Category Archives: Conference

Liberal Democrat Voice at Conference

On Lib Dem Voice: Reportage | Live Twitter Stream | Contribute
On the official party website: Conference home
Watch Live on BBC Parliament

A changing of the guard at Federal Conference Committee

Geoff Payne has been elected as the new Chair of Federal Conference Committee (FCC). Geoff served as Vice-Chair of the committee for eight years and was responsible for chairs’ training, access arrangements and the initial selection of venues and setting of registration rates. He was also a long-standing member of the Federal Policy Committee.

The election for chair followed the decision of long-serving former chair, Andrew Wiseman, to step down. Andrew was a highly popular chair of FCC and steered party conference through a period of great change including the coalition years. Everyone on FCC has paid tribute to …

Also posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged , , , and | 10 Comments

Embracing Diversity

In September 2017 I wrote an article for Libdemvoice called Time to Stand and Stare. The basic message of my piece was that it is important to take time for quiet contemplation to ensure the action we do then take is well considered and hopefully therefore more effective.

This approach is well summed up by this quote from the Quaker John Wilhelm Rowntree (1868 – 1905);

In the noisy rush of modern life we need periods of quiet when the soul may feed in peace on that which shall nourish it for action

It was Wilhelm’s inspiration that was behind the founding …

Tagged and | Leave a comment

Jess Insall’s clarion call for gender-neutral school uniforms

Given that there has been some comment about this policy proposal in the media and in some Liberal Democrat circles, it seemed like a good idea to publish Jess’s speech to Party Conference this weekend by way of answering some of the sceptics…

Thank you Chair, thank you Conference.

I am bursting for positive change. As a feminist, as an LGBTQ+ rights activist, and as a liberal democrat.

And we are making so many positive changes, but our schools are being caught short. There is one problem that causes so much harm, but is so

Also posted in Party policy and internal matters | Tagged and | 11 Comments

What’s on at Conference today? The debates and speeches

Here’s your rundown of what’s on in the hall today.

You can watch it all on the Autumn Conference Live Stream here and follow the #ldconf tag on Twitter. Keep an eye on the Liberal Democrat Facebook page, too, for some real treats.

09:00-09:10 Report, Federal Appeals Panel
09:10-10:00 Report, Parliamentary Parties – your chance to question MPs, our MEP and Lords about their activities
10:00-10:45 Policy Motion: Armed Forces personnel – Recruitment, retention and welfare
10:45-12:30 Policy Motion on Europe after Conference voted overwhelmingly (377-97) to suspend standing orders to do so. Vince pretty much made his speech in favour of the amendment at the rally last night.
12:30-12:50 Speech: Jo Swinson MP

12:50-14:10 Lunch

Tagged | 2 Comments

What’s on at Conference today? The debates and speeches

09.00–09.05 Opening of Conference by Baroness Brinton
09:05-09:15 Report: Federal Conference Committee – the one you need to be in to vote for the suspension of standing orders to discuss the Europe motion
09:15-09:25 Report: federal Policy Committee
09.25–10.10 Policy motion: Learning to Communicate in English
10.10–11.40 Consultative session: Party Strategy Consultation
11.40–12.30 Policy motion: The Paris Agreement and uK Climate Change Policy
12.30–12.50 Speech by Layla Moran MP

12.50–14.10 Lunch

Tagged | Leave a comment

No silver bullet for our Lib Dem doldrums

While picking over the bones of our, what could charitably be called, ‘middling’, general election campaign, many Lib Dems have called on the party to develop a new identity of some kind. A single issue that we can define ourselves with. I respectfully think that such an approach is unlikely to lead to the electoral promised-land that some have hoped for.

I am yet to be convinced that there is such an issue, but even assuming one exists that the public likes, there is an underlying paucity at heart of the party in terms of councillors, vote share, seats and public trust. A new identity may help to address some of these, but realistically, much of our resurrection is only going to be based upon time, rebuilding our local base and effort.

