Conference Preview: Saturday 14th September

I thought it might be helpful to have a wee mosy around the Conference agenda and highlight some of the must-see picks of each day.

You can always guarantee with a Conference agenda that there will be at least two things you want to do at any given moment. In fact, if it’s only two, that’s a bonus. On Saturday, I need to split myself into 10 to do everything I need to do.

The age old concept of divide and rule is alive and well in 2013. If you have two highly contentious consultation sessions likely to be attended by roughly the same people, put them on at the same time. So, from 10-12:30, you can either discuss immigration, on which there is likely to be a big row at next year’s Spring conference, or the future of Spring Conference itself. My conspiracy theory rather falls to bits now, because if the powers that be were trying to divide, they would have put them on at opposite ends of the SECC, not next door to each other.

If you don’t fancy either of these things, all Federal Conference representatives are welcome to come along to Scottish Autumn Conference. There you’ll see debates on land reform, business support and, believe it or not, sprinklers. There are keynote speeches from George Lyon MEP, Willie Rennie and Jo Swinson MP. The highlight, though, will be a Q & A with Shirley Williams. I saw her in Edinburgh in July where she spoke about the need for the UK to really develop a relationship with Iran in the coming years. She also said that the rest of the UK would be diminished if Scotland left and talked about Scotland’s contribution to progressive politics.

Federal Conference gets underway with Federal Conference & Policy Committee reports before a debate on balanced working life. This includes some pretty revolutionary childcare proposals that could make a huge difference to people. There’s also new measures on flexible work/leave for carers.

The first major keynote speech, from Tim Farron, takes place.

The afternoon ends with a seemingly uncontroversial amendment to standing orders. There is history to this, though. In Spring, an emergency motion on the economy finished second behind secret courts but wasn’t taken because FCC had determined that it would need the whole 30 minute slot. The amendment up for debate on Saturday is therefore laced with meaning and will be proposed with feeling.

The start of conference rally is usually a dazzling occasion with the party’s favourite orators. This time is no exception. In a “Million jobs” themed event, we’ll hear from Paddy Ashdown, Alistair Carmichael & Kirsty Williams. Glasgow’s Katy Gordon takes the now traditional Leadership Programme speech before Nick Clegg makes the first of four appearances on the Conference stage.

After a busy fringe, there’s the first Members’ Dinner, to raise funds for Jo Swinson’s re-election campaign, where Vince Cable will be speaking. Buy tickets here by Wednesday 11th September.

From there, it’s a short stagger to the day’s true highlight, the Liberal Democrat Voice Awards, at 10 pm, Castle 2, in the Crowne Plaza. Rumour has it that more than one of the UK’s Liberal Democrat leaders will be putting in an appearance…

It would be rude of me not to mention the other events on at the same time – a wedding reception to celebrate same sex marriage and a Liberal Youth get together.

I’ll take a look at Sunday’s delights tomorrow.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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