Conference agenda now available

The agenda for the online party Conference in September can be downloaded here. It is at the same time both very familiar and rather different from usual.

All the expected elements are there: policy motions (with amendments), business motions, speeches, Q&A’s, reports, consultative sessions, fringe meetings, training, exhibition stands and helpdesk. There is even a feature that enables you to network with other members at random, just as you might chat with someone while queuing for a coffee. Conference Extra and Conference Daily will be published as usual and the Conference app will be available nearer the time.

The most obvious changes from the norm are with the timing. Auditorium sessions will run between 2.15pm on Friday 25th September and 9pm on Monday 28th September, in shorter bursts than usual – presumably to avoid screen fatigue. This means that many more sessions will be accessible to people in full-time work. The (new) Leader’s speech will be at 2.50pm on the Monday afternoon.

And, of course, it will be much more affordable this time. The only cost will be the registration fee, as travel and accommodation will not be needed!

Details of the fringe and training sessions and the exhibition will be published in a separate Conference Directory nearer the time.

The virtual conference system that is being used, called Hopin, is best accessed on a laptop using either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, or on a tablet using Google Chrome.

The very first session after the opening of Conference will be a business motion to amend standing orders for a conference held remotely to allow for communication to the chair (for points of order etc) and for remote voting.

The conference is open to all members and registered supporters but you must register in advance. It costs £30 up until 20th August, after which the registration fee rises to £40. Under 18s, students and claimants can pay just £10.

I am no longer on the Federal Conference Committee but I can appreciate just how much work has been done by the Conference Office and FCC to make this happen. I – and hundreds of other members – are hugely grateful to them.

It will be a different conference this year, but one to look forward to and enjoy on its own terms. It won’t exactly replicate the usual immersive experience, where we live and breathe conference for 4 whole days, with just occasional breaks to explore the beach and shops. Even meals are usually spent with conference friends.

Instead we will be sitting looking at a screen, and, as we all know from our Zoom time during lockdown, there are limits to how long we can do that in comfort. I imagine we will be dropping in and out over the course of the conference rather than managing sustained attendance all day long, if only so we can get some exercise.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • David Garlick 8th Aug '20 - 9:25am

    I don’t enjoy screen time but do appreciate that this was the only safe option and I also appreciate all the hard work that has gone into making it happen. Thank you to all those concerned.

  • So, on Friday 25 September, Conference will be asked….”Liberal Democrats to campaign for a Universal Basic Income,paid to all long-term UK residents”.

    Good news for ?????

    The Sunday Times Rich List › sunday-times-rich-list
    The definitive guide to wealth of the UK’s richest 1000 people. Browse our website packed with profiles, interviews, graphics, facts and figures.
    ‎Sunday Times Rich List · ‎Rich List: KSI’s YouTube … · ‎Rich List 2020: profiles 1-20 …


    Food banks report record spike in need as coalition of anti … › 2020/05/01 › coalition-call
    1 May 2020 – The Trussell Trust reports a soaring 81% increase for emergency food parcels from food banks in its network during the last two weeks of March 2020, compared to the same period in 2019 – including a 122% rise in parcels given to children, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.

    Watch out for the tabloids on 26/27 September…… and imagine the new Leader’s interview on the Andrew Marr Show on the Sunday morning.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 9th Aug '20 - 7:00am

    David Raw, I am surprised that you seem so dismissive of the idea of Universal Basic Income. Yes, it is true that it will be paid to some people who do not need it. But what does that matter, if it it a step towards ensuring that no-one is “enslaved by poverty”. A guaranteed income which would be paid to everyone, for life, would mean no more waiting for six weeks with no income before receiving Universal Credit, no risk of “sanctions” if you cannot “prove” that you are looking for work or that you are too unwell to work, no obligation to apply for a job that you know would be the wrong job for you and would have a detrimental effect on your health. What does it matter what the tabloids say?

  • @ Catherine Jane Crosland ” I am surprised that you seem so dismissive of the idea of Universal Basic Income”.

    Two reasons, Catherine : 1) It won’t do what it says on the tin, and 2) As it stands it will receive a real mauling in the media because of this.

