Category Archives: Party policy and internal matters

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

Lee Dillon elected prospective parliamentary candidate for Newbury

Councillor Lee Dillon has been chosen as Prospective Parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Newbury Constituency.

Local members overwhelmingly elected Councillor Dillon to win back the seat from the Tories.

Lee is a local family man who has been an activist in the party since he was 15 years old in Thatcham. Both Lee and his wife both work locally and their children go to local schools. Lee’s wider family is long established in the area.

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Autumn Conference FCC Report

As well as setting out the agenda for this Autumn, we also discussed future venues for Spring 2020 and beyond. We know many of you are eager to book travel and accommodation as soon as possible but this is the one area where the committee observes strict secrecy until an official announcement can be made – when it has leaked out before we have found commercial companies block-booking accommodation in advance, putting the prices up for ordinary members. Staff are in the process of finalising arrangements to ensure favourable rates and the venues will be announced as soon as this is completed.

Returning to this Autumn, regular readers will be familiar with the process by now. In the first round, FCC considers the timeliness, accuracy, quality of drafting, overlap with other motions and so on to decide which motions can be debated. In the second and any subsequent rounds, timings are allocated to motions and motions culled in order to fit into the limited debating time available. Over the last couple of years, we have had more pressure on debating time as the 2017 General Election disrupted the Federal Policy Committee’s schedule for policy papers. We are now roughly back on track, which has left a little more time for member and local party motions. The selection process is name-blind, which means that the detail below on who submitted a motion was not available to committee members until after sections have been completed.

The full text of motions will be available once the agenda has been typeset for publication. If you are thinking of submitting an amendment or emergency motion to autumn conference, the deadline is 1pm on the 2nd of September – but please do consider making use of the drafting advice service, as many motions and amendments fall purely to to problems with how they are structured. The deadline for that is the 20th August.

Business and the Economy

Brexit Bonus (Bexhill and Battle) – not selected
Bringing Prosperity to the Regions (North West Region) – not selected
Business Tax Reform: Fair for business and fair for society (12 Party Members) – selected for debate
Corporate tax avoidance (Oldham) – received after deadline
More Sustainable and Responsible Business (13 Party Members) – not selected
Well Being First (30 Party Members) – not selected

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Future Women MPs’ Weekend 2019

Applications for the 2019 edition of the Future Women MPs’ Weekend are now open. The training will be held in Milton Keynes on 20-21 July 2019.

The Future Women MPs’ Weekend is an intensive course, specifically designed to equip aspiring female MPs with the knowledge and skills they need to kickstart their political career.

We’ve witnessed incredible election results in the last few weeks in both local and European elections, but we need to get more liberal women elected across the country. So, if you’ve even thought about becoming a candidate or know someone who should, please encourage them to apply.

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A country gentleman attends Federal International Relations Committee…

I’d spent the afternoon attending a pension seminar (about my own, not about selling them) and there is little to beat a consideration of your post-retirement finances for reminding you that you’re beginning to get on a bit. And so it was a somewhat more thoughtful than usual rural bureaucrat who turned up at Great George Street, the Party’s London HQ, for the year’s second meeting of FIRC.

The meeting started with a presentation from Gordon Mackay, the rather dashing Secretary General of Liberal International, who outlined his plans for reinvigorating this august organisation. Talk of individual memberships, of providing added …

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+++European Election candidate lists announced for England and Wales

Today the Liberal Democrats announce the list of MEP candidates in England and Wales for the EU elections on the 23rd May (Scotland should follow later today).

The diverse list of candidates includes former MEPs, current Councillors and other hard working community activists.

The Liberal Democrats will fight the elections as an unapologetically pro-European Party campaigning hard for People’s Vote with an option to remain in the the EU.

Vince Cable commented:

Today we’ve announced a strong, diverse mix of candidates, from those who’ve joined the Liberal Democrats recently to those with long experience of the European Parliament.

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Time to drag party policy making into the 21st century?

Before we start, let me make something clear. I’m not a policy wonk. It’s not that I’m disinterested in policy, far from it. It’s just that, as a bureaucracy geek, I’m interested in how things work.

When the recent governance review took place, I found myself wondering if it was going to look at how we could engage more members in what interests many of them – policy. And, in truth, I was disappointed. It was mostly about reordering the committee structures and, whilst I have my views on that, it didn’t really do anything that would engage ordinary members.

Our policy …

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A fork in the road for the Lib Dems

The long predicted realignment in British politics has started. Whether it helps or harms the Lib Dems depends on how we respond to it. We can embrace the future with confidence and open arms or we can turn in on ourselves and stick to the old ways.

We are at a fork in the political road and our future success or failure depends on whether we make the right choices. Some important decisions will be made at Spring Conference and it is imperative that we get them right.

They are the keys to the success of our …

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So, what might we be looking for in a Party President?