We have constructed our parliamentary success historically upon the bedrock of strong and local campaigns.  Boiling down from national context to seat-by-seat contests, often with victories instigated at council level and then translated upwards. Not only did it help to breach out credibility gap with the public (the idea that we couldn’t win somewhere), but it also compensated for our relative lack of party profile and money, as compared to Labour and the Conservatives. 

Also posted in Op-eds | 53 Comments

Reaching out to the ‘Left Behind’: what policies should we put first?

The pitch which the Leave campaign successfully made to the poorest 10% of UK citizens in last June’s EU Referendum was that their problems of low pay, insecure jobs and waiting lists for affordable housing were all due to competition from immigrants, and would be eased by leaving the EU. The budget, with little on social housing and less on funds for schools or other public services in deprived areas, has made their situation worse, rather than better. Labour has been hesitating about how far to buy into their grievances about immigrants. How should Liberal Democrats respond …

35 Comments

Join @timfarron for Euro campaign photos at conference

I’m really proud to be the Liberal Democrats’ Brexit Spokesman for the South East.  Working with Nick Clegg, our national Brexit spokesman, to hold the government to account and fight for the true national interest could not be more important.

One of the most successfully ways to communicate a message is visually. Pictures speak loudly.

I would like to mention two opportunities, if you are coming to party conference this weekend, to join photos that you can use at a local level.

First, we know that hard Brexit is putting our future under the axe. No-one voted for the Brexit axe to fall on family …

Also posted in Europe / International, Europe Referendum and Events | Leave a comment

Liberal Democrat spring conference agenda published

The agenda for the Liberal Democrat spring conference in York 17-19th March is now available here.

We already knew the topics to be covered from Zoe O’Connell’s report three weeks ago, but this is the first chance for most members of the party to see the full texts to be debated and consider proposing amendments.

Here’s my rapid summary of some key points (and I have decoded some of the titles):

F4 Sex work Decriminalise sex work as the best way to reduce harm from it and to …

11 Comments

Homelessness in 2016 – a fringe event in Brighton and how you can help

Homelessness FringeFollowing Saturday’s successful motion on tackling homelessness, London Liberal Democrats hosted a fringe event on homelessness in 2016. Despite being up against both Tim Farron and Nick Clegg fringes, the room was packed and it was standing room only at the back!
Alice Ashcroft from Crisis kicked off the debate by outline what is happening in Parliament, particularly focusing on the Homelessness Reduction Bill, more details of which are below. Councillor Jayne McCoy then outlined the problems local government faces when dealing with homelessness especially when facing budget cuts from the Government.
Simon Grainge then described the work of Emmaus which has 28 communities across the UK housing over 750 people. Emmaus believes overcoming homelessness means more than a roof over your head. That’s why Emmaus supports people to work their way out of homelessness, providing meaningful work as well a stable home for as long as someone needs it. Emmaus also helps the state and society as for every £1 spent with Emmaus, there is an £11 return on investment, with social, environmental and economic benefits.
Also posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Conference debates open thread: Tuesday 20th September 2016

Whether you are physically in Brighton or are following what is happening from home, this is your place to talk about the public face of the Conference – in other words, all the debates and speeches that are going on in the main auditorium.  Please use the comments below to add your reports on policy and constitutional debates or to draw readers’ attention to ones in the pipeline.

You can read the agenda in full, including the text of amendments, here.

We will be running a similar thread each day, so please confine your comments today to what is actually happening today, the last day of this year’s event.

We will also be running a thread each day on fringes, so use that one for anything going on outside the main show.

So what is happening today at Conference?

Tagged | 16 Comments

#LibDemDisco is splattered all over the tabloids

The 2016 #libdemdisco has been liberally covered in the tabloids.

The Daily Mail went with “Were there points for the best dad dancing? Lib Dem grandees dance the night away at bizarre competitive DISCO”. They described the disco as a “Booze-fuelled late night event” and said:

Tagged | 6 Comments

Lib Dems overwhelmingly back referendum on Brexit deal

The Lib Dems are so far the only party to call for a referendum on the eventual Brexit deal. Conference overwhelmingly backed a motion lodged by the Federal Policy Committee.

