Category Archives: Party policy and internal matters

Anything to do with Lib Dem internal business, including policy development, consultations, rules and constitutions.

Proposed new party disciplinary procedures

I love working with a party that is so committed to giving everyone in society a voice. At the moment, though, our disciplinary process doesn’t live up to those values. Far too often it lets down those making complaints, those complained about – and the whole party. That’s why I’m moving business motion F11: Reforming our Party’s Disciplinary Processes at federal conference in September, a motion I hope you will support.

This reform has been a long time coming: for many years now, experts (yes, we Lib Dems still think there is value in experts!) have been looking at our systems …

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I’ve experienced the hostile environment – that’s why I’m determined to end it

I arrived in the UK just over eleven years ago from Brazil, eager and ready to build my career and life many thousands of miles away from home.

Fast forward to 2018 and I have just received in the post my first British passport. Hooray? Yes, hooray now, but even though I was lucky enough to first “enter” the UK immigration system in pre-“hostile environment” times, the journey from being a Brazilian citizen to a British one hasn’t been easy.

There were the exorbitant fees – for a spousal visa, indefinite leave to remain, and finally citizenship – the intrusive document …

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The Young Liberals need to take themselves more seriously… and the party does too

When I joined the party eight years ago I was surprised at the disdain some held for the Young Liberals (formerly Liberal Youth). Infighting, popularity contests and a distinct lack of coherent long-term objectives are all things which have came to epitomise the Young Liberals, and sadly much of that is true.

Our party can be daunting for young members so when I joined the party back in 2010 the thing which kept me involved was the youth wing. The knowledge that, somewhere within the party, there was a person not too dissimilar from me who was able to speak out …

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Come and join Jo Swinson at the Liberal Democrat anti-Trump protest tomorrow at 2pm #LibDemsAgainstTrump

The party’s website carries this invite to an anti-Trump protest tomorrow:

The Government has made the right decision to cancel Trump’s state visit, but this scaled down trip must not be met with scaled down protests.

Protesting against a man with dangerous, misogynistic and racist views is our responsibility. It is our opportunity to stand in solidarity with all the people he has abused and denigrated.

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How would you like to find out more about Federal International Relations Committee?

Last week, I was less than entirely complimentary about FIRC. This week, perhaps I should try to be more… helpful. So, having raised the question of communication, and being fairly confident that the Committee’s Chair and Secretary may look in on the comments, here’s an opportunity for you to make some suggestions as to how we, as a Committee, might engage with you all.

First, though, here’s an excerpt from the Federal Constitution, just to make it clear what we do, and what we do not…

There shall be a Federal International Relations Committee (“FIRC”) which shall be responsible to the Federal

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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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The totally unofficial Federal International Relations Committee report – May 2018

There is a certain irony in that, having written the Committee’s communication plan before I resigned as its Secretary, that the Committee leadership has evidently forgotten that it exists. Thus, this report is wholly my own work. You’ll remember that if I run for re-election next year, right?

The key areas for discussion this time were the workplan and our response to the Alderdice Report on BAME participation within the Party.

The workplan is, I sense, a work of obligation rather than commitment, in that it looks to have been put together because one is required, rather than desired. Federal Board not …

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Federal Policy Committee Awayday

FPC members met for an awayday meeting on Saturday 19 May 2018, with a focus on reviewing our overall plans for policy development and how they can most usefully contribute to the party as a whole. It was an upbeat meeting, with lots of positive ideas for our next steps.

We started with a briefing from Nick Harvey, the party’s Chief Executive, on the party’s overall direction and current objectives, so that FPC’s plans could contribute most usefully to that. This led on to a presentation of some recent research and polling on messaging. Next we reviewed a paper on the …

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Update on the party’s immigration policy consultation

Regular readers of this site will probably be aware that the Party has been consulting members about the development of new policy on immigration, refugees and identity.

As the chair of the working group, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond to the consultation: we received around 100,000 words in written submissions and over 900 members responded to our online survey. The working group has been working through your responses and last Wednesday we met to discuss what you have told us and how it will inform the development of our policy paper on immigration.

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Publication of Report on Sexual Impropriety Complaints Handling – an update from Special Investigation Counsel, Isabelle Parasram

In November 2017, I was appointed by the Federal Board of the Liberal Democrats as Special Investigation Counsel to conduct an investigation and produce a Report on the handling of sexual impropriety complaints within the Party.

