Further details of special conference published

As reported earlier today by Helen, the party is holding a special conference in Birmingham on Sunday.

More details are now available. First, here’s the explanation from Duncan Brack (Chair of the Federal Conference Committee) about why it is being held:

The Federal Executive has called this special conference to enable the party to debate the coalition agreement reached between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party, and approved by the Federal Executive and the Parliamentary Party, on 11 May…

The motion endorsing the agreement – though not the agreement itself – is open to amendment … The amendments selected for
debate by the Federal Conference Committee will be published late on Saturday 15th May.

I want to put on record my thanks to the Conference Office, our stewards, security and stage set teams, and my colleagues on the Conference Committee, for working incredibly hard to organise this conference as fast as possible.

In holding this special conference we are demonstrating again that we are a democratic party which listens to and trusts its members. However we vote, we will be making history; I hope you will be there to take part.

Second, here is the text of the motion:

Conference notes the outcome of the general election held on 6 May 2010, in which no party secured a majority of seats in the House of Commons.

Conference reaffirms the long-standing desire of the Liberal Democrats to see parties working together in partnership to tackle the serious economic, environmental and social problems facing the United Kingdom and its international partners, and to implement far-reaching reforms to the British political system.

Conference also notes the constructive nature of the coalition negotiations with the Conservative Party, and applauds the efforts of the Liberal Democrat negotiating team, which together have produced a coalition agreement which makes possible the implementation in government of key Liberal Democrat manifesto commitments, including:

1. Fair taxes that put money back into your pocket, including an increase in the personal allowance for income tax, reforms to capital gains tax and a switch from a per-passenger to a per-plane duty for aviation tax.

2. A fair chance for every child, including additional resources for a pupil premium for disadvantaged pupils and greater freedom for schools over the curriculum.

3. A fair future, creating jobs by making Britain greener, including action to reduce the structural deficit while protecting those on low incomes, the introduction of a banking levy, the establishment of a commission to reform the banking system, the creation of a green investment bank and measures to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

4. A fair deal by cleaning up politics, including a freedom bill to restore civil liberties, the scrapping of ID cards, the establishment of fixed-term parliaments, a referendum bill on electoral reform, the creation of a power of recall of MPs and the establishment of a House of Lords elected by proportional representation.

Conference further believes that the coalition agreement represents the best chance to create a stable government that can address the serious economic challenges facing the country in a fair and sustainable manner.

Conference therefore endorses the agreement for a coalition government between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party

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  • Well, the BBC very late last night were reporting Lib Dem Parliamentarians as saying all the MPs and Peers voted against, so you might ask members of the Federal Executive whether that where the dissenter was.

    I expect their identity won’t be made public. Would it serve any real purpose?

    Full marks to Clegg for holding a Special Conference when he doesn’t need to constitutionally. Nothing like making sure you see everyone, get them on board and take the maximium number of people.

    But before the Lib Dems get carried away, there is the small matter of losing a number of seats across the country, and lessons to be learnt from the General Election campaign that should be looked at long and hard.

    Best electoral defeat I’ve ever seen – you come a third and end up with 5 Cabinet seats. I wish you well.

    But I wouldn’t like to play poker with David Laws. Ever.

  • Duncan Brack 12th May '10 - 11:13pm

    Pravin Jeyaraj makes a fair point, but it’s still important for people to come to the special conference. Obviously the party couldn’t wait until after the conference to take up the ministerial posts we had negotiated, but it’s absolutely vital for our new ministers, the parliamentary party and the Federal Executive to hear the voice of party members, as expressed through the conference.

    They need to know what people think in general about the agreement, and in particular what people think are the likely flash points. Just as importantly, they also need to know what you think the priority areas are for further work. The initial agreement is silent or very sketchy on many policy areas (because the negotiators didn’t have time to deal with everything), and further statements are being developed. This is the first opportunity party members will have to input into those discussions.

    And finally, the party needs an opportunity to start thinking about what our role is now we’re in government as a coalition partner. We’ll spend much more time on this at the autumn conference, I think, but this is a good chance for party members to listen to each other on all these topics.

    So I hope to see people there!

    Duncan Brack (Chair, FCC)

  • Foregone Conclusion 12th May '10 - 11:27pm

    May I congratulate Duncan Brack and the rest of the FCC on organising a conference in just a few days, even if it is only a half-conference. This must have required a super-human effort by everyone there. Well done.

  • Afterthought 13th May '10 - 12:35am

    Clegg losing seats only served to enhance his moral authority.

    His New Politics is a reality, for better or worse. Let us work so that it is for the better.

  • Andrew Suffield 13th May '10 - 1:09am

    Clegg losing seats only served to enhance his moral authority.

    Well, gaining votes while losing seats certainly made it very difficult for anybody to argue with him when he says “we need a better voting system”. I’m not sure if that’s quite the same thing as moral authority.

  • Well done to Duncan and his team – a great effort.
    Any idea of the time on Sunday – so we can book cheap trains and the like?

  • I think we can feel pretty sure that ,when the Coalition hits any rocky patches, if not before the Fed Exec member who voted against will tell us.
    Indeed I would not be surprised if more than one person claim it was them!

  • What happens if the special conference rejects the motion?

  • Duncan Brack 13th May '10 - 10:07am

    The conference starts at 1pm and ends at about 5pm on Sunday. The full agenda is up on the party website.

  • “On the voting at the joint FE/Parliamentary Party, Chatham House rule applies, people have to feel able to speak out without prejudice that they will be hounded for their views. It makes discussion and voting more open within the the debate.”

