Category Archives: Conference

Liberal Democrat Voice at Conference

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‘How should the UK change its refugee family reunification policies’: LD4SOS at Brighton Fringe meeting

There were plenty there to hear our panel of speakers and enjoy the refreshments provided courtesy of Lib Dem Voice despite us clashing  with a big consultation on the supporters scheme.

Tim Farron MP started off with a review of the overall position and welcomed the approval earlier in the day of policy motion F16 with all 5 amendments, most notably amendment #1 (LD4SOS). He reminded us that in debates we are not just talking about policies but real people who are affected. He talked about the experience of visiting  Calais, where it was clear that what people were looking for was safety, not a nice life on benefits.

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A view from conference: the Party disciplinary processes debate

Around April 2015, I was seriously considering not voting for the Liberal Democrats in the upcoming general election. It wasn’t the mistakes of the coalition that worried me, it was something about the values of the party around that time that gave me pause to wonder if it was the right thing to do. I read about the scandals about complaints in the party, and it seemed that attitudes were not as progressive or inclusive as I expected. Complaints against members appeared to be inadequate and chaotic, leaving victims (especially women), feeling unsafe in the party. I wondered if I …

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Liberal Democrat Voice fringe meeting: Trans rights are human rights

The panel at our fringe: from left to right: Back row: Caron Lindsay, Liberal Democrat Voice editor (Chair), Sarah Brown, LGBT+ Lib Dems, James Morton, Scottish Transgender Alliance, Emma Ritch, Engender and, front row, Sal Brinton, Liberal Democrat President.

Most of you may notice the odd advert on Liberal Democrat Voice. These help LDV to contribute to the Conference Access Fund, making it easier for those of modest means to attend Lib Dem conferences. With the advert funds, we also sponsor or host fringe meetings at conference.

At Brighton on Saturday, we hosted a fringe meeting in the Hilton hotel entitled: “Transgender and intersex rights – spotlight on the media”. This fringe meeting reflected something we feel very strongly about at LDV Towers: that when people come to our fringe meetings they should be well fed and have good drinks! There were some very good nibbles and drinks at the back of the room.

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Conference motion: Reforming our party’s disciplinary processes

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There is now a superb summary of all the conference motions on the Liberal Democrat website. This allows you to see, at a glance, the final passed motions, incorporating any passed amendments.

One really important motion was that on the party disciplinary process.

This process was initiated by a motion at 2016 conference to review the party’s disciplinary processes. There have been reviews conducted by Helena Morrissey, Ken MacDonald and Isabelle Parasram. The review was delayed by the 2017 general election. The process was debated at the 2018 Spring Conference, where it was referred back for further work.

The Federal Board has appointed a steering group on Sexual Impropriety Complaints, as recommended by Isabelle Parasram.

The motion at the Brighton conference seeks to set up an independent disciplinary mechanism with trained adjudicators and investigators. There will be a strict logging process for complaints, with time limits for resolution.

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Jo Swinson’s speech to conference – in full

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Vince Cable’s speech today to the party conference in Brighton – in full

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Journalistic consensus is that Vince said “exotic spresm” instead of “erotic spasm”

“Check against delivery” is printed at the top of every pre-released speech. Vince’s speech today was advanced emailed with the phrase “erotic spasm” included – referring to the dreams of extreme Brexiters.

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Why are there giant snails around Brighton? #bemoresnail

Members hurrying from conference chamber to fringe meeting hall in Brighton have asked the question:

Why are there giant colourful snail sculptures dotted around Brighton?

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

Who knows what emergency motions we’ll be discussing today? Will we even have a Government by that stage? Will Theresa May still be PM?

The day starts without expectation of controversy but you never know in a party business session as we look at recognising the new Lib Dem Campaign for Racial Equality.

Policy debates today include promoting a fairer distribution of wealth, and a motion that sets out our demands for a better Britain.

And there will be keynote speeches from Scottish Leader Willie Rennie and Vince Cable.

09.00–09.20 Business motion: Renewal of Recognition of SAOs
Business motion: Recognition of AOs and SAOs

9:20-10:25 Emergency motions or topical issue discussions

10:25-11:30 Policy motion: Promoting a Fairer Distribution of Wealth

11.30–12.30 Policy motion: Demand Better: Liberal Democrat Priorities for a Better Britain

12.30–12.50 Speech: Willie Rennie MSP

12.50–14.10 Lunch

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Gina Miller, the next leader of the Liberal Democrats – not

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Gina Miller, businessperson and Brexit campaigner, just received a long and strong standing ovation, after delivering a spirited speech at the party conference in Brighton.