I am pleased that, after a period of being embargoed, the report has now been published and you can access it here.

My appointment was one of a number of steps taken by the Federal Board in response to concerns expressed by members of the party towards the end of last year. These concerns related to allegations of sexual impropriety that were, at that time, …

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Federal Policy Committee report, 21 March 2018

FPC met for three hours on the evening of 21 March. The first item on the agenda was a discussion with the Leader; Vince is chair of the FPC, but inevitably his parliamentary and party duties mean he can’t attend every meeting, so we were pleased to have this opportunity. He updated us on three separate pieces of work under way on aspects of tax policy: on business tax, on the prospects for land value tax, and on options for a wealth tax. He hopes to be able to publish short ‘spokesperson’s papers’ on all of these and submit motions …

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Changes to payment for Connect and Salesforce

Since becoming Chief Executive, I am trying to streamline our operations and cut out unnecessary waste.  With limited resources, we need to be agile and dynamic, to simplify processes and maximise the time, money and effort we devote to campaigning.

Currently, local parties are either invoiced or debited for Connect and Salesforce. Processing all this and then chasing it up involves significant staff time and pointless bureaucracy.

Worse still, there are grotesque and unjustifiable anomalies in the sums that local parties, both large and small, are paying for these digital

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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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Macdonald Report goes back for a rethink – a member of the English Appeals Panel reflects

The news that the Macdonald Report, and its allied recommendations, had been narrowly referred back came as something of a surprise, as least to this observer. The ground is normally pretty well prepared for changes like this, and whilst the debate about the Party’s internal disciplinary procedures has been going on for some time now, there appeared to be agreement that something needed to be done. And whilst that possibility isn’t ruled out – yet – there must be some doubt as to whether the proposals will, even if amended, be accepted by a Federal Conference at some future date.

Having …

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Inaugural meeting of the Race Equality Policy Working Group

On 13 February, eve of Valentine’s Day, members of the Race Equality Policy Working Group met for the first time at LDHQ. I mention Valentine’s Day because this is very much a labour of love for those of us who have volunteered to assist the Party in its policy making on this important subject.

The first meeting was also timely for another reason: it follows the issue last week of Lord Alderdice’s report on Race, Ethnic Minorities and the culture of the Liberal Democrats and an email from our leader, Vince Cable MP, calling on each and every member to …

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Land Value Tax – Where are we as a party?

ALTER will address this question in our conference fringe at Southport next month to be held on Friday, 9th March at the Ramada Plaza, from 20:15 to 21:30 in the Promenade room.

Leading the discussion will be two LVT experts and experienced Liberal Democrat campaigners – Michael Meadowcroft and Tony Vickers.

All mainstream parties are now beginning to address the Land problem in the context of an ever worsening housing crisis. The Chancellor announced a raft of measures in the last budget including the Letwin review that is to be informed by a number of consultations.

Among these consultations, the Communities and Local Government Committee (CLG) are conducting an inquiry into the effectiveness of current land value capture methods and the need for new ways of capturing any uplift in the value of land associated with the granting of planning permission or nearby infrastructure improvements and other factors . ALTER’s submission will argue that attempts to capture uplifts in land values by one-off levies have largely been unsuccessful and that an alternative is to go for annual levies as with a site value rating.

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Federal Conference Committee report – January 2018

Just over a week ago, Federal Conference Committee met at LibDem HQ to set the Agenda for Southport in March, now just under six weeks away.

It is always tough to sort through the many worthy motions that are submitted, but on this occasion the job was even harder – the snap election last year delayed some policy papers back so we have very limited time to debate non-policy-paper motions. We also had an increased number of motions submitted, 34, compared to 26 this time last year.

Unfortunately, that lack of time is likely to spill over into Autumn too with more …

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Post-Christmas musings on the R word

The Queen has in her Christmas speech welcomed new members into the royal family in 2018.

Prince Harry will soon have a mother-in-law who is African American and the young couple’s future children will be of mixed race heritage. The society pages lap up the fairy-tale love story and we all cheer ourselves on how liberal we have become as a nation.

