Autumn Conference will be all at sea

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Lib Dems in Torquay have alerted us to the fact that a number of cruise ships have been anchored off shore since the first lockdown. Apparently long-term docking fees at the usual cruise ports are unaffordable for many cruise lines, and in any case there are simply not enough berths available worldwide for all the ships.

Some careful research and negotiation have resulted in the proposal that is being considered seriously by the Federal Conference Committee – that Autumn Conference this year should be held in one of those underused ships.  The resources are perfect on the ship which offers a large theatre that could serve as an auditorium, several other function rooms for fringe meetings, and plenty of bars. What is more, accommodation and restaurants are on site and will be included in the registration fee. If the weather is fine then members will be able to use the swimming pool.

To counter the perception that Autumn Conferences are always based on the South Coast the ship will spend the four days cruising around the British Isles, stopping to pick up Alistair Carmichael in Orkney.

The cruise ship option comes with some particular opportunities and challenges for a “hybrid” conference, with some members able to connect remotely via the Hopin platform. Data connectivity is straightforward enough but movement of the ship on the water may cause incoming and outgoing speeches to speed up and slow down due to the Doppler effect.

There will be some additional benefits on offer on the ship. The casino will be open 24 hours a day, but only to those who did not sign the petition against FOBTs. The midnight chocolate buffet will be available every night at the specific request of Mark Pack.

Glee Club will take place in a real theatre with the ship’s resident dancers and acrobats providing much needed relief. We understand that negotiations to secure ‘The Cruise’ star Jane Macdonald to do a turn are going well.

Couples who wish to marry at sea will be able to do so by arrangement with the Captain, who has given special authority to the Party Leader to act as celebrant. Tim Farron will be authorised to carry out baby-naming ceremonies, should there be a demand.

The cruise line (which we are not at liberty to identify at present) insists that the usual dress code for cruises must be adhered to. That means that jeans or shorts may not be worn for dinner in the evening. On the final night formal wear will be expected – tuxedo for the men and evening dress for the women, or any combination thereof.

Members of the FCC will all be required to undergo lifeguard training and one of them will always be on duty as a pool aide during daylight hours. During the Leader’s speech, which will be given from the bridge, Geoff Payne will manage a team of six pool aides carefully positioned to deal with any over exuberant members.

We hope that all members will find this an attractive option for Autumn Conference this year. The slump in the cruise industry means that the registration fee can be kept to a very reasonable £1500 per member, including accommodation and food.


* Opra Foill joined the party exactly one year ago today.

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This entry was posted in Conference and News.


  • Helen Dudden 1st Apr '21 - 8:58am


  • Excellent 🙂

  • Very good April Fools

  • Simon Gamble 1st Apr '21 - 9:17am

    It could almost be seen as a reminder of those early multi-venue SDP conferences and the famous train.

  • Geoff Payne 1st Apr '21 - 9:50am

    Who said it was an April Fool? !!

  • Helen Dudden 1st Apr '21 - 10:05am

    It could be a good idea for the temporary home of Parliament.

  • can the cruise take in San Serriffe?

  • @Helen Dudden – what could possibly go wrong?

  • Richard Whelan 1st Apr '21 - 10:10am

    Will it be wheelchair accessible then?

  • David Hewitt 1st Apr '21 - 10:11am

    The possibilities are endless. It could cruise round the regions and counties of the U.K. taking in day passengers.

    And as for relocating the Houses of Parliament maybe a cruise to the Artic might be appropriate.

    Happy April Fools Day.

  • Duncan Brack 1st Apr '21 - 10:25am

    Session chairs will allow extra time for speeches interrupted by the speaker throwing up during episodes of bad weather.

  • Jacqueline Bell 1st Apr '21 - 10:35am

    I trust that the ship will call in at Leith to collect our MSPs and Scottish members. I understand that the ship is called Sunshine on Leith.

  • Yeovil Yokel 1st Apr '21 - 10:36am

    Dear old Paddy would have joined conference by abseiling down from a Navy Lynx.

  • Joseph Gerald Bourke 1st Apr '21 - 10:39am

    Could be quite nostalgic for those that used to listen to Radio Caroline in their youth. Broadcasting the LibDem conference from a pirate radio station offshore is surely a great wheeze as a way to engage a younger audience.

  • Adrian Sanders 1st Apr '21 - 10:42am

    There’s always an element of truth in a good story.

  • Yeovil Yokel 1st Apr '21 - 10:45am

    Ask the ship’s owners if “Bollocks to Brexit” can temporarily be painted in 50 foot high lettering on the hull.

  • And on another issue. Lib dem voice have agreed to have a full discussion on what is going on at Batley Grammar school. Proper liberals.

  • @Adrian Sanders – of course… Though I have no idea why anyone would want to go on a cruise ship now.

  • @Richard Whelan – would you like us to arrange a helicopter transfer?

  • Duncan Brack 1st Apr '21 - 1:16pm

    The singing of Lib Dem sea shanties will be compulsory at the end of each day – perhaps something like this (tune: Wellerman):

    There once was a leader named Ed Davey
    Who promised us a revived party
    A fair, a caring, and green country
    That’s what he told us to say (huh)

    Soon may the voters return
    To bring Lib Dems the success we earn
    One day, when the councils are won
    We’ll know our party’s back

    (Feel free to add more verses …)

  • Yeovil Yokel 1st Apr '21 - 1:16pm

    A party political conference at sea? I’m not sure this is what Ed Davey meant by promoting offshore wind.

  • Roger Roberts 1st Apr '21 - 1:44pm

    It could be an April 1 joke suggestion,.Instead of spending millions or even billions moving the Parliament to York until the westminster Parliament is rebuilt or in all seriousness floating a Cruise Ship in the Thames . I think Admiral West has already launched the idea. Let’s use the money that would be saved for a much more worthy purpose.

  • Not such a silly idea, cruises have been operating in the Med since last August with over 50,000 passengers carried. The protocols put in place have worked exceptional well.

  • Love it! A cruiseference on a floating Petri dish. Well done for the best April fool of the day (so far).

  • Great April Fool post! Fun it would certainly be!

  • Aside from the April Foolery (very good by the way) the P&O Cruise ship ‘Azura’ is berthed at North Shields for the foreseeable future. Any chance?

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