Ms Miller was quick to quash media reports that she might be angling to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats. Those rumours have presumably been spread by people who know absolutely nothing about our party.

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The Independent View: time to support the UN nuclear ban treaty

Less than a year ago, the United Nations’ nuclear weapons ban treaty opened for signature. States from across the world are stepping forward to sign up to prohibit nuclear weapons – over 60 on current count. This is a giant step forward on the road towards global abolition. The treaty follows decades of grassroots campaigning across the world – CND has been calling for a global ban on nuclear weapons since its founding in 1958 and we are delighted at the development.

Over one hundred countries are likely to sign the treaty, but will Britain make the most of this crucial …

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Federal People Development Committee explains supporters proposal

Last night at 6:15pm I went to the truly vast Oxford hall within the Brighton Hilton. You could almost hold the FA Cup Final in the Oxford Hall, it is so big.

There was an excellent meeting, chaired by Miranda Roberts, which explained the supporters proposal.

Miranda is the chair of the Federal People Development Committee. She took us through the process. There was a briefing on a similar scheme in Canada and within the UK Which consumer organisation.

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

Europe, housing, the economy, land tax and sustainable development are on the policy agenda today.

Anti Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, not even a party member, will be giving a keynote speech. She’s had some attention as a future leader of the party despite not being a member so her remarks are bound to spark media interest.

The other keynote speaker is Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds.

And there will, of course, be the debate on membership subscriptions which, with a big increase in the Federal Levy, may actually prove more controversial than usual.

09.00–10.00 Policy motion: An Affordable, Secure Home for All

10.00–11.00 Policy motion: Europe

11.00–11.20 Speech: Gina Miller

11.20–14.10 Lunch

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

The controversial migration paper is the most likely opportunity to upset the leadership today. Many Liberal Democrats have expressed alarm at its negative language. Expect passion.

Other debates include ending discrimination in mental health provision, a longstanding Lib Dem priority and a paper on foreign affairs.

Also up today, Vince takes to the stage for the first time for his annual Q & A session. What other party leader would submit to genuine, unscripted questions from members for an hour in public?

There are keynote speeches from Sal Brinton and Jo Swinson.

As far as accountability is concerned, the Campaign for Gender Balance and the Parliamentary Parties come up for scrutiny.

09.00–10.00 Report: Campaign for Gender Balance
Report: Parliamentary Parties

10.00–11.00 Policy motion: Ending Discrimination in Mental
Health Provision

11.00–12.30 Policy motion: A Fair Deal for Everyone: Prosperity
and Dignity in Migration

12.30–12.50 Speech: Jo Swinson MP

12.50–14.10 Lunch

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

It’s an intense first day of debate at Conference. Abortion, Windrush, animal welfare and power for people and communities form the policy discussions. The day ends with a debate on reforming the Party’s disciplinary processes. Have sufficient changes been made to satisfy those who referred it back in Southport?

Keynote speakers today are Layla Moran and Tom Brake.

09.00–09.05 Opening of conference

09.05–09.40 Report: Federal Conference Committee
Report: Federal Policy Committee

09.40–10.25  Policy motion: Improving Animal Welfare

10.25–11.15  Policy motion: Righting Wrongs: Restoring the Rights of the Windrush Generation

11.15–12.30 Policy motion: Establishing Real Freedom of …

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This Weekend You Can Help Stop the Climate Emergency

I’ll admit it, I do not always come to conference fully prepared.  Well, to be honest, I’m often reading the motions or amendments for the first time in the hall.  As a result I have sat in debates and wondered “why has Y been carved out” or “why hasn’t this great idea been extended to X” and occasionally “how on earth has line Z made it in”!

I know I am not the only one –speakers in debates often raise everything from minor tweaks to wholly new directions in policy in their speeches and interventions, only for a summation speech to respond with the reproving reminder “some good points have been made and we would have liked to have considered them at the consultation stage but alas they were not raised…..”

Well conference-goers, do not spend your weekend being (as I have) a disappointed would-be policy tweaker. Bring your ideas to the Consultative Sessions!

In particular, as a member of the snappily-titled Climate Change and Low-Carbon Economy Policy Working Group I want to urge you to come and spend your Saturday lunchtime in our clean, green company.

