Autumn Conference 2013 to be held in Glasgow

The Scotsman proudly announces that the Liberal Democrats are taking their Federal Conference to Glasgow in autumn 2013.

Glasgow is in line for a £12 million boost as the Liberal Democrats announced they will hold next year’s autumn party conference in the city.

It will be the first time Scotland has hosted a national Lib Dem conference for over a decade and the event will also be the largest conference to be held in the city since 2004, with around 7,000 delegates expected to attend from across the UK.

The event is in September 2013 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre which beat UK-wide competition to host the five-day event.

Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “I’m delighted that we are taking our autumn conference to Glasgow, particularly at such an important time in Scotland’s and the UK’s history.

“Our party has always led the way in campaigning for devolution and I hope coming to Glasgow will remind Scots that we are committed to continuing that process and securing their future as part of the UK.”

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats applauded the decision.

“Glasgow is a vibrant and welcoming city and the SECC is a great venue. This is a great opportunity for us to get our message out that the Liberal Democrats are working hard in government on the side of hard-working people,” he said.

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  • Do we have any dates yet?

  • Tom Papworth 5th Apr '12 - 11:14am

    I realise that Conference likes to tour the country like a medieval king, but I wonder to what extent it affects take-up.

    How well attended was Gateshead? How does that compare with recent conferences in more central (or, dare-I-say, southern) locations?

    That being said, Glasgow is probably cheaper and easier to get to than Gateshead, and it’s a great town.

  • Nigel Ashton 5th Apr '12 - 11:16am

    Any news on the venue for the Spring 2013 Conference?

  • Richard Dean 5th Apr '12 - 2:31pm

    Perhaps a web-based conference could be greener? At £12 million for 7000 delegates, plus travel costs, that’s about £1500 per delegate – an awful lot of cash per delegate. Which could perhaps be used in other ways. Is it cost-effective?

  • Steve Bradley 5th Apr '12 - 3:24pm

    Tom Papworth : I know anecdotally of quite a few regular conference goers who chose not to go to Gateshead. However – a number of variables seemed to combine in their decisions. The main one’s being :

    1) Distance of travel (particularly from south-west)
    2) Cost of travel (not cheap on train).
    3) The fact it was only a weekend.

    I suspect numbers 1 and 2 above will hit likely attendance at a Glasgow conference, with the fact it’s a 5-day Autumn one easing some of those concerns for some people. But I would be very surprised if we brought the quoted 7,000 people to Glasgow for the event.

    Also -in my experience Glasgow is a lot harder to get to than Newcastle-Gateshead, and the train journey is a lot longer (torturously so, the last time I took it). I fear a lot of people will take the Easyjet option from the south-east to get there.

    Hopefully the party will investigate the Green Lib Dem suggestion of regional coaches to take people there and back at a reasonable price.

  • Andrew Suffield 5th Apr '12 - 5:43pm

    I realise that Conference likes to tour the country like a medieval king, but I wonder to what extent it affects take-up.

    How well attended was Gateshead? How does that compare with recent conferences in more central (or, dare-I-say, southern) locations?

    This is actually part of the point of touring. If it was in the south every time, then people from Scotland and the north wouldn’t attend very much. Moving it around means everybody gets a chance.

  • I find it quite ironic that when the Conference comes to Scotland, members from the South of England come up with the same problems of getting to it as we have to face every year!

    FWIW, it’s actually easy to get to Glasgow from the South East. The journey up the West Coast can be tortuous, but if you use the East Coast line via Edinburgh it’s not so bad. Add into the fact that there are direct buses and – yes – even the hated Easyjet and Ryanair, and it’s actually easier for most people to get to than, say, Harrogate or Brighton (which – for me coming by train from Scotland – means crossing London by Underground as well as changing trains.)

    One of my first memories of a conference was attending the Liberal Assembly in Dundee in about 1985/86 (can’t remember the exact year.) I remember coming out of the Conference and overhearing some conversations between delegates along the lines of “I’m amazed you made it here!” and “Yes, I got here by train, but it was a real struggle” (despite Dundee being on the east coast main line from London) and also “You mean you managed to drive all the way?!” Even then, at the tender age of about 12 or 13, I found it quite patronising – and it does reflect the view of many in Scotland that the South of England isn’t interested in us at all.

    Finally, remember the Independence referendum will be held in 2014. I suspect this is the biggest reason for having the Conference in Scotland that year – wouldn’t surprise me if both the Tories and Labour did too!

  • Simon McGrath 5th Apr '12 - 10:26pm

    I remember Dundee. There was a special train hired by the Party from London. It was a very very long way , and much further from people from the S West

  • David Matthewman 6th Apr '12 - 8:11am

    *looks at a map of our MPs*

    Yes, clearly there are no Liberal Democrats in Scotland, so it would be a ridiculous place to hold it.

  • @David – I know. It’s really stupid having it in a place which is home to 20% of the Parliamentary Party and 40% of our Cabinet ministers, isn’t it? Those damned Scots, they have far too much influence on our party….


  • I went to the last Glasgow Conference and have suggested a return there in conference feedback forms ever since. We can only be a party of the whole UK if we know the whole island, what better way than to ensure our delegates have some take on the different parts by having at least visited. I shall be taking a couple of extra days there to do the Charles Rennie Macintosh tour I couldn’t manage last time.

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