selection. Even after a relatively short time on the committee, these feel to me as if they are standing agenda items – many FCC members are keen to keep up work on better use of funds to improve conference accessibility and financial inclusion, investigate remote voting, use of new technology, timing of conferences and so on. FCC rarely decides anything concrete at this point, but members are often tasked to go and consult with other groups such as, for example, talking to DEG and LDDA about some aspect of accessibility or funding that has arisen.

I generally refrain from reporting discussions-in-progress on these topics, as I feel it right that groups representing members who have most to gain (or lose) from changes should get the first say. There are three areas that deserve special mention, however:

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Amendments selected for Conference agenda

 

The final meeting of Federal Conference Committee prior to us all heading to Bournemouth took place this Saturday, where amendments were debated and selected. One big difference from the motions selection meeting is that debate is more rapid, with 73 amendments, 9 emergency/topic motions, 12 questions to federal bodies and one appeal to deal with.

When discussing motions the ultimate decision is a yes or a no, but with amendments there is also the option of accepting it as a drafting change. This only applies to simple and uncontroversial changes, often clarifications, and means it does not need to be voted on and can simply be published in Conference Daily. Drafting amendments should not be substantial, so even a non-controversial amendment to update the motion based on events since the agenda was published still needs to be formally voted on.

Posted in Conference and News | Tagged and | 7 Comments

Federal Conference Committee report

Photo by Jon BallFederal Conference Committee (FCC) met on Saturday to decide which of the 52 motions submitted by members should be debated when we go to Bournemouth later this year. I’m sure many of you will be scrolling down to the end of this post to find out the good news, but for those who are new to the party or two FCC machinations, I shall quickly explain what FCC does and how it arrived at it’s decision.

The full FCC meets six times a year, three per conference. The first meeting in the cycle is general business, discussing topics such as future venues, stewarding and security needs, design of speakers cards, overall allocation of time between policy/speeches/Q&As, registration rates and so on. Before anyone asks, I should point out that the location of future conferences is a closely guarded secret until officially announced as we don’t want commercial companies block-booking accommodation in advance, as this puts the price up for ordinary members.

Posted in Conference and News | 60 Comments

Opinion: The Burchill controversy – a mixed blessing for the trans community

I have followed recent mainstream media events unfolding around the transgender community with a mixture of excitement, anxiety and sadness.

Excitement, because it is rare that trans issues get coverage that isn’t designed to portray us as perpetrators of some hideous evil. Even though the stories started with biased coverage in the Guardian about a doctor under investigation by the General Medical Council, it turned into something more positive when the #TransDocFail hashtag lead to LibDem Councillor Sarah Brown discussing the issue on BBC Radio. Even the continuation of bad reporting had a silver lining, when Julie Burchill’s

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Opinion: The Four Boxes – why the student occupation should be denounced

There is a rather American saying which runs along the lines of “We have four boxes with which to defend our freedom: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury
box
, and the ammo box. In that order”.

It becomes a good way of putting Wednesday’s violence in context, particularly for those that are trying to argue some similarity between the suffragette movement and student fees. That movement had no choice but to resort to violent occupation because the very thing its members were campaigning for was access to the ballot box.

But rather than the entire NUS executive distancing themselves …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 120 Comments
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