Conference Success for Radical Association

Members of the Radical Association Executive have had a significant impact at this year’s Autumn Conference. I’m extremely pleased with the work that the Executive and our supporters have put into this Conference and thankful for all the time that you have given. Thanks to those efforts we managed to pass a significant policy amendment on each day of the Conference.

Our Director, April Preston, managed to significantly strengthen the party’s new disciplinary processes, with the addition of a proposed AIR (Anonymised Incident Reporting) system. This will allow encrypted initial reports to be made in which both the complainant and accused would be anonymous. The party can then inform the anonymous complainant what actions would be needed and who would need to be de-anonymised in order to turn the report into a formal complaint, and what support might be available to the complainant.

Similar systems in the US have greatly increased reporting rates and we’re proud to say that this will make the Liberal Democrats a forward-looking beacon of best practice when it comes to building a welcoming movement that can take effective action against those who drag our movement down. We are extremely grateful to Becca Plenderleith, Chair of Scottish Young Liberals, for bravely sharing her own experience of being let down by the current system and making a strong case for AIR.

In collaboration with a number of party groups, we managed to significantly amend the immigration paper, ensuring that Liberal Democrats will campaign for all restrictions on income and access to social security for foreign spouses to be lifted. This is a significant win against opposition from the party leadership, and one that will have a real impact on our next manifesto. Radical Association member James Baillie delivered a compelling speech condemning the fundamentally illiberal nature of telling people that they are too poor and too foreign to live with those they love. We are also extremely grateful to Holly Matthies for powerfully sharing her own experience of discrimination under the current system.

Our amendment makes the Liberal Democrat position clearly distinct from the Tory income cap and Labour’s No Recourse to Public Funds rule. We still have reservations about the paper, and we would have preferred to see it referenced back for additional work, but hope that our concerns about areas like the lack of improvements for border force accountability and the continued requirement for employers to snoop on their employees’ immigration status can be addressed in future policy papers.

Liberal economic policy may seem like a more dry subject, but the party’s economic stance is quietly getting more radical again. We’re building a consensus around a number of key areas for economic reform, including a big shift to maximise support for stakeholder driven businesses, and a major shift towards taxation of wealth rather than income. Our Radical Association amendment (kindly also endorsed by the Social Liberal Forum) to the economy paper made it clear that businesses must take more than shareholder profits into account, and that the pure shareholder-owned business model is ultimately outdated in a 21st century liberal economy.

Finally, we were happy to support James Baillie in amending the ‘Demand Better’ themes paper to include a powerful statement of civil liberties and socially liberal values. James delivered a barnstorming speech reaffirming the importance of promoting the party’s most radical policies in this area to the electorate. Rolling back state surveillance, restoring access to justice, reaffirming our commitment to human rights, and ending the criminalisation of drug users and sex workers are all key Lib Dem priorities to build a kinder and more welcoming society, and it’s excellent that we got this amendment passed to ensure that those principles will be part of what underpins the next Lib Dem manifesto.

This Conference was a massive success for the Radical Association, but this is just the start for us. Over the next few weeks we’ll be embarking on a new membership drive, and deciding on our next set of radical policy goals. We’re working towards further success in York – but you’ll certainly hear from us again before long.

If you like what you’ve seen, join us here. 

* Luke Graham is a Liberal Democrat member from Scotland and is Chair of the Radical Association.

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One Comment

  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Sep '18 - 1:25pm

    Luke writes well here and I respect the efforts. Although I do not adhere to his group.

    I am a radical moderate. To me it is why I am a Liberal Democrat. If the second word is decried consistently after what Sir Vince, in his, in my view, very much welcomed phrase, says, I would be a radical moderate elsewhere, in that, the essence of what I believe, would not be represented. I feel in the extreme scenario we are often in, the answer is moderation , often, and this is radical in and of itself.

    I agree with some of the changes Luke shows here, the work of those mentioned to be applauded. But there is, too, a rather worrying trend on the left, whether more libertarian, or authoritarian, it is not what I and many, call Liberal,although, because it gets motions passed, it can make claim to be democratic.

    Having a policy as a party, rather as once upon a time, having it as a conscience matter, on abortion, is radical, but not moderate, everything in the motion could have been pursued as a private members bill, then supported by mps of all parties, rather than a policy,which becomes a posture, that alienates members who, through their own radical conviction, take a different view.

    Luke may be too young or not, to know of David Alton. He was and is radical, but he left our party over this issue,years before, the Party was the poorer for it even as he continues as a cross bench peer, to do good things.

    It is not what was in the policy that is the problem, it is that having it is. We may have lost members, in our party ,but could have gained a Bill in the House, by a different, moderate way of consensus, understanding.

    When our politics, is extremely divided, to be moderates, is radically different.

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