Vogue Magazine has a new editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, and we can’t help but notice the change in the complexion of many of the supermodels that grace the glossy pages. Sir Mo Farrah has not only been knighted but has also …

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A way forward for the English Party

Since late 2016, the English Party has been reviewing its structure and governance. This was initiated following the consultation conducted by the Federal Party following the 2015 General Election, which revealed some considerable criticism of the English Party for a lack of transparency and accountability.

The English Party established the English Review Group towards the end of 2016, with members drawn from each of the 11 English Regions. This is chaired by Sally Symington, who has not previously been a member of any of the English Party committees. She was recommended for her common-sense approach, her fresh eye, and her experience …

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Money to support young people who want to see a parliamentary by-election campaign at first hand

I thought that might get your attention…!

It’s eighteen months since the death of David Rendel, former Liberal Democrat MP for Newbury from 1993 to 2005. His untimely demise was obviously a cruel blow for his family. In Newbury, we also miss him dreadfully in the Liberal Democrats. We lost a great friend. I lost a great friend. I miss his humility, his enormous wisdom, his integrity, his selflessness, his sense of humour, his encouraging smile, his endless energy and passion for liberalism.

Fortunately, shortly before his death, when asked if there was anything that the local Lib Dems could do in his memory, he expressed his wish. David was a great by-election afficianado. Indeed, he himself swept to victory in Newbury in 1993 in one of the most famous Liberal Democrat by-election victories in history. David was also a passionate mentor to many young people in politics. In his last months he said that he would like there to be some sort of fund in his name which enables young people who are interested in politics (and he specified that these young people would not necessarily be Lib Dem members, but perhaps broadly share our values) to be able to go to a parliamentary by-election and immerse themselves for several weeks in the campaign – getting involved in the campaigning. He particularly wanted such a fund to benefit those young people who, without such financial support, might not otherwise be able to travel to and stay at a by-election location.

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Federal International Relations Committee and the Paperwork of Doom

Yes, it was time for FIRC to meet again, our fifth meeting of the year, and we had a packed agenda, notable really for a general lack of policy discussion. Again.

For those Committee members who had joined the Committee in anticipation of debating the burning foreign affairs issues of the day, this will have come as a disappointment. For former bureaucrats like myself, it’s just as frustrating, because if there’s one thing worse than bureaucracy, it’s bureaucracy done inelegantly.

The bright spot on the agenda was the visit of Andrew Hames, who burbled happily enough whilst his mother, and the Party’s …

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Your chance to have a say on draft disciplinary reform proposals

Editor note – comments are closed on this article, given its nature.

The consultation on the Party’s governance held in late 2015 laid bare a number of concerns which members had with our current disciplinary processes. The Federal Executive at the time took the decision to commission a separate review, which I was asked to chair in the autumn of 2016.

I am clear: the only way members will be well-served by a disciplinary process is if it is simple, transparent and efficient. It needs to be independent, a stand-alone process, and it needs to deal with complaints promptly with clear lines …

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New Policy Working Group on Race Equality: Chair Needed

Readers of Geoff Payne’s report on the last FPC meeting, on 18 October, may remember that we took the decision to establish a new policy working group on Race Equality.

The first stage in the process is for the FPC to appoint a chair of the working group, and we’re advertising for applicants now.

The chair will lead a group of around 15–20 members to produce policy proposals setting out the party’s plans for improving race equality and helping us reach out to BAME communities, while exemplifying the party’s values.

The working group will take evidence in the first half of 2018 …

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2018 Future Women MPs weekend – applications now open

The Campaign for Gender Balance (CGB) and the Candidates & Diversity Team are pleased to announce that applications are now open for the 2018 edition of the Future Women MPs Weekend, to be held in Milton Keynes on 24-25 February 2018.

The weekend is an intensive residential training weekend for aspiring female MPs; designed to equip you with the knowledge you need as a candidate.

As well as expert advice on your political career the weekend will also give you:

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The Federal Policy Committee Report

The Federal Policy Committee met again on 18th October 2017. This was a fairly heavy agenda this time and decisions were taken that will reach some distance into the future.

Association of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)
Peter Price presented a report on the work of ALDE. The organisation has a total of 59 member parties throughout the EU and members of the Liberal Democrats have traditionally played a significant role within it. It is governed by a Bureau, a Council and a Congress, the latter meeting annually. Motions and papers can be submitted and there are usually quite a lot of them, often on what are …

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Want to fly the Liberal Democrat banner in 2022 (or maybe sooner)?