    After near on sixty years of political activism (beginning in the Calder Valley in the sixties), being Chair of a Food Bank and a Cabinet Member for Social Work I’m as keen as anybody to defeat povert, Catherine… (I even gave Ed Davey a copy of the Alston UN Report wqhich he admitted he hadn’t read)…… BUT….. I suggest a look at the following review by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation :

    Universal basic income – The Joseph Rowntree Foundation
    Universal Basic Income will increase poverty, unless modified beyond recognition.

  • @ Catherine “What does it matter what the tabloids say?”

    I dislike the tabloids as much as you obviously do, Catherine, but they will use every trick in the book to undermine the Liberal Democrats. Ask Neil Kinnock and why give them an easy target ? Even more damaging will be a forensic interview by such as Andrew Neil who is well briefed and certainly well briefed.

    PS. I thoroughly dislike Universal Credit as much as you do… though I remember which political party helped to introduce it. Whoever speaks for this party needs to be well briefed and on top of their subject….. as things stand UBI is full of holes and could finally finish this party off.

  • @ Catherine Sorry about the typo.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 9th Aug '20 - 8:01pm

    David Raw, thank you so much for your replies, and for the link to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. I’ve been working all day, and have only been able to have a quick read of the article so far. I think I need to reflect on it more before commenting, but will do so tomorrow.
    Perhaps I should not have said “What does it matter what the tabloids say”. Obviously they do have a good deal of influence. I just meant that we should do what we believe to be right, without fear of the tabloids. Even if they do attack the policy, at least it will make their readers aware of it, and the readers may reach different conclusions. After all, what’s not to like about the peace of mind that a guaranteed basic income would bring?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 10th Aug '20 - 4:49pm

    David Raw, having reflected on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation article, I disagree its argument that Universal Basic Income would make poverty worse. How could that be the case, when UBI would mean that no-one would ever find themselves in a situation of having no income at all, though benefit sanctions, or through delays when applying for benefits, or through their zero hours contract sometimes turning out to mean literally “zero hours”?
    I do appreciate that, as the article mentions, their are some complex questions about what level UBI should be set at, and whether it should attempt to replace all other benefits. But the fact that something may raise complex questions, does not mean that we should not attempt to find answers and to make it work.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 10th Aug '20 - 4:52pm

    David Raw, sorry about my typos, but I could not spot the typo in your comments!

  • Hi Catherine. Andrew Neil was briefed twice.

    Hope you found the JRF review useful.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the Calder Valley. Disappointed I had to withdraw as PPC for Sowerby when the 1970 election was called a year early – (clashed with my finals) – but pleased there was a first class replacement available in my old friend David Shutt.

    Paradoxically, the thesis was on the Sowerby by-election of 1904, when Libs ruled the roost…… and Charlie Trevelyan in Elland is still one of my heroes.

  • richard underhill. 10th Aug '20 - 6:18pm

    David Raw 9th Aug
    “it will receive a real mauling in the media”
    If it can be simplified and reduced to one factor it provides an obvious opportunity for misrepresentation and omission by Boris, Cummings, Murdoch and co.

  • Catherine, re J.R.F…… I would support a trial (there’s going to be one in Scotland)…. totally agree about the awfulness of sanctions……. but can’t get my head round giving money to such as the Times Rich List…. we’ve got to get round that somehow.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 11th Aug '20 - 1:20pm

    David Raw, thank you for your replies. You say that you object to the idea that the “Times Rich List” would receive Universal Basic Income. But hardly anyone objects to the facts that even millionaires receive the state pension. The point of Universal Basic Income is that it is a “Universal” entitlement. There would be no stigma attached to it, in the way there is a stigma attached to receiving benefits. Obviously there should not be a stigma, but sadly there is. And if everyone is receiving it, even when it is not needed, then if someone suddenly loses their job, they will not have the stress of having to apply for benefits, and waiting with no income while their application is processed. People on “zero hours contracts”, who do not know, from week to week, how much, if any, work will be available, will know that at least they will have some income. The same will apply to self employed people. UBI would make such a difference to the lives of so many people that I really don’t think it matters if rich people get a little richer too.

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