Nick Clegg spoke in the debate and got a standing ovation, saying that

He got a standing ovation – even from some people who have spent the last six years heavily criticising him. Is the party learning to love its former leader again? To Nick’s credit, he immediately signalled to people to sit down so the debate could continue.

The motion also set out nine priorities (outlined below) for the Brexit negotiations, including securing Britain’s membership of the Single Market, and called for MPs to have a vote on the Government’s negotiating mandate before Article 50 is triggered.

Ming Campbell also spoke, joking that former leaders were like London buses – you can never get one when you want one but then two turn up at once.

Also posted in News | Tagged and | 20 Comments

On Iain Dale’s Top 50 Liberal Democrats list

Over the weekend, political blogger and LBC presenter Iain Dale unveiled his list of Top Liberal Democrats in 2016.  It is generally viewed with amusement by conference-goers. While it may give people bragging rights over certain of their colleagues, it is fairly arbitrary in nature.

I was particularly happy to see some of the most energetic campaigners our party has make it on to the list. Daisy Benson has been a massive factor in galvanising the Lib Dem Newbies into quite a force within the party. Former Presidential candidate and now PPC for St Albans Daisy Cooper is another welcome addition. What is absolutely astounding, though, is that Elains Bagshaw, who has made a name for herself with her incredible campaigning in Tower Hamlets, isn’t there.

Annoyingly, Willie Rennie has leapfrogged Kirsty Williams. He has certainly had a good year with his vibrant and bright election campaign, but Kirsty, for goodness sake, is a Cabinet Minister. Along with Lib Dem Council leaders, she has much more actual power than just about anyone else. 

Also posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Deputy Leader Drama

A good deal of this Conference is taken up with debating the party’s Governance Review. Changes are being made to make the party’s structure more accountable, transparent and strategic. This was a key plank of Sal Brinton’s presidential campaign in 2014.

Thankfully, all the constitutional stuff has been split up and is being discussed in smaller slots at the end of each day.

Yesterday afternoon, we debated proposals to elect a Deputy Leader. This came out of a constitutional amendment last year which was referred back to the Governance Review. In the wake of an election result leaving us with eight white make MPs, there seemed to be a desire for a Deputy Leader from an under-represented group.

A subsequent consultation was inconclusive as to whether members wanted a deputy leader elected by the membership or not. Conference was given the opportunity to choose between two options – one for a deputy leader elected by the members on a joint ticket with the leader. The rationale behind that was heavily influenced by watching the relationship between Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson play out.

Tagged , and | 7 Comments

What party members think about a universal basic income and benefits sanctions

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 741 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

The social security debate at Conference this afternoon will be dominated by two major arguments. George Potter recommended rejection of the motion as a whole because it chose not to endorse a universal basic income and because it supports the use, albeit much restricted, of sanctions. Supporters of the UBI may well support an amendment calling for a negative income tax from Calderdale while an amendment signed by members opposes the use of benefits sanctions in any circumstances. We asked our members what they thought of the idea of UBI and sanctions.

Are you in favour of a universal basic income?

Yes 60.32%

No  39.68%

Here are some of the comments made:

It would be a clear, distinct policy and place the Party firmly on the “Left” (which, as Charles Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown proved) is the only place it can survive.

The nature of work is changing and society needs to catch up. The markets can no longer be a funnel for the rich to build up their wealth. Redistribution needs to be far more aggressive.

No. It is fundementally wrong as it discriminates against the most vulnerable in society. Common denominators always end up being the lowest.

Also posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged , and | 27 Comments

Conference debates open thread: Monday 19th September 2016

Whether you are physically in Brighton or are following what is happening from home, this is your place to talk about the public face of the Conference – in other words, all the debates and speeches that are going on in the main auditorium.  Please use the comments below to add your reports on policy and constitutional debates or to draw readers’ attention to ones in the pipeline.

You can read the agenda in full, including the text of amendments, here.

We will be running a similar thread each day, so please confine your comments today to what is actually happening today. Tomorrow’s instalment will appear at 7.30am.

