Conference Preview: Sunday 15th September

This is the second part of my meander through the conference agenda. You can find Saturday’s here.

Those Powers that Be don’t miss a trick, do they? Part of Conference’s job is to scrutinise the party committees. So, when do they put on the report of the most unaccountable committee in the Party, the Federal Finance and Administration Committee? First thing on Sunday morning when many representatives will be sleeping off the effects of the Glasgow ales and whiskies from the night before. Immediately after comes the vote of the Parliamentary Parties. If you have any questions about, for example,  the Syria vote, why there was no whipping on same sex marriage or any other aspect of any of our parliamentarians’ work in the UK or European parliaments, you still have time to submit it, by email to [email protected] by 5pm on Thursday night. If something major occurs after this date, you can submit it directly to the Speakers’ Table by 17:20 on Saturday.

By 10:20, most people will have woken up and will be ready for a good argument. This is the first of several major flashpoints at the Conference.  Not only do representatives have to decide whether to allow new nuclear power, but there’s the argument over fracking to be had. The motion permits it with a number of caveats. There’s an amendment which introduces more caveats, and I wonder if there will be a separate vote as well.

There will be, I think a little more controversy about the cycling motion. Do we want a presumption that the larger vehicle is at fault in any collision? The motion only calls for a consultation, though.

The first debate in the afternoon is to adopt a constitutional amendment as recommended in the Morrissey Report. This should be straightforward. What could possibly be controversial about saying:

As a member of the Liberal Democrats, you must treat others with respect and must not bully, harass or intimidate any party member, member of Party staff, member of Parliamentary staff, , party volunteer or member of the public. Such behaviour will be considered to be bringing the party into disrepute.

There will be some concerns, though, that this wording is so loose that it could mean any slight disagreement could end up in someone being reported and potentially slung out of the party. The counter argument to that everyone is responsible for their own behaviour and like our comments policy says, if in doubt, be extra polite. That really will make the world a better place.

Flashpoint four comes in the Learning for Life debate where representatives will be asked to endorse that the “current system of higher education funding represents the best deal for students and taxpayers currently available.” My guess is that this will go through, although the process won’t be painless for anyone.

The fifth and final controversy comes in the final debate of the day, on online pornography and whether this has any harmful effects at all, and if it does, how it should be tackled by an opt-in filtering system. There will be strong views, as we’ve often seen on this site, from those who think that it does no harm at all and the state should keep its nose out and from those who call for some action to help young people particularly build resilience to such material.

Sunday has two keynote speeches from Ed Davey and Willie Rennie to enjoy as well.

Late night entertainment come courtesy of 4 receptions, all of which are advertising refreshments, so long as you are interested in the Law Society, Business, Azerbaijan or local government. The Social Liberal Forum are having a dinner at the colourfully named Fanny Trollope’s. It’s fully booked, but they are keeping a reserve list if you are interested.


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

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