Housing, child poverty, employee privacy, nuclear weapons and energy on agenda for Scottish Spring Conference

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have published the agenda for its hybrid Spring Conference to be held on 11-12 February. If this seems a bit premature for Spring, it’s being deliberately set as far out from the Scottish Council elections as possible. Every council seat in Scotland is up for election in May.

Members will gather in-person in Hamilton and those of us, probably including me, who are too worried about Covid to attend such a big gathering, will be able to join virtually. This will be an important test of how these events can work.  In an email to members, Conference Convener Paul McGarry said that

we are currently monitoring the situation regarding Omicron and the Conference Committee will be meeting in early January to ensure that the Conference is meeting current guidance.

The Hamilton Town House was the scene of a highly successful Conference in 2019 and was the last time we actually gathered in person as the 2019 General Election scuppered our Autumn even that year.

The agenda has much potential for robust debate, including a motion that would see the party take an explicitly anti nuclear weapons stance. And Highland Liberal Democrats call for us to be open to putting nuclear energy back on the menu.

A motion on child poverty adds to our existing policy by tackling barriers to participation in extra-curricular activities for those from deprived backgrounds.

There is also a constitutional amendment which would allow the Leader of the Scottish Party to be chosen from either Scottish Lib Dem MSPs or MPs. Currently only MSPs are available. The Deputy Leader must be an MP at present but these proposals would open the job up to Councillors and MSPs.

Proposals calling on the Scottish Government to adopt a new concept of social buying aimed at people being able to obtain housing in their own communities without being limited to renting have been put forward by Central Scotland Liberal Democrats.

There are two very interesting motions relating to employment rights. The Scottish Young Liberals call for employees to have the right not to be contacted outside their working hours, similar to proposals recently adopted in Portugal. North Edinburgh and Leith Lib Dems have called for regulation of the way employers monitor their employees at home.

Proposals for a measures to tackle long Covid and support for people to exit sex work safely make up the final two motions to be debated.

This is one of the most exciting agendas in years with the potential for all sorts of controversy. You can read the details of all the motions here.

If you think they could be made better, here are the key deadlines for amendments:

  • Monday 24th January 2022 @ noon: Deadline for Amendments and Holding Motions
  • Wednesday 9th February 2022 @ 5pm: Deadline to submit Emergency Motions and Topical Motions for Friday 11th Conference
  • Thursday 10th February 2022 @ 5pm: Deadline to submit Emergency Motions and Topical Motions for Friday 11th Conference


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • The debate about nuclear weapons is existential.

    We’ve had one nuclear war, which fortunately was one-sided and short and the technology was still primitive. So only a couple of hundred thousand civilians were killed at the time. Others died later from associated cancers.

    Once a weapon exists, humans can’t resist. So we await another nuclear conflict.

    Sadly, voters are very attached to a potent nuclear strike force that can wipe out many of the enemy’s population centres. The idea of deterrence is comforting, but ultimately may produce a disastrous bi-lateral war.

    This issue has gone off the world agenda, with so many other pressing issues. There was a push about 15 years ago to multi-laterally reduce stockpiles.

  • Brad Barrows 29th Dec '21 - 5:03pm

    Forgive me being cynical, but an anti-nuclear weapons motion that will be ignored by ‘Scottish’ Liberal Democrat MPs who take the ‘UK’ whip rather than a Scottish Liberal Democrat whip is mere gesture politics. I would take a different view if there were also a constitutional amendment to the effect that the Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto for UK general elections should reflect policy positions supported by the Scottish Liberal Democrats rather than by the Federal party (should they differ) and that Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs should have their own whip… but I doubt the Federal Party would allow it.

  • Matt Haines 30th Dec '21 - 8:59am

    Economic sanctions are a pathetic alternative for a nuclear deterrent.

    It’s been 7 years since we introduced sanctions against Russia for seizing Crimea. And what has it achieved? Nothing.

    Intelligence revealed Russia was planning a large scale invasion of Ukraine in the coming weeks, they have poured tens of thousands of “volunteers” into Donbass, and they still conduct aggressive manipulation of western election campaigns.

    Sanctions are now so ineffective the cost is already factored into aggressive actions.

    Ukraine had the 3rd largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in 1994 before they idiotically gave them up, thinking the world was going to be gentle frolics through flowering fields. They regret that decision.

    Our biggest enemies are an expansionist quasi dictatorship in Russia who have assassinated people on our soil, and a totalitarian dictatorship in mainland China which is threatening to invade the democratic Republic of China. Don’t make us weaker just when we need strength.

  • David Mackenzie 30th Dec '21 - 11:51am

    I am glad that there is an anti-nuclear-weapon motion on the conference agenda. If passed it would be transformative for the Lib Dems status in Scotland. Is it possible to see the text of the motion?

  • It’s telling that, the only time in history when nuclear weapons were used was in 1945 – a time when only one side possessed them. The USSR tested its first weapon 4 years later – 73 years ago. Nuclear weapons have not been used even once during those 73 years. Yes, they are an utterly awful weapon and we must hope that they never will be used. But the evidence of history seems to be that nuclear deterrence does work, which would suggest that keeping them (perhaps pending some kind of international disarmament agreement) would be sensible.

  • @ Brad Barrows A Scottish Whip ? Back in the days when the Liberal Party in Scotland elected 58 MPs out of seventy constituencies (including the Prime Minister in East Fife, the Minister of War in Haddingtonshire, and the Chief Whip in Midlothian) there was indeed a Scottish Whip.

    It’s also a wee while since probably the Party’s most charismatic Leader (from Orkney & Shetland) poured scorn on ‘the so called Independent Nuclear Deterrent’.

    According to memory, as a parliamentary candidate at the time, I think you’ll find endorsement of the ‘so called independent’ nuclear deterrent emanated from the early 1980’s in a deal made with the Owenite/ Jenkinsites in the Ettrick Valley. It narrowly squeaked through Party Conference after much arm twisting.

    Much has changed since then…… including the cost of said nuclear weapons.

  • David Raw,

    I presume you are referring to Jo Grimond’s intervention in the 1962 SKYBOLT MISSILE Talks debate http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1962/dec/17/skybolt-missile-talks#S5CV0669P0_19621217_HOC_261
    “Is the Minister seriously saying to the people of this country that the Government are going on with this policy, which has proved such a disastrous waste and failure? Are they going to encourage the American Government to go on with Skybolt, or to spend an astronomical sum of money on some alternative? Does not this mark the absolute failure of the policy of the independent deterrent? Is it not the case that everybody else in the world knew this, except the Conservative Party in this country? Is it not the case that the Americans gave up production of the B52, which was to carry Skybolt, nine months ago? Does the Minister of Defence read the evidence given before the Congressional Committee, which has been critical of Skybolt for 2½ years? Will he give an assurance to the House that we shall not embark on Polaris without a reasonable estimate of what it will cost, and a more reliable estimate of the chance of success being put before the people of this country?
    Shortly after the debate in Christmas 1962, Harold McMillan met with President Kennedy and an agreement was reached whereby the US agreed to sell the UK Polaris missiles, launch tubes and fire-control systems, which the Royal Navy put aboard British submarines and armed with British warheads.
    The Polaris Sales Agreement became the model for its successor involving the Trident SLBMs developed in the 1970s. Its impact continues today: both the U.S. and Royal Navies are codeveloping the Common Missile Compartment for both the U.S. Columbia-class and the British Successor-class missile subs.

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