    The problem with that Duncan is that some FE members are elected to represent us grassroots members – a bit hard when we don’t know what they did. They SHOULD expect to be held accountable for their views (or hounded if you like)

  • Re The Conference,

    My understanding that amendments to the agreement (in the form of additions) can be put forward, but none has polled the members on what additions, if any, they would like to see. This website set up a special email for opinions after the election last week, why are you not doing this now? Hardly democratic.

  • Tony Greaves 13th May '10 - 11:26pm

    Well I voted for the coalition and I did so with some enthusiasm and commitment, difficult though it will be at times.

    The person who voted against did so from what might be called a purist PR standpoint. I won’t reveal who it was (though no doubt Liberator will in due course). But I do think the FE should be open and honest about its votes.

    As for the conference I am appalled and shocked to learn that it will be held behind closed doors. I thought we believed in open transparetn democracy and that we believed in running our party the same way. If what I am told is true it is a thorough disgrace. (It will of course be reported but through the distorted lenses of the spinners).

    Tony Greaves

  • Why the hell is this thing in Birmingham???
    I cannot take time off to go swanning up there, paying for hotels and trains just to hear a few rumblings which will have no influence whatsoever on the state of play

    Clegg has no portfolio, no department and no influence…the rest have been given minor roles, apart from Vince (although he still should have been Chancellor)

    We have been royally done over by the tories…wait and see

  • BArry your a bit behind.. Nick has been put in charge of parliamentary reform.

  • Andrea Gill 14th May '10 - 3:04pm

    @Annette @Barry – Indeed. Full title is

    Deputy Prime Minister, Lord President of the Council (with special responsibility for political and constitutional reform) – The Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP


  • Andrea Gill 14th May '10 - 3:06pm

    *sniggers*…. Privy Council…

    (Sorry… bad joke)

  • It’s been widely reported who was the only vote against the coalition in the FE/PPM meeting. Just google it.

    As for the conference, I’m not sure what purpose it serves other than to enable the grassroots to feel involved in a decision which has already been negotiated, made, and implemented. That said, if that is the only purpose, then it’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are going to be plenty of members of the party who threw their toys out of the pram when we began negotiating a coalition, let alone when we actually joined the Government. They all need to be given an opportunity to enjoy the sound of their own voices and demand a return to the impotency and principles of sideline politics.

  • Barry,

    Why not Birmingham? Where do you suggest?

    Birmingham has good road and rail links, and is reasonably central for England and Wales (bit rough for the Scots though …)

    Please don’t tell me you prefer London !!

    [Anecdote alert – in my Young Liberal days – long, long ago – I genuinely heard someone say meetings should alternate between London and Brum, because “London’s central for the south, and Birmingham’s central for the north”]

  • Ah yes, the parliamentary reform dept i forgot. You stupid, stupid people.
    I meant a proper job, and a proper dept (not making tea)

    Privy Council positions like this are normally given to people who are civil servants or have finished their political careers and gone into consultancy for other politicians (like Mandy)

    And for ther conference i believe it is London’s turn

    You chumps

  • Ok Andrea….read below (is his what we sold out to the tories for and went into coalition?)

    As Lord President, he:

    Presides at Privy Council meetings, including any Emergency Privy Councils.

    Considers for approval a number of Statutory Orders concerning Health Care, Veterinary, and Scottish Higher Education matters.

    As a member of the Privy Council Committee for the Affairs of Jersey and Guernsey, reviews Laws and Orders relating to the Islands, and makes recommendations to Her Majesty concerning their approval.

    Deals with Ministerial correspondence and Parliamentary Questions relating to Privy Council Business, such as the appointment of High Sheriffs.

    Determines cases, where the Lord President acts as University Visitor, in a private capacity

  • Anthony Aloysius St 15th May '10 - 3:56pm

    I believe the full title is “Ruler of the High Council, Lord of the Inner and Outer Worlds, High Admiral of the Galactic Fleets, Lord General of the Six Armies and Defender of the Earth”.

  • You forgot “The Grand Poobah”

  • Still a non-job for Nick although he probably still feels like he has got his own way while he has let us all down.

    No pledge on trident, no pledge on tuition fees, no PR, and no decent jobs for the Libdems

    And probably why they are having the conference in Brum is the ‘Con-Demn’ alliance in the council has lasted 6 years

  • @Barry – Nick will still be in charge of the parliamentary party, he will be consulted on all major decisions and he has his own brief on parliamentary and political reform. We haven’t heard what sub-committees he might be involved with yet but… what job did you expect him to have, exactly?

    Actually as far as odd government jobs goes I noticed wikipedia says we now have the minister in the Lord’s responsible for the yeomen of the guard. Woo!

    You do realise how much more expensive it would be for us Scottish Liberal Democrats (remember those?) to have made the conference if it were in London, right? Birmingham has lots of conference venues and is roughly equidistant between Cornwall and Edinburgh – a reasonable compromise.

    I believe we’ll find out the MP to have opposed the deal was Charlie Kennedy; he is featured on the front cover of tomorrow’s Observer explaining “why I refused to back the deal”. The Observer, some will have noticed, was trolling round LibDem blogs looking for comment from those who ‘felt betrayed’. I got the Rage Against the Machine group to give them a good dozen or so reports from people who didn’t feel betrayed and sent them one myself; let’s see what they choose to print.

  • Ray Cobbett 16th May '10 - 8:30am

    What do the fighting rank and file members now do after the generals
    have signed an armistice? I read our guy in the Thirsk and Malton election is looking for a full on
    fight with the Tories. It looks as if he’ll have to be content with firing blanks.
    It’s not clear from the pact where the red lines are and, more worringly, whether there are
    any. I’d hate to think we’re on the way to being the progressive wing of the Tory party.
    The conference, a place to let of steam behind closed doors, but hardly worth 300 mile
    round trip!

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