Federal Policy Committee report – 20 May and 3 June 2020

This is the time of year when FPC meetings normally come thick and fast, as we finalise several policy papers to propose at autumn conference. This year of course we aren’t doing that, both because of the current crisis and also because during the autumn when key work on developing them would normally have been under way, attention was also elsewhere.

However we are still meeting very regularly as planned, because we have another significant project of a different kind up our sleeves. We expect the policy challenges facing us all in the wake of the virus to be very different, and so as Sally has previously reported, we have started a significant programme of work to review this across a range of areas. At our meeting on 20 May we reviewed detailed initial work done by FPC members across six policy areas: Social Justice, the Environment, the Economy, the Role of the State, Health & Care, and International. This looked at some of the major challenges in each area, and started to think about what Liberal Democrat answers would be.

The next major stage for this will now be to consult party members about this. This week we discussed in some detail how we will go about doing this, which will be using a specialised online platform. Detailed work with staff is still very much under way on this, but once the specifics are clearer, expect to hear more about how we will do this over the next few weeks. Bringing in the views of a wide range of party members, especially reaching beyond those who already know how to engage quite well with party policy making, is a major focus here, and a lot of work is going into it.

Altogether, this should form the bedrock of some broad-ranging and innovative thinking in response to new challenges which we will draw together further later in the summer and in the autumn.

I’d like to pay tribute to the very many FPC members who have worked very hard on this. It has been a completely new way of working for FPC, producing very wide ranging policy in response to new challenges, at significant pace, and with minimal staff input. It has certainly required a time contribution far above and beyond the usual commitment to FPC. Many FPC members have risen to this challenge with enthusiasm and of course skill; it has been particularly great to see so many members who only joined FPC since the General Election playing such key roles in this.

We also had a first discussion this week about what motions FPC might plan to submit for the virtual autumn conference. We will plan to develop motions on the government’s response to the current crisis, and on plans for Brexit, as well as one arising from our working group on the “nature of public debate”, which proposes policy on important aspects of how information is being used and misused during the current crisis. We plan to submit a motion setting out a strong position on racial inequality and on how as a party we can lead in tackling that. Finally we will plan to put together a motion on a number of aspects of how our systems of government, at all levels, have been shown up to be wanting in the present crisis and how they need to be reformed. Unsurprisingly, we expect this to have a strong theme of decentralisation. Clearly as always the decision about which if any of these motions make it the conference agenda will be taken by the conference committee (FCC). As always it is open to any other group pf party members also to submit their own motions on any topic for the virtual conference in the usual way.

So, as with so many other aspects of life, this is quite an unusual time for FPC, but we are seizing with both hands the opportunity both to develop responses to new policy challenges, work innovatively ourselves, and to involve party members widely in it.

* Jeremy Hargreaves is a vice chair of Federal Policy Committee

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This entry was posted in Blogger Interviews and Party policy and internal matters.
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2 Comments

  • One of the curious benefits of lockdown is we get extra thinking time – perhaps including LDV time. Let’s not waste it.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Jun '20 - 10:26am

    Thank you, Jeremy, and I look forward to hearing about how to access the ‘specialised online platform’. However, as Sally has already informed us of the leaders of the small groups or ‘pods’, it would be good if emails to these leaders were meantime answered, to begin the useful debate. It will also be good to be reminded of the timetable for members to submit their own motions for consideration for debate at our autumn conference. It is good to know that FPC members are working so hard, but ordinary members are also working hard on policy review, and will hope soon be able to contribute.

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