Federal Conference Committee Report Back

Firstly, Andrew Wiseman stepping down as Chair of Federal Conference Committee (FCC) and Geoff Payne’s subsequent election as his replacement left a vacancy for one of two Vice Chair slots on the committee. As has been reported previously on LibDemVoice, Nick da Costa won the subsequent election and joined me as Vice Chair. Andrew’s departure from the committee also left a vacancy for an ordinary member and based on a recount of the original election result we can now welcome Jon Ball back on to FCC.

FCC then had the chance to question a representative of Your Liberal Britain about their current plans. The conversation was wide-ranging, but of particular interest to FCC were concerns that there may be some expectation to automatically select the winner of the Ashdown Prize for debate at Autumn conference. This is not the case, and the winning entry will need to be chosen from amongst motions submitted by other members, local parties etc. as usual.

A forthcoming change that (hopefully!) attendees will notice is the electronic submission of speakers cards, which will include submission in advance of conference opening. We will be trialing this for some debates this Autumn conference, with more details to be published closer to the time when we know what will be on the agenda. There are quite a few back-room processes that need to be got right, including complying with GDPR, but if all goes well we should hopefully have a system that we can use for all events in the main auditorium up and be running for Spring 2019.

There was also discussion of Spring conference feedback both from committee members and attendees. Many thanks to all those who submitted feedback, which has all been read but is far too voluminous to reproduce even partially here. The main points that FCC discussed here revolved around accessibility of Southport to those with mobility difficulties and making conference – in particular, the debates in the main hall – more understandable by first-time attendees. There are already some resources being produced by the conference office that we can publicise more which will help here.

Finally, the committee decided that information on Proposer, Seconder and drafting contact would not be revealed to members ahead of motion & amendment selection. This is because there has been a perception that the names on a motion or amendment have, in the past, influenced selection decisions. While my own experience of selection is that this does not easily sway members, we are keen to avoid any appearance of bias.

There were also confidential discussions around committee membership and attendance, conference security, financial matters and venue selection. Venue selection needs to remain under wraps until officially announced by Conference Office as we need to block-book accommodation to ensure reasonable rates for members.

And of course, no blog post about FCC would be complete without the required exhortation to register for the conference in Brighton!

* Zoe O'Connell is Vice Chair of Federal Conference Committee and Vice Chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • I understand there is concern that the proportion of members from the south of England attending Autumn conferences is much greater than from other parts of the country. Isn’t that inevitable when the conference is held four years running on the South coast? Can we expect to see the conference in other parts of the country in coming years?

  • Kay Kirkham 7th Jun '18 - 12:01pm

    Thank you for the report Zoe. Can I echo John Kelly’s concerns? Also, it would really help to have the information about the Spring Conference as soon as possible so that people can get it in their diaries, book train tickets and accommodation and plan round it for the local elections. The notice for Southport was a bit short

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