The Working Group has produced an initial consultation paper, but detailed policy formulation is still at an early stage so your thoughts, ideas and inspiration on this cornerstone of Lib Dem policy would be very welcome.  We put forward some excellent policies in the 2017 manifesto that have been developed recently by the Vision for Britain: Clean, Green and Carbon Free report.  Our task as a Working Group is to build on this strong base.

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My view on our conference motion to end discrimination in mental health care

The problem with conference is that it is impossible to get to everything! I was hoping to speak on Sunday morning in our debate on the policy motion entitled, “Ending Discrimination In Mental Health Provision”. Regular readers of LDV know that mental health policy is an area I feel strongly about, so I am gutted I can’t get there due to a conflict.

 So I’ll blog my speech instead…

Currently, in our country if you are someone without a mental disorder you have an absolute right to refuse medical treatment or refuse to be detained for medical purposes.

However, if you have a mental disorder or have learning difficulties you lose that right and can be detained and treated under the Mental Health Act 1983 without giving consent.

As the charity Mind has pointed out, anyone with capacity who does not have a mental disorder should not be involuntarily detained. Forcibly detaining someone based on disability is completely discriminatory and should be stopped. As this motion says in lines 17-18, such detentions are in breach of the UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities.

I am particularly concerned that the Mental Health Act 1983, as amended by the Mental Health Act 2007, justifies the involuntary detention of those with learning difficulties whose behaviour is “abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible”. Behaviours in those with learning difficulties often have unrelated causes (sensory overload, for example), so understanding the cause of such behaviour, and treating the underlying symptoms is what is needed, not involuntary detention.

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Things to do on the Friday night before Lib Dem Conference

Are you heading to Lib Dems conference in Brighton?  Are you arriving on Friday?

If so, then you may have noticed that the conference doesn’t start until 9am on Saturday 15th September.

Well once you’ve arrived on Friday and have settled down, you might wonder about what to do with your evening. Fortunately, there are two outstanding Lib Dem options for your evening:

  1. #LibDemPint

A popular choice, Lib Dem Pint runs from 7pm to 11pm at the Palm Court Restaurant on Brighton Pier. Tickets are £5 on the door or can be bought in advance online here.This is always a busy pub …

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A challenge for Labour on the development of jobs and businesses in Britain

What can the Liberal Democrats offer Labour voters who don’t like the way their great party is heading under Jeremy Corbyn? What, particularly, has our party to offer the working people of this country who have seen their standard of living drop under the Government’s austerity programme and can’t expect better if Brexit happens?

As the party that supports neither unbridled capitalism nor full-blooded socialism, we allow markets to operate as freely as possible, but intervene to ensure they are well-regulated and competitive, and to offer individual citizens greater powers and rights. “We want to build a new economy that really …

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The immigration motion still needs improvement

It has not been easy to come up with a response to the party’s immigration motion and paper.

There is much in the paper that we are very happy with; but there are also areas where we feel distinctly let down. We’re grateful to the Working Group for their positive attitude in communicating with us and doing what they could to improve the policy.

After a lot of soul-searching and discussion, we have come up with four amendments that we feel the motion needs in order to demonstrate the liberal values we share.

1. Means-testing of families

The situation now: A UK resident …

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Miscellaneous Announcements

I wanted to take the opportunity on a Wednesday to make some small and varied points/announcements that I feel will be of interest. My announcement for this week is about the:

Autumn Conference

The Agenda for the autumn conference launched online today. HO staff should be thanked for the hard work they have done to get this ready. The Agenda and the Directory can be found at https://www.libdems.org.uk/autumn_conference_2018

To help promote the autumn conference there is a Local Party Conference Challenge

Challenge Criteria:– Between the dates of 1 August and 31 August FCC would like to challenge all local

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Report Back on the Federal Conference Committee (FCC) Held on 14th July 2018

As a member of the FCC, I attended the meeting held last Saturday (14th July). My comments follow the more informative article by Zoe.

The main purpose of the meeting was to go through all the motions that had been selected for FCC to review for possible inclusion at the Autumn conference. Subject area split the motions (54 in all):  Business Innovation and Skills, Communities and Local Government through to Work, Social Security and Pensions (14 different policy areas, in all).

Each member of the committee was given a policy area(s) with internal party contacts (mine was, for example, a member of …

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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!

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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 …

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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 …

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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

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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

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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

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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. 

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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 …

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