It is easy to forget sometimes that a majority of Liberal Democrat members have joined since the 2015 General Election. Even in my rural corner of England that is Mid Suffolk, membership numbers have increased by more than 150%. What that means is a huge infusion of new blood, potentially willing to hold aloft the Party banner in elections, if only they could find out how. Perhaps I can help…

It may surprise some readers to hear that the process of selecting Parliamentary candidates is already underway in some constituencies. In some cases, they might represent potential target seats for 2022, …

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Here, there and everywhere – a report back from Federal International Relations Committee…

So, (some of) you very kindly voted for me last year to serve for three years as a member of Federal International Relations Committee. And, as promised, I am reporting back on what I’ve done, as well as making a few comments on our recent meeting on 13 July.

I’ve spent much of the first half of 2017 bringing the Committee up to constitutional speed. I produced our first Standing Orders in January, and have since amended them to create some formal process for selecting our candidates for positions on the Bureaux of Liberal International and the ALDE Party, following …

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BREAKING NEWS: Vince Cable announces his candidacy for Leader

A statement from Vince Cable MP:

Today I am announcing that I will be a candidate in the forthcoming Liberal Democrat leadership election. I wanted to do so on Lib Dem Voice, the leading forum for discussion amongst our membership.

With 20 years on the national political stage I am passionate as ever about our liberal values. I am ready to commit my energy, enthusiasm and experience to the task of leading the Liberal Democrats through what will be a period of chronic uncertainty. With the prospect of another election looming large, we must be ready for the fight.

Brexit negotiations have begun. The government is split and weakened; Labour is equivocal about Europe. The Liberal Democrats alone have a consistent and principled, outward looking, and approach to the issue. We must fight for the British public to have a final say on the government’s deal with a chance to stay in the EU if the deal is not good enough. To achieve this, we will need to work with like-minded people in other parties.

As Shadow Chancellor I secured a hard-won hearing for the party on the economy, warning of the 2008 financial crisis which has been a source of economic weakness, great inequality and political anger ever since. In government for five years as Secretary of State for Business I created a distinctive Lib Dem vision for the economy with a long-term industrial strategy, promotion of science and innovation, banking reform, investment in young people via apprenticeships and the promotion of socially responsible capitalism. With the economy approaching the Brexit iceberg, Liberal Democrats need more than ever to warn of the dangers ahead and the need for a new course.

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Policy consultation deadline approaches

The Party conference may be over, but whether you got there or not, there is still a chance to make an input into policy. There are four policy consultation papers inviting your comments with a deadline of this Friday. These are each likely to come to a future conference as a full policy paper. Given that it is pretty hard for ordinary members to change much if anything in a policy paper from the floor of conference, this may be your best chance to influence policy. The papers can be found here.

I could have tried to offer neutral summaries …

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Let the trumpets sound, the banners fly, Federal International Relations Committee has met…

The Federal International Relations Committee held its inaugural meeting in central London on 28 January which, for those of us living beyond the M25, meant a rather early start, albeit for a good cause. And we had much to do, not all of it entirely political.

For, with any new body comes a panoply of administration which, although rather dull, is essential to making sure that, when decisions are taken, they are valid. We had, fortunately, elected a Chair in advance, as only one of the directly elected members, Robert Woodthorpe Browne, applied for the post. Standing Orders have been adopted, a secretary elected, and a communications plan initiated.

The bureaucracy dealt with, the Committee looked at forthcoming business. Liberal International is currently drafting a new manifesto, timed for release during its Congress in Andorra in mid-May. 2017 sees the Liberal International reach its seventieth birthday, and the new document is intended to be a reboot of the original “Oxford Manifesto”, written in the shadow of World War 2, which espoused a liberal platform for the rebuilding of peace and democracy after such a calamity. But time moves on, and global liberalism faces new challenges. I’ll report more on this in the coming weeks.

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  • User AvatarMalcolm Todd 24th Oct - 1:07am
    Peter Martin Yes, you should stick to this sort of thing rather than peddling Europhobe myths! Because I'm afraid you're right about EZ governance, and...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 23rd Oct - 11:45pm
    Agree with the really useful press info we see here now, a welcome move,yet the party must not be so overtly dramatic only on Brexit,...
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    Uncertainty kills economies and even after Brexit day the uncertainty will continue nay it will increase. Brexit needs to be stopped because if it isn't...
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