#ldconf 101 – speaking at conference

This is the third in a small series of articles with what every delegate needs to know about Conference. See also our posts on how you don’t have to be a registered delegate to attend fringe and training events, and how to be a voting rep at conference even if you weren’t elected to that position at your local party’s AGM.

This is perhaps the area where I am least qualified to speak, since I have never given a speech to Conference in the eight or so years I have been attending.

But I have noticed there’s very clear and much improved advice on how to speak during the main debates, with, in particular, a whole page of the Conference Agenda dedicated to tips on how to fill in Speakers Cards to maximise your chance of being called to speak.

Page 9 of the agenda – available online here – is where it’s at.

Essentially, you can only speak if you are a registered delegate at conference, or if you have been given permission by the Conference Committee. Registering for the day is not enough. Both voting and non-voting members of conference can speak. Once you’ve passed that hurdle, you need to complete a speaker’s card, and submit it in good time. Cards are available from stewards in the auditorium and also, on Friday evening, in the foyer of the Conference hotel. You must submit it before the beginning of the morning or afternoon session in which you want to speak – and it helps the chair of the session if you hand it in earlier than that.

Finally, for some debates where there are likely to be a large number of speakers, the standing orders of Conference allow for Interventions. Page 7 of the directory sets out the rules:

There will be interventions during debates F4, F11, F18, F26, F33, F36 and F45. This procedure offers voting or non-voting representatives the opportunity to make concise (one-minute) speeches from the floor during the debate on the motion. Eligibility to make an intervention is the same as for making a speech (see speaking at conference on page 8). There are two microphones in the body of the Auditorium facing the stage. Those wishing to speak during interventions should sit in the designated seats and complete the form handed to them by the steward overseeing those seats. Three lights will be
visible on either side of the stage: the green light comes on at the start of the intervention; the amber light will show after 40 seconds; the red light will come on at the end of one minute and the intervention must stop immediately.

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