Autumn conference 17-21 September 2011: registration now open

It’s time to start thinking about Conference again; at Lib Dem Voice we’re already putting together an exciting fringe programme for Birmingham, including the famous Lib Dem Blog of the Year Awards.

More details to follow soon, but meanwhile, make sure you register early for the best rates and a hassle-free application process.

Today’s email from the Conference Team:

Registration for Autumn Conference is now open. If you haven’t already booked your place, we’re offering fantastic early bird rates until Friday 10 June. Click here to register and for further details on prices and deadlines.

New this year

Whether you want to attend for the full week, just the weekend or just fancy visiting for a day, ALL registration categories are available to book online
now. Whilst on-site registration will be possible at conference, due to a more comprehensive application process, we cannot guarantee how long it will take. Advance, online registration is recommended to ensure you get the best rates and make the most of your time at conference. You’ll also receive your pass and any documentation in advance, so you can head straight to the conference centre when you arrive in Birmingham.

Call for motions

Would you like to help shape the conference agenda? Why not submit a motion for consideration by the Federal Conference Committee? Policy motions can be submitted by any local party or any ten conference reps – for more information on the process, visit our Democracy in Action pages. The deadline for submitting motions for autumn conference is 13.00 on 29 June 2011. Download a standard motions form here.

If you are drafting a motion, the FCC’s drafting advisory service can provide comments and advice (on drafting only, not on political content). Drafts must be submitted to the Policy Unit by 13.00 on 15 June 2011. This short guide on How to Write a Conference Motion may also be useful.


Don’t forget, accommodation in Birmingham will book up fast. Our partners at the Birmingham Convention Bureau are on hand to help you get the best deal in town. Book early to avoid disappointment.

We hope you will join us in Birmingham in September.

The Conference Team

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  • Richard Gadsden 1st Jun '11 - 6:02pm

    Worth mentioning that if you dual-registered for both conferences this year, then you should have an email from the conference office with a discount code so you can fill in all the security forms but not have to pay again.

  • When are we going to say “enough”? Letting the police “vet” who does and does not go to a political party’s conference is not far off the mark of a police state. This fits along nicely with the pre-crime arrests of anarchists before the royal wedding and the alleged Mid-East style “plain-clothes snatch squads” on the day of the wedding, as seen on YouTube:

    You promised to sort this crap out but you’ve stayed silent on civil liberties. For god’s sake, the Telegraph reported last week that the Tories are secretly planning to bring back ID Cards.

    For our sake, find your spines!

  • Sarah Brown 2nd Jun '11 - 2:56am

    In order to attend Conference we must submit our passport, driving licence or national insurance number to be “vetted” by the police. Furthermore, the registration page states that our personal information will be held on file (indefinitely?) and given to other police forces in the future.

    That might include the police force that arrests people for wearing makeup in public, presumably. No thanks.

    I didn’t campaign on a platform including civil liberties and minority rights in order to submit to this. I will be boycotting Conference as long as these intrusive and illiberal measures remain in place.

  • Do we now live in a Police State?

    I doubt if many Party Members will comply with this “demand” for our personal details and ID information. Not only is it unnecessary, it is undemocratic and hardly in the spirit of our own Constitution. I did not vote for a Police State and neither did anyone else. I think that the organisers at Cowley Street are going above and beyond their own remit – the West Midlands Police are not the ones to decide who will or will not attend OUR Conferences!

    If this is an example of Federal Executive’s and Federal Conference Committee’s security measures, I think they should be voted out – now!

    The most worrying factor in all this is that all our details are being RETAINED on the Lib Dem AND Police databases in perpetuity for future reference and to make it easier to register in the future – rubbish! – this is not legal, we are not criminals. This is an infringement of Human Rights and I suggest that all concerned re-think this or the Party HQ will find itself in the very embarrassing position of Members boycotting the Conference!

    I am appalled at this move on the part of our own Party – it’s a disgrace!

  • My apologies for my posting being completely in bold – this was not intentional. I had only intended certain phrases to be emboldened – I am not accustomed to such complicated HTML tags & attributes, merely the “b” and “i” options being solely for the parts between the “” and nothing else. These tags seem to me to be unnecessarily complex!

  • Wow, I never thought I’d see these requirements on an LD registration form. These requirements are certainly unconstitutional, if for no other reason than “The Standing Orders of the Conference shall provide for consultative sessions of the Conference at which any member of the Party may speak” – not “at which any member of the Party who has been approved by police vetting may speak”

    I am not prepared at this point to register for conference.

