Federal Executive report and constitutional amendments live blog #ldconf

Ryan’s been warned to get extra bandwidth in, and here we go with the must-see session of conference: FE report, constitutional amendments and a special bonus of election regulation amendments too.
(Most recent additions added to bottom of this post.)
It’s 5:30pm, and The Voice’s reporting team is ready to go. But inexplicably, Conference is still spending time discussing the economy. Don’t they know we’ve got constitutional amendments to discuss?
Economy done with, the crowds flood out, the constitutional pedants roll up their sleeves.
Ros Scott (Party President) moves the FE (Federal Executive) report. She explains the FE’s work, including updates from the party leader and on general election preparations at each meeting. Woo! Woo! Lib Dem Voice gets a mention too – as she explains her use of the site to regularly communicate with the party’s membership about the FE’s work.
Question 1 on progress in implementing the Bones report: Ros Scott gives details, including the creation of the Chief Officers’ Group. The Bones recommendations were split into two parts – those to address before the general election and those after. Hence only some of them have been implemented so far.
Follow up question from Gareth Epps: asks who is in charge of the manifesto given the creation of the Chief Officers’ Group. Ross Scott replies saying the party’s structure is very complicated and the FE has enough on its plate with duplicating the work of other bodies. The manifesto is looked after by the manifesto group chaired by Danny Alexander.
Question 2 on the Chief Officers’ Group: Ros Scott says the omission of details from the FE report to conference was an oversight, and there will be future consideration of how the group should best report to conference.
Question 3 on the number of bodies with responsibility for election campaigns and strategy: Ros Scott agrees there are many. There is a pattern here of her suggesting the party’s structures are too complicated.
Full answers to all questions will be printed in Conference Daily.
Conference votes to accept the FE report.
James Gurling moves constitutional amendment to raise the nomination requirements for Presidential elections in order to require candidates to have a show of support from people from different local parties. Andrew Hudson opposes – arguing there is no reason to change – and then David Williams supports – arguing that given the seriousness of the post, there should be a reasonable minimum. The amendment requires a two-thirds majority and (drama!) just gets it after a second show of hands.
David Williams moves a trio of election regulation changes for federal committees, the party leader and the party president – over arrangements for hustings, electronic availability of manifestos and permitting electronic voting. Says many members have requested electronic voting and it is greener and cheaper. He emphasises the word “may” – i.e. the change would allow electronic voting to happen rather than requiring it to.
Ian Eiloart opposes electronic voting. He doesn’t believe online voting can be sufficiently secure for such high-profile elections as for party leader. Experience of Twitter, Estonia and others shows you can’t rely on systems not being hacked.
James Gurling summates on the regulations. Says the FE has discussed the pros and cons of online voting and isn’t intending to rush in to any new system. Points out that Labour already uses electronic voting and would be a higher profile target. Says regulations would not make electronic voting compulsory.
All three election regulations are carried.

Ryan’s been warned to get extra bandwidth in, and here we go with the must-see session of conference: FE report, constitutional amendments and a special bonus of election regulation amendments too.

(Most recent additions added to bottom of this post.)

It’s 5:30pm, and The Voice’s reporting team is ready to go. But inexplicably, Conference is still spending time discussing the economy. Don’t they know we’ve got constitutional amendments to discuss?

Economy done with, the crowds flood out, the constitutional pedants roll up their sleeves.

Ros Scott (Party President) moves the FE (Federal Executive) report. She explains the FE’s work, including updates from the party leader and on general election preparations at each meeting. Woo! Woo! Lib Dem Voice gets a mention too – as she explains her use of the site to regularly communicate with the party’s membership about the FE’s work.

Question 1 on progress in implementing the Bones report: Ros Scott gives details, including the creation of the Chief Officers’ Group. The Bones recommendations were split into two parts – those to address before the general election and those after. Hence only some of them have been implemented so far.

Follow up question from Gareth Epps: asks who is in charge of the manifesto given the creation of the Chief Officers’ Group. Ross Scott replies saying the party’s structure is very complicated and the FE has enough on its plate with duplicating the work of other bodies. The manifesto is looked after by the manifesto group chaired by Danny Alexander.

Question 2 on the Chief Officers’ Group: Ros Scott says the omission of details from the FE report to conference was an oversight, and there will be future consideration of how the group should best report to conference.

Question 3 on the number of bodies with responsibility for election campaigns and strategy: Ros Scott agrees there are many. There is a pattern here of her suggesting the party’s structures are too complicated.

