Conference Countdown 2015: Reforming the way we make policy

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Ever wanted to get more involved in how we make policy? Frustrated by the process? Well, now is the time for you to have your say.

On Saturday morning (10am in the Dorchester Suite of the Highcliff Hotel) the party discusses possible changes to the ways we make policy. A consultation paper has been published here ca because one obvious analysis of the way we currently make policy is that it optimises opportunity for those who attend Federal Conference, but could be better at involving those who do not.

I would particularly encourage those not at Conference to read the paper and respond.

We need to maximise the talents and life experience not only of the 20,000 new members, but of existing members who aren’t engaged with the policy process.  For a party that believes in evidence-based policy, we could broaden our evidence base ourselves.  Plans are in place to do this later in the year, I’m pleased to say; all members will be receiving more details.

I also chair the group that provides Equality Impact Assessments for the policy process. We need to ensure that we are inclusive in the membership of our policy working groups. Different parts of the UK have differing perspectives, each equally valid; we need to ensure that working groups are accessible to those with caring responsibilities and to other groups who tend to be less well represented in politics.

There are other areas where we are seeking views; and I’ve left till last the one that can get all kinds of people on this site excited. That is the idea of providing some online platform for members to develop policy (and ask about existing policy). While it is certainly something we are keen to have, the question is: how can it be provided in the most appropriate way without stifling debate or duplicating things which other sites, such as LDV, do well already?

This is, I think, the first time the Federal Policy Committee has consulted the entire party on this key aspect of how we operate.  We genuinely welcome all members’ input, and I hope to hear from many of you tomorrow morning too.

* Gareth Epps is a member of FPC and FCC, a member of the Fair Deal for your Local campaign coalition committee and is an active member of Britain’s largest consumer campaign, CAMRA. He claims to be marginally better at Aunt Sally than David Cameron, whom he stood against in Witney in 2001.

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One Comment

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Sep '15 - 7:36pm

    Thanks Gareth. I’ve said for a while that I felt the policy making process could be improved. The main thing that set off my worries was the debate about changing the Bank of England’s mandate. This was something that was slightly market sensitive and I felt the best arguments against the policy were not being heard. I think we need to somehow involve more professionals.

    I liked it when David Laws allowed suggestions from members for policies. I just think some feedback on the ideas would have been good. I provided about four or five decent ideas and didn’t receive any feedback at all.

    I’m not someone who wants to develop policy intricacies on professional matters (which I think is best left to the professionals), but I think I and many others have an instinctive feeling of what will go down well and badly with certain groups of people. As I said, perhaps David Laws nearly had it, but some feedback would have been more encouraging for people.

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