We will also be running a thread each day on fringes, so use that one for anything going on outside the main show.

So what is happening today at Conference?

Tagged | Leave a comment

Conference debates open thread: Sunday 18th September 2016

Whether you are physically in Brighton or are following what is happening from home, this is your place to talk about the public face of the Conference – in other words, all the debates and speeches that are going on in the main auditorium.  Please use the comments below to add your reports on policy and constitutional debates or to draw readers’ attention to ones in the pipeline.

You can read the agenda in full, including the text of amendments, here.

We will be running a similar thread each day, so please confine your comments today to what is actually happening today. Tomorrow’s instalment will appear at 7.30am.

We will also be running a thread each day on fringes, so use that one for anything going on outside the main show.

So what is happening today at Conference?

Tagged | Leave a comment

How to watch the conference live

Yesterday, Caron ran down eight ways to follow the Brighton conference. As she mentioned, BBC Parliament will be carrying the conference on Monday and Tuesday. You can also watch the live stream on the party’s website here (albeit that the audio and video currently seems a bit out of sync):


Tagged | 3 Comments

Introducing….the #LDConf Scavenger Hunt

What is Conference without a bit of mischief?

Yes, there are serious debates, but we have to have a bit of fun as well.

This is why we’ve come up with a diversion that will help you get round Conference and meet lots of interesting people.

That’s right. Your mission, dear reader, should you choose to accept it, is to collect as many of the following items as possible during Conference. The first person to prove that they have them all will win a special LDV prize. To stake your claim to the prize, email me on [email protected] on Tuesday morning before 11am. …

Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Should sex workers or their clients be criminalised? What Lib Dem members think

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 741 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

This lunchtime, two consultation sessions will take place on two policy areas. Full debates on these subjects will take place at Spring Conference in York.

I remember way back in 1992, around Black Wednesday, we were the first national party to debate sex work. We are now in the process of updating our policy to take account of recent evidence and international practice.

Two controversial aspects of this are whether sex workers or their clients should be criminalised. There have been several attempts to change the law in Scotland to criminalise sex workers’ clients but these have so far been defeated.

We asked what our members thought. They were pretty clear.

Do you support the decriminalisation of sex work?

Yes: 92.04%

No:    7.96%

A selection of comments:

I support the decriminalisation of the individual sex workers. But the organised trade in sex, and exploitation of indivuals, should be criminalised further.

There must be protection from trafficking and abuse and coercion. But there are people, I suspect, who would find offering sex as an acceptable economic activity. I deplore the whole business and would hate any of my family to be involved but personal freedom is essential.

I would like to see laws to protect sex workers against exploitation and abusive clients. It is difficult to do that while sex work itself is a criminal offence.

Should clients of sex workers be criminalised?

Also posted in LDV Members poll | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Conference debates open thread: Saturday 17th September 2016

Whether you are physically in Brighton or are following what is happening from home, this is your place to talk about the public face of the Conference – in other words, all the debates and speeches that are going on in the main auditorium.  Please use the comments below to add your reports on policy and constitutional debates or to draw readers’ attention to ones in the pipeline.

You can read the agenda in full, including the text of amendments, here.

We will be running a similar thread each day, so please confine your comments today to what is actually happening today. Tomorrow’s instalment will appear at 7.30am.

We will also be running a thread each day on fringes, so use that one for anything going on outside the main show.

So what is happening today at Conference?

Tagged | Leave a comment

Eight ways to follow what’s going on at #ldconf in Brighton

Disco 2014Whether you are in Brighton or not, you can still keep in touch with what’s going on at Conference in a variety of different ways.

Obviously, you can follow the gossip, mischief, analysis and the stuff they won’t put on the party website on here.

The party is producing a daily round up email. Sign up for it here.

Follow the #ldconf hashtag on Twitter.

For a record of all the decisions passed as they happen, follow the Live Blog on the party website.

If you suddenly find that you have some free time and can go to Conference, you can still register online here.

