Julian Huppert writes…Why you need to be in the hall at 9 am tomorrow

here are two really important events happening tomorrow at the Lib Dem Conference. One at the beginning of the day, and one right at the end.

I normally spend the Friday and Saturday of Conference just encouraging people to buy tickets for the wonderful #LibDemDisco. It’s a fantastic event, with wonderful guest DJs, and you really ought to be there on Saturday night. Tickets will be available!

But there’s something else I really need you to do – and the party needs you to do, at about 9.10 in the morning, inside the auditorium.

I will be moving a suspension of standing orders to allow us to debate our policy on the EU on Sunday – not just listening through another consultation. This is such a crucial issue for our country, for our party, and for our fundamental values, that we cannot just sit back and wait before determining democratically at this conference what we will do.

Yes, I know, it’s early, on the first day of conference. Yes, I know, you normally don’t bother to attend the Report of the Federal Conference Committee. (Shame!) But this time it matters. We need you there.

Please come along – there will be two votes, and I urge you to vote in favour both times. Vote for us to have a debate at this conference to set a clear, bold policy. Vote for us not to waste time and effort by delaying. Waiting until the next conference, or needing to go through all the effort of a Special Conference, isn’t the answer.

I look forward to seeing you there tomorrow at 09.10 in the morning for the important task of ensuring we do the right thing politically, and then at 10:30 tonight for the important task of dancing and celebrating – hopefully!

* Julian Huppert was the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge from 2010-15

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  • Geoffrey Payne 16th Sep '17 - 6:53am

    I normally agree with Julian and I suspect he will get his way judging from what conference goers have said to me last night. But no attempt is made here to explain why we have to decide this now and why a change in policy would be any better than the current policy that was also agreed at conference not long ago.
    No one has explain why a new policy would be anymore successful than the current one. Other pro EU parties such as the Greens, SNP and PC also lost vote share at the last general election. And now we know how Eurosceptic Labour are under the current leadership they with their weaker policies continue to hold the pro Remain vote.
    How would we like it if we win a referendum to a fairer voting system with 52% of the vote and the governing parties decide not to implement it? That is the dangerous precedent we are being asked to accept in changing what is our current policy which happens to be the best policy under the circumstances we are in today. Under our existing policy we are fully committed to exiting from Brexit.

  • Neil Fawcett 16th Sep '17 - 7:55am

    Those issues would presumably be discussed in the debate? Members can then decide whether they are persuaded by the arguments made.

  • I do hope this fails, and we properly consult on this. The motion being pushed appears to demand that we ignore the June 2016 referendum as though it never happened, and tell people who do think it happened, and that such things should mean something, that we aren’t the party for us. When we’re trailing so low in the polls, the last thing we want to do is anger the greater part of the electorate.

    This doesn’t mean we have to like it, this doesn’t mean we have to become Johnsonian Brexiteers, all bluster and words that signify nothing. But it does mean we need to stop, think, and then proceed, rather than demanding simple ideologically pure solutions to complicated problems. The answer to Brexit isn’t to embrace the A C Graylings of this world – the sneering, eye-rolling, caricatures that our opponents want us to be. It’s to be properly thoughtful, and also a little bit humble. We lost in June 2016. I’d rather we thought about why and how to close that gap, than turn inwards and demand ever higher levels of purity from our voters.

  • Let’s not worry about votes. I know that sounds crazy but hear me out. We have tried that approach. The country needs leadership and that requires a strong sense of purpose and direction , not a wringing of hands over every poll or focus group. Long before this the LDP should have said NO to Brexit. As no other party has said this the 48% plus those leavers who woke shocked to hear they had won and latterly those disenchanted with what they are hearing have no place to express their view. Give them one. Provide a voice for common sense and decency and make it a strong, clear , direct and above all loud one. Now. Before it is too late.

  • Martin Walker 17th Sep '17 - 7:56pm

    Tim – I don’t agree. What we are talking about is a policy position that would be put to the people for them to vote on. I’d prefer that policy to be radical, distinctive, and unapologetically pro-European and internationalist.

    I think it is a real shame that we have allowed ourselves to tacitly accept that the referendum result should be binding for ever more, no matter how negotiations may unfold, how the lies may be exposed, and how public opinion may change (not least because of simple demographics).

    A clear commitment to reverse Brexit, to be put forward at the ballot box, would be distinctive, electorally smart, and perfectly democratic in my view.

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