#ldconf feedback questionnaire

Liberal Democrat Voice at Conference

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A message arrives from the Conference people asking for our feedback on all matters Conference.

Conference is important to the Liberal Democrats. Your input, debates and votes are vital in shaping the Party’s policies and campaigns, and ensuring that we remain the only truly democratic party in British politics.

So we want to make sure you come back! Your views are important to us, as they help us improve conference year after year. If you attended autumn conference this year, please take the time to give us your feedback. By clicking on the link below and filling out our online questionnaire, you’ll be helping us to improve future conferences.

http://survey.libdems.org.uk/take/634

And as an extra incentive, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win free registration to your next federal conference!

We look forward to hearing your views.

This is your opportunity to get anything that bugged you off your chest or to commend and praise good practice as you saw it. What do you think about the new timing arrangements? Leader’s speech at 4pm on a Wednesday OK by you? How about the prices at the snack bar? All good questions – and plenty of opportunity for free form responses too, if you want to have a go at some of the bad elements of Conference. Our vox-poppers were not too impressed at the number or cost of the internet PCs or conference Wifi service. Perhaps you’d like to mention that too.

And if you particularly enjoyed the LDV events, such as our two fringe meetings on Campaigning after Rennard (shame the rally over-ran and took all our audience!) and Beyond Twitter – as well as the Blog of the Year awards and the Liberal Drinks meeting – why not mention them in your feedback form?

Unfortunately, if you weren’t at conference, you can’t complete the form – the final question is your name, so that they can check whether you were there or not. Which slightly disenfranchises all those who would have gone if it hadn’t been all the way down there on the South Coast. (I’m much more looking forward to a few conferences up in my neck of the woods in Liverpool and Birmingham next year.) Feel free in that case to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

We’d also be very keen to hear from our readers about the LDV coverage of conference. How do you think we did? Did you listen to the podcasts – if so, what did you think? Where you following our twitter coverage of our events? Was that useful? Anything you’d like to see more – or less – of?

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7 Comments

  • 1. Bring it further north still! Glasgow, Edinburgh or Newcastle please.
    2. Glad to see the Leader’s Speech back at the end of conference, where it should be. Though if you’re having conference on the south coast, having it at 4pm means that many conference-goers would need to spend another night in Bournemouth before travelling home the next day – end the conference at about 2pm and there’s more chance of getting back.
    3. Change the constitution to allow any member to attend, speak and – cruically – vote.
    4. Instead of having all emergency debates selected by the conference committee, why not have at least one open to a ballot of registered attendees, so that people can debate and vote on an issue which they have chosen and not the conference committee?

  • @KL Just to address points 3 and 4

    Any member who is a full delegate can speak at conference, however they cannot vote unless they are a local party voting rep (there are often people who do not attend who you can sub for)

    The Emergency motions are already voted on by conference – this year it was housing, pubs, social services and youth unemployment. Housing and youth unemployment won.

  • Susan – thanks for the clarity on point 4 – it’s been a while since I was at a federal conference so I wasn’t aware this had changed!

    On point 3 – I know that any member can attend but not vote, but my problem is with having elected voting reps and substitutes. In most cases, to become a voting rep, you need to be elected by the local party members – which means getting yourself known to local party members. Likewise for substitutes, as this has to be agreed by the local party. It’s also often commented on that there are more voting representatives allocated to each local party than people who actually attend – I’m usually elected as a representative but don’t go – and a lot of local parties don’t actually fill their allocation (which mine wouldn’t if I didn’t stand.) Given that, I’m not sure what the aversion is to moving back to a straightforward “one member, one vote” at conference – the Scottish party is proposing this in its revised constitution.

  • Duncan Brack 29th Sep '09 - 2:16pm

    As Susan says, any party member can attend conference and speak in debates, but entitlement to vote is limited to elected reps, council group leaders, PPCs and parliamentarians. The number of voting reps per local party is related to their membership, and was increased after a constitutional amendment last year.

    A proposal to change the entitlement to allow any party member to be able to vote was debated several years ago (2001ish, I think) and defeated quite heavily. I’m not sure why KL mentions moving ‘back’ to such a system – neither the Lib Dems nor the Liberal Party nor the SDP ever had it.

    More to the point, in most places it is not at all difficult to become an elected rep if you want to be one. And since, as KL points out, some local parties don’t elect their full quota, and some of those who are elected don’t go, what’s the argument for making it even easier to be a voting rep? What’s the problem KL’s trying to solve?

    Finally, on KL’s points 1 and 2, we will be moving north for the next few years, with spring conference in Birmingham and autumn in Liverpool in 2010. We’d like to go to Glasgow or Edinburgh for an autumn conference, but we need the conference centres to be a bit more generous – at the moment we can’t afford what they’re asking. And on the later finish time, let us know what you think via the feedback.

    Duncan Brack (Chair, FCC)

  • Duncan, as far as I can recall the Liberal Party did operate an open system and it was the SDP who had the representative system which was adopted by the Lib Dems – if someone older than me can confirm this wasn’t the case then I stand corrected!

    The point about the representatives is two-fold. Firstly, on principle, I believe that any member should be able to turn up at conference, speak and vote. Secondly, I don’t think that the fact that the number of conference reps is usually undersubscribed is necessarily a good argument for not opening up the system – in fact, it could actually be turned around into an argument for cutting the number of representatives. The fact is that someone wanting to go still has to approach their local party directly and be “approved” by it – and given the lack of contact that many local parties have with their memberships we’re maybe missing a chance to get some members more involved.

    I thought that Glasgow & Edinburgh might be down to the costs!

  • The idea of having one-member one-vote is nice in theory, but it biases policy influence towards the people who can most easily get to Conference – in the example of Bournemouth, people on the south coast (who are generally more able to afford hotels etc. anyway).

    I do agree with KL’s point that there are many defunct local parties and much entrenched power at local party level, but I think that problem needs solving for many reasons, and moving to OMOV would just be curing one symptom thereof.

  • Duncan Brack 1st Oct '09 - 12:27am

    In answer to KL, the Liberal Party did NOT have an ‘any member can vote at conference’ system. This is one of those myths that are annoyingly difficult to get rid of.

    I believe it stems from David Alton’s (then Liberal Chief Whip) attempts to rubbish the 1986 conference vote against the Owen-Steel idea of a ‘Euro-bomb’ (the other myth around that conference was that it represented a vote against all nuclear weapons – that wasn’t true, either). Among other things, he claimed that anyone could wander in off the street and cast a vote. This was not true, even if he was only talking about party members – the Liberal Party had a delegate entitlement system similar to the Lib Dems’ one today. Having said that, it was pretty generous, and – like today – it wasn’t difficult to get to be a delegate if you wanted to.

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