Also posted in News | Tagged | 1 Comment

Conference Countdown: Agenda 2020: The final stage

Agenda 2020 paperSunday morning at Brighton will see one of the most important debates at conference. It probably won’t be terribly controversial (though one never knows …), but it is party members’ chance to say what they think – not about specific policies the party should adopt, but about what the party stands for: its basic philosophy.

This is the final stage in the Federal Policy Committee’s ‘Agenda 2020’ process, which has featured many times before in the pages of Lib Dem Voice. Over the past year we have published two consultation papers, organised two consultative sessions at federal conferences, commissioned a set of essays and organised an essay competition within the party (all available at http://www.libdems.org.uk/agenda2020).

The outcome of all this is the policy paper The Opportunity to Succeed, the Power to Change. Its first purpose is to explain the basic underlying beliefs of the party and what, in broad terms, is the point of us. So the first main chapter sets out the case for the Liberal Democrats – the essence of what we are trying to do and why it matters. We’ve phrased this round two objectives: giving people the opportunity to succeed, and enabling them to take the power to grasp those opportunities. Too many people in today’s Britain lack the opportunity to live their lives as they want, and too many people feel powerless in the face of change.

Tagged and | Leave a comment

Conference Countdown 2016: Tackling global corruption should be a core Liberal campaign

On April 3 2016, just under 12 million documents were leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca containing financial details on over 200,000 offshore companies. While the bulk of our nation’s media coverage was of David Cameron’s family investment fund – Blairmore Holdings – and the former Prime Minister of Iceland’s resignation, most news outlets underplayed the real significance of the investigation: the details of shell companies used to profit from criminal activity and how the lack of transparency in opaque jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles or Bahamas provides cover for organisations involved in people trafficking, narcotics, selling arms to despotic regimes and terrorism.

On Saturday, Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats are moving a motion demanding that the UK calls time on the lack of progress in our overseas territories and sets a deadline for the implementation of centralised registers which make the beneficial ownership of companies available both to relevant authorities and to the public.

The UK has a strong record in this area: Vince Cable drove forward the development of legislation for Companies House to implement a register of Persons of Significant Control during the coalition and the register is now starting to be filled with statements of beneficial ownership. It is due for completion in June 2017.

Also posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 8 Comments

Conference Countdown 2016: Caron’s guide to the craziness of Conference – updated for Brighton 2016

Credit: Freefoto.com Credit: Freefoto.com

Federal Conference is probably the best fun that you will ever have in your life. You will thoroughly enjoy every exhausting moment. If you’re new, it can be a bit overwhelming until you get used to the sensory overload. I had a long break from going to them and when I returned, in 2011, I spent the first day wandering round in a state of wide-eyed amazement,  like a child in a toy shop.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d throw together a fairly random list of tips and hints for getting the best out of the annual cornucopia of Liberal Democracy. If you have any other Conference survival tips, let me know.

1. Plan your days

The Conference day starts with breakfast fringes as early as 7 and goes on until the small hours. There’s a comprehensive training programme alongside the debates in the hall. There are spokespeople Q & As. There are competing fringe choices to be made, even though the overall selection has reduced in recent years.  You can guarantee that you will never be bored and that several things you want to see will be on at the same time. If you want to go to the big events like the Matt Forde interview with Tim Farron or the fringe meeting on the book advocating a progressive alliance with Caroline Lucas and Lisa Nandy or the Guardian’s chat with Nick Clegg, you are best advised to get there early because they fill up quickly.

Be aware as well that you can eat quite well for free by choosing the right fringe meetings – look for the refreshments symbol in the directory.

Believe me, it’s much easier if you sort out your diary in advance. The best laid plans will always be subject to a better offer or meeting someone you haven’t seen for years randomly in a corridor, but it’s best to at least try to get some order into the proceedings. The Conference App is a real help for this. You can download it from whichever App store you use on your phone. It allows you to add events to your schedule and is pretty flexible. 