  • Geoff Payne 2nd Jun '11 - 3:08pm

    I have read all of the comments above and I understand the concerns that are raised. I ought to stress that the FCC remains in charge of conference and no-one else. There are, however, a number of reasons why FCC has had to take these decisions about security and it is something that we considered at great length. We fought for, and achieved, what we think is the bare minimum required to run conference safely, effectively and within the law. I know that Andrew Wiseman, the Chair of FCC, would like to respond in detail tomorrow (when he has access to email) to what has been said so please accept this as a holding response until then.
    Geoff Payne
    Vice-Chair, FCC

  • Alisdair McGregor 2nd Jun '11 - 3:51pm

    I am a local party voting rep. I am NOT filling these questions in, and if I cannot attend, speak & vote at conference there will be hell to pay.

  • Sarah Brown 2nd Jun '11 - 5:43pm

    Dear Geoff,

    I appreciate you probably feel like Vince Cable trying to justify caving on tuition fees right now, but we are looking at a completely fundamental issue here – one of the police having the power of veto over the right of political parties to associate and engage in developing policy.

    I don’t trust the police with my personal details. I have good reasons not to trust them. I have something to hide. I am not a criminal. I am an elected representative of the people, but I cannot and will not attend Conference as anything other than a protestor under these conditions.

    That the police have the power to restrict the freedom of political parties to associate is intolerable, and exactly the sort of situation we should be using our position in government to end. Instead we have caved in on what should be a defining issue for our party. I don’t care what the excuses are – we should have fought this to the bitter end.

    Today I am ashamed to be a Liberal Democrat. Perhaps this isn’t the party I thought it was.

  • Was the data retention and sharing even after the conference is over essential for conference to run “safely, effectively and within the law”? Was the lack of right of appeal essential?

  • Krissie Pearse 2nd Jun '11 - 9:16pm

    I think this conference needs a motion on the rollback of police powers (and their misuse), freedom to protest and the reaffirmation of the commitment to civil liberty.

    … That’s if enough Liberal Democrats that believe in civil liberty actually attend this conference to pass such a motion. Surely there are more than a few that still believe in this core value? If not, I dare say the conference will be a roaring success. If there are, it looks like it’ll be half empty – which is a shame. Such a motion would show just who the Liberal Democrats actually are. Instead, it seems the party (or at least a large part of it) are going the authoritarian way of Labour and the Tories… and what makes it different from the other two then!?

  • Chris Nelson 2nd Jun '11 - 10:33pm

    I like others am very disappointed by Federal Conference Committee’s decision of this matter and feel that their willingness to cave in to the gung-ho demands of West Midlands Police to be extremely disappointing.

    I thank Geoff Payne, as an FCC member, for giving a reply on this thread, and I am aware that defending this decision may not be easy for you. Geoff claimed, however, that these procedures are the “minimum required to comply with the law”. As you are a practising lawyer I will trust that you are not using this phrase in a cavalier fashion – but there is, to my knowledge, no law that bans political parties from holding party conferences without having full, anonymised, police background checks on the attendees first. (There is, however, a law in the form of the Human Rights Act which protects our right to freedom of assembly!)

    Can Geoff, or another member of FCC, please explain:
    (a) Whether the Police have actually told them that these intrusive background checks are legally required;
    (b) If so, exactly what is the provision of law that applies in this case?
    (c) And how, exactly, does the FCC consider that it has the authority under the Party of to override the rights of elected members of Conference, as contained in the Party Constitution?

    And IF there is a statute on the books that requires us to this – then, given that we are in Government, how about we get a bloody move on and change it?

  • Clare Blair 3rd Jun '11 - 8:58am

    This is absolutely appalling and I have read Geoff Payne’s comments on here and the email he sent out which makes clear that the FCC consulted not at all with the wider party membershikp and did indeed just roll over and accept the police view.

    Geoff, what total nonsense to say this makes us comply with the law. Are you saying previous conferences have been held illegally? What you actually mean is that this makes us comply with West Midlands Police – something altogether different.

    Clearly the FCC does not remain in charge of conferebce when the police can say who attends or not and what nonsense also just to say, as Geoff did in his email:
    “There is a very real prospect that no-one will have any issues thrown up so far as we are concerned. If there are, then there is a procedure to deal with it and we will be pushing as much as we can to ensure that those who are democratically elected are able to take part.”

    So, firstly we are ignoring the principle of unfettered access for party members and secondly we are restricting fighting for members only to actual conference delegates, and thirdly we are not even insisting but only ‘pushing’. Gosh, yes I can see how in charge the FCC is.

    I woudl liike to know why this was simply announced when registration opened rather than brought to party members as a problem and to allow all members to discuss and agree a way forward. It smacks of ramming it through and just hoping for the best.

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