Full answers to all questions will be printed in Conference Daily.

Conference votes to accept the FE report.

James Gurling moves constitutional amendment to raise the nomination requirements for Presidential elections in order to require candidates to have a show of support from people from different local parties. Andrew Hudson opposes – arguing there is no reason to change – and then David Williams supports – arguing that given the seriousness of the post, there should be a reasonable minimum. The amendment requires a two-thirds majority and (drama!) just gets it after a second show of hands.

David Williams moves a trio of election regulation changes for federal committees, the party leader and the party president – over arrangements for hustings, electronic availability of manifestos and permitting electronic voting. Says many members have requested electronic voting and it is greener and cheaper. He emphasises the word “may” – i.e. the change would allow electronic voting to happen rather than requiring it to.

Ian Eiloart opposes electronic voting. He doesn’t believe online voting can be sufficiently secure for such high-profile elections as for party leader. Experience of Twitter, Estonia and others shows you can’t rely on systems not being hacked.

James Gurling summates on the regulations. Says the FE has discussed the pros and cons of online voting and isn’t intending to rush in to any new system. Points out that Labour already uses electronic voting and would be a higher profile target. Says regulations would not make electronic voting compulsory.

All three election regulations are carried.

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11 Comments

  • Duncan Borrowman 22nd Sep '09 - 9:05pm

    I am actually deeply concerned at the lack of any power that the FE has. Recently I have taken a beating on some websites over things the FE has virtually no power over. Indeed, I find it hard to see what power we do have. I am on the brink of asking for us take back ALL devolved power back to the democratically elected body.

  • Liberal Neil 22nd Sep '09 - 9:49pm

    Responsibility for the Manifesto lies firmly with FE and is being drafted by a group chaired by one of our vice-chairs, Danny Alexander and includes the other two vice-chairs. The chief officers group has nothing to do with it. We take our responsibility very seriously and will not roll over for anyone.

  • Liberal Neil 22nd Sep '09 - 9:52pm

    Sorry, meant ‘lies firmly with the FPC’

  • Jeremy Hargreaves 22nd Sep '09 - 11:04pm

    Neil is of course exactly right.

  • ‘Does anyone else think that the LibDems are holding their worst Conference in years?

    – Calamity Clegg annoyed his own base with the tuition fees U-Turn and then had to backtrack massively over the “savage cuts” remark.

    – Vince Cable outraged his own frontbench colleagues over the mansion tax (the halo’s gone, Vince).

    – Chris “Marginal” Huhne was slapped down for wanting to call Hague a “skinhead” – politics at its cheapest (and proof the LibDems are nowhere near as cuddly as they like to pretend they are).

    – Sarah Teather gave one of the weakest Conference speeches I’ve ever seen (watch her speech on YouTube when she cries “pathetic!”).

    – Ed Davey called for “tea with the Taliban” (the soundbite of the year for the LibDems).

    The Liberal Democrats have BLOWN IT this year. One of the weakest Conferences this Parliament.

    Nick, go back to your constituency, and start drafting letters of apology to the LibDem MPs whose seats you’ve sacrificed.

    Terrible. Just terrible.’

    Could anyone disagree with this summary?

  • John: that’s a pretty good summation of how it’s looked on the outside too, with overwhelmingly negative press coverage. The party has blown it big style.

  • Herbert Brown 23rd Sep '09 - 8:17am

    I suppose items 3-5 are fairly minor in the scheme of things (though I can see “Tea with the Taliban” being used by the other parties).

    But the remarkable thing is that, dismal though that list is, it omits several more things that could be deeply damaging – the idea of means-testing child benefit and the obvious anger of Steve Webb at the way the issue had been raised, and Vince Cable’s proposal to freeze public sector pay. I can see the latter being heavily used against the party in Labour/Lib Dem marginals next year – along with Clegg’s “savage cuts” blunder, of course.

    If the party can present itself so badly in a five-day conference which it has had every opportunity to choreograph carefully, I shudder to think what might happen in the course of a general election campaign.

One Trackback

  • By Quaequam Blog! » Policy Committee says no to Clegg: game over? on Wed 23rd September 2009 at 12:37 am.

    […] Ros Scott appreciates the implications of all this she showed little sign of it in the questions to the Federal Executive yesterday. But she did let slip that the COG was up for review in October. The task of persuading FE members […]

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