Also posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 4 Comments

Conference Countdown 2016: Five things to do this weekend to prepare for Conference

This time next week, many of us will be heading down to Conference in Brighton. I won’t be as I have the particular joy of the 6:25 am flight from Edinburgh to look forward to on Saturday morning.

Here are some top tips for pre-conference preparation which will help you get the best out of the event. Once you are in the fast moving frenzy of our four days in Brighton, it’s difficult to find the space to take stock and plan. Putting the time in now to work out what you want to do will pay dividends.

So, here are a few things you can do this weekend to make sure you are properly prepared. In no particular order…

Get your ticket for the Lib Dem Disco

Cambridge Lib Dems have captured the Saturday evening conference market with their annual disco. It is hilarious, with guest DJs competing against each other. Last year Jo Swinson triumphed in spectacular style. Buzzfeed were there to report it all and take video, so don’t be under any misapprehension that what happens at Lib Dem Disco stays at Lib Dem Disco.

I came second to Alistair Carmichael in the DJ competition 2 years ago. I went slightly off-message with the Disco theme as we were in Scotland. I thought it might be a really good idea to get lots of people who may have had the odd wee drink doing the Gay Gordons at 11 o’clock at night. When I suggested this to the organisers, they replied: “Your proposal for carnage is appealing.”

In the end it was pretty civilised and, thanks to Paul Walter, there is video.

Also posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

Councillors: Conference is for you too!

2015 policy pitch autumn conference by Paul WalterThe vast majority of Liberal Democrat councillors don’t go to conference. There are good reasons, of course: locations, cost, time (especially sudden by-elections!). But there are always overwhelmingly good reasons to attend.

In the first place it is always amazing just how many colleagues from neighbouring authorities you come across and with whom you can share ideas, problems and even gossip. You may even come across members of your own council with whom perhaps you need to spend more time on business not entirely dictated by council officers.

Naturally, the Conference agenda and the fringe programme provide the main focus. This year’s Autumn Conference includes motions on homelessness (F9), parent governors (F20), as well as a question and answer session on Education (F19), which are of obvious interest to councillors. Less obvious are the various constitutional amendments, which, among other things, will secure councillor influence on key party bodies such as the new Federal Board and the Campaigns Committee. Dull, maybe, but eminently worthy.

Also posted in News | 1 Comment

Liberal Democrat Federal Conference: outline agenda published

The outline agenda for Federal Conference in Brighton this September has just been published here, with the full agenda to follow mid-August.

Highlights include a slot reserved to debate Europe with an extended deadline for a motion and amendments so that we may consider something topical. Federal Conference committee was concerned that the motions proposed in July might have been overtaken by events by September.

Other policy debates include Welfare, Transport, PreP, Racism (with reference to the rise in hate crimes as a result of the Leave campaign), the Green economy and Parent Governors; there are consultative sessions on Nuclear Weapons …

6 Comments

VIDEO: Watch the “Electing Diverse MPs” (incl. All Woman Shortlists) debate

You can watch today’s “Electing Diverse MPs” (including All Women Shortlists) debate from the York conference in full below. Just click on the central arrow:

Tagged and | Leave a comment
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoeB 20th Jun - 12:34pm
    Peter, I can and do argue that GDP is a representation of production in the economy. However, much economic activity is rent-seeing predominantly through the...
  • User AvatarThomas 20th Jun - 12:16pm
    The "what if" stuffs are quite fun, especially when it comes to history. What if Asquith crashed his head on a rock and died in...
  • User AvatarJulian Tisi 20th Jun - 11:39am
    One thing as a party we're not typically good at is winning the ordinary person round to our point of view. We come across as...
  • User Avatarexpats 20th Jun - 11:35am
    Cllr Mark Wright 20th Jun '18 - 10:18am @ James Baillie and expats......................So your only problem with colonial settlement is that sometimes the settlers have...
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 20th Jun - 11:32am
    It's the hostile environment that is the issue. A hostile culture to immigrants permeates whatever rules are in place. People are deluding themselves if they...
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 20th Jun - 11:28am
    Politics is the art of the possible and that is defined by our democratic institutions. As long as we remain a democracy a policy is...