Conference gets off to a good start

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On the official party website: Conference home

Party President, Mark Pack, opened the Conference this afternoon, paying tribute to members who had lost their lives, or the lives of people dear to them, through the pandemic.

Before that Geoff Payne, the Chair of Federal Conference Committee, introduced us to the studio set at HQ, and I must say that it had all the feel of a real-life Conference, if in miniature, and is far removed from our all-too-familiar Zoom experience. This was followed by a scene setting video showing places all over the UK.

We have our wonderful signers in the corner of the screen – I love watching them. I clearly remember the time, some years ago, when one of them demonstrated the BSL for bullshit, not to mention “I’m not a happy bunny”.

The first business item was to agree the revisions to Standing Orders that were needed in order to carry out the Conference remotely. Voting was really simple – just a click under the Polls tab.

During gaps between items we were shown short videos. I caught one from the Council group at St Albans talking about what they had done for their residents during lockdown.

The chat function is being put to good use – people are diving in to answer questions from first timers , while others are simply meeting and greeting. As far as I can see, chat is specific to where you are, so when you are in the Auditorium you can discuss the motion under debate – something we couldn’t do very easily in real life!

The first policy motion on the agenda was on Improving Mental Health Support for Health and Care Staff, and it proceeded exactly as you would expect. Speakers were alerted in the time-honoured way by asking them to stand by, and the traffic light system was in place to warn speakers about the time they had left. Occasional technical hitches were dealt with calmly.

I’m looking forward to my first fringe meeting shortly, confident that there will be enough room for everyone who wants to attend. And I can also drop in and out to find one that appeals.

Networking was fun – I had a friendly conversation with a random person who was attending Conference for the first time. We had exactly three minutes to chat and were then cut off.

Overall I am pretty impressed by what I have seen so far. It is far better than I was expecting, although I still don’t understand the shiny floor in the studio…

It’s not too late to register for Conference – there are still three more days to go!

* 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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  • Is there a way to watch without registering?

  • Great stuff. A big thank you to all the hard work put in by the conference organisers.

  • Geoff Payne 26th Sep '20 - 7:38am

    Thanks for the kind comments. You cannot watch live without registering, I am afraid, but the sessions will be available on a catch-up service afterwards. Please do register if you can- its much better than just watching. I’m not sure about the shiny floor- it beats the carpet though!

  • @Geoff Payne
    1. I’m not sure whether it will be worthwhile for me to register due to other commitments over the weekend, etc. So when will the “catch-up service” actually be available? Where can this be accessed? Please provide any relevant links.
    2. I am also trying to find the two amendments to the Europe motion at F23. Have these yet been published in Conference Extra? They don’t appear to be included in the versions that I have seen on Mark Pack’s blog page.

  • Laurence Cox 26th Sep '20 - 1:06pm

    The one thing that surprises me about the virtual conference is that the numbers listening to the debates and voting aren’t very different from the numbers when we had physical conferences. I had assumed that the virtual conference format would mean that we had more involvement from the membership, but it looks like difficulty in getting to the conference venue and the cost of attending conference are not limiting factors.

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Sep '20 - 3:27pm

    @Laurence Cox @ 26th Sep ’20 – 1:06pm
    However it could be that some people are dipping in and out of conference happenings and not necessarily staying for whole debates to vote…?

    How many people actually registered for the conference?

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