I rather allowed myself to be distracted last week, but I did promise to offer some thoughts on what skills an incoming President might need.

I’ll start with something rather dull, but critical. The ability to manage meetings is imperative. As President, you’ll be chairing Federal Board, a body which can be fractious at the best of times, and moulding it into an effective decision making entity is critical. You can’t just turn up and go, you need to determine potential flashpoints, decide how you might deal with disagreements.

That in turn will require good communication skills and a sense of empathy. …

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Federal Policy Committee report – 6 February 2019

FPC met on Wednesday 6 February. We started with a good discussion with Ed Davey, home affairs spokesperson, and Vicki Cardwell, chair of the working group developing new policy on crime and policing. Ed talked through the issues he is focussing on, including responses to the increase in violent crime and the Immigration Bill. It is clear that crime is an important and increasingly important issue to voters. We then discussed in more detail the consultation paper written by the crime and policing group (which will be available shortly here). This included a review of the current picture of …

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So, you want to be Party President?

It is easy to forget that, for many of our Party members, Sal Brinton is the only Party President they have ever known. In that sense, they’ve been pretty fortunate, because (at least in my view) she’s been a good one. But all good things come to an end eventually, and Sal is now in her last year before term limits kick in.

Now I’ve heard rumours of possible candidates for the succession, and whilst I wouldn’t want to name names just yet, perhaps it is time to start thinking about what members …

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What will the party debate at Spring Conference?

The party meets again at its Spring Conference in York on the 15th-17th March, and if you have not registered yet there is still time! Federal Conference Committee has also now met to decide the agenda so we can reveal what topics will be up for debate.

Motion selection proceeded in the usual fashion that by now will be familiar to many readers – in the first round, members of the committee debated the suitability of each motion for debate considering how well it was drafted, how recently the topic was last debated and so on. Once that has happened, timings are allocated to each motion, and the committee considers the relative priority of the remaining motions.

Of the 19 motions submitted, 6 were eventually selected for debate. Constitutional amendments must be selected for debate if they are in order, which applied to one of two submitted amendments. A 105-minute slot has also been reserved for a later deadline on Europe, as given the current state of politics any motion submitted now would certainly be old news by March!

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Can you help us make our new disciplinary process a big success?

Have you watched in horror as one organisation after another has got itself into hot water when an owner, a member or an employee has behaved in an appalling way?

The impact of the #MeToo Movement has really highlighted the need for every organisation to get this kind of issue right. We are proud to say that the Lib Dems will be rolling out our new and upgraded disciplinary process in 2019. In order to become an effective, inclusive and diverse organisation this is absolutely vital.

Whilst Brexit is grabbing all the headlines, we are going to need help from members to make this Lib Dem project a big success.

Lord Macdonald started the project with an excellent review and set of recommendations for the new Disciplinary Process. It was then adopted by the Federal Party at the Brighton Conference last September. The English Party has agreed to implement the new process and the Scots and Welsh Parties will look at doing the same at their Spring Conferences early in 2019.

So that means we need volunteers across all three State Parties to get involved and make this a reality. Experience you have from outside the Party may mean you are just the person we want! It might mean you could help us by getting involved as an investigator, or by sitting on a disciplinary panel. Please look out for an email coming to all members in the New Year. It will have links to more information and details on how to apply. In the meantime please click on this link and go to https://www.libdems.org.uk/macdonald-implementation-signup

We are really keen to hear from people not otherwise involved in the Parties’ structures. Investigators and the people on the panel may stand as candidates for the Party or hold office at a Local Party level, but can’t be on other committees.

If you think you could be one of the independent people we need to run a fair and equitable internal disciplinary system, please get in touch today!

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South East Liberal Democrats back dynamic ideas for “People’s Advocate” in planning issues and bigger role for chambers of commerce in local economic development

Liberal Democrats from across the south east of England gathered in Canterbury on 17thNovember for their annual regional conference. Held at the city’s Spires Academy, the conference heard from MPs Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne), Ed Davey (Kingston) and Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) as well as Baroness Judith Jolly and the Leader of the Opposition on Kent County Council, Cllr Rob Bird. 

Canterbury and Coastal Liberal Democrats proposed two motions. Both were endorsed by the conference by overwhelmingly majorities.  They will now be considered at national level.

The first idea proposed is in response to the widely held feeling in communities across the country that ordinary people don’t get a proper hearing on planning matters. 

In cities, towns and villages across the South East ordinary voters feel the cards are stacked against them. They see developers hiring expensive lawyers, planning consultants and PR firms that dominate the process and shut out objections. 

The Liberal Democrat idea is that communities will be able to able to apply for a match funded grant of up to £5,000 from their local council. With money from their own resources added to the council grant, a community will be able to hire a legal, planning or public relations expert, known as “A People’s Advocate,”  to guide them and help them shape their campaign. 

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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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