LDV Poll Result: Majority of Lib Dem members reject conference accreditation

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Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 560 party members responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Members oppose accreditation 52%-36%

The decision by the party to approve a system of police accreditation for Lib Dem members attending this year’s Autumn Conference triggered one of LibDemVoice’s most vigorous recent comments threads. We asked our sample of members their view:

LDV asked: The party has announced there will be a system of police accreditation for members attending this year’s Autumn Conference citing concerns over security now the Lib Dems are in government, and possible financial liability in the event of any insurance claim being rejected if police advice is not followed. Members opposed to accreditation say that there is no evidence accreditation will increase safety, that it discriminates against transgender members, and that the party has severely compromised its liberalism by acceding to police requests without sufficient cause. What is your view?

    36% – I accept the need for police accreditation for members attending conference
    52% – I do not accept the need for police accreditation for members attending conference
    12% – Don’t know / No opinion

A majority of Lib Dem members in our survey (52%) reject the party’s decision, though a significant minority of 36% do say they accept the need for accreditation. In spite of Tim Farron’s announcement last week of a compromise to help transgender members, this one’s going to run, I suspect. Here’s a selection of your comments:

For the sake of the tiny risk of things going wrong, the Party has taken an over the top, intrusive, illiberal measure.

There is no evidence that it increases security or would prevent anyone intending to disrupt conference (or worse) getting access.

Party members need to grow up, stop the petty navel gazing and accept the realities of being a party of government

Agree for financial/insurance reasons, not on security grounds.

It is noticeable that no one has come out and said what the alleged financial liabilities of rejecting accreditation actually are.

I don’t accept the need but also think there is too much fuss in the blogosphere about this – makes us look self-obsessed and out of touch with the country.

If there is accreditation there should be no opportunity for failure over identification of past gender identity and other personal and sensitive issues. Police advice should be followed where possible, however.

I’m not going this Autumn because it annoys me so much that this has been done.

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 560 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 28th May and 1st June.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    14 Comments

    • All this will do is reduce the number of real activists at the conference and create a conference that is detached from the party collapse that is going on on the ground

    • Peter’s comment is correct. I think I understand why you have published this bit of the survey first, Stephen, but looking at today’s Indy story on membership, I think you should either be drawing attention to how views of LDV members are in sympathy with the apparent views of the 20% + of members who are no longer members after a single year, 2011, or highlighting the clear differences, and wondering aloud how we can get a more representative set of members on LDV. The party is in imminent danger of falling apart totally, and we concentrate on an internal argument. Myopia, or what….?

    • Thanks Dave – I should be contributing articles, and you have given me a timely reminder.

    • Just read your post on the Indy website Dave, and as the occupant of a similar role, I don’t recognise the situation you by default describe. The Indy figures, OTOH, seem much nearer to my experience – maybe 15% rather than 20%.

    • Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera 3rd Jun '12 - 1:13pm

      “All this will do is reduce the number of real activists at the conference…”

      I could not agree more with Peter.

      As I have mentioned elsewhere, it is not only our Transgender colleagues (my desire here is to say ‘brothers and sisters’ , but this is from a past political affiliation) who may be put off from attending as a result of the FCC apparently acquiescing to the intrusive requests (not demands) of Sussex Police, but many others as well.

      Although I am a former police officer, and close protection officer, I am only too aware of the arguments that I would have once stated for the need for greater security, but accreditation raises the question for me, “just how democratic are we as a Party?” for to some, Conference is already seen as too elitist and exclusionary, and accreditation will merely make ‘entrance to our club’ even more difficult.

      As a Party, I would argue that we would benefit from putting in place policies, procedures and practices that will ensure that we are even more inclusive, and not less.

      Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera
      Liberal Democrat English Party Diversity Champion
      Liberal Democrat South Central Region & Newbury – Executive
      Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrat (EMLD) – Executive

    • Andrew Suffield 3rd Jun '12 - 5:39pm

      All this will do is reduce the number of real activists at the conference

      What’s a “real activist”?

      Of course, what matters is not the LDV poll result but the vote at last Autumn Conference against accreditation, which passed despite many people opposed to it not being at Conference.

      That’s the same misleading statement you’ve been making on other articles. Two amendments were proposed: one which would reject accreditation and one which would endorse it. Conference rejected both of these. Instead, the motion passed just expressed annoyance and called for the parliamentary party, FCC, and president to “protect” the constitution and internal democracy of the party, while avoiding any specifics. Nobody was really satisfied with this outcome. Worse yet, the motion said nothing about what the FFAC should do, and in the end they’re the ones who made the decision, on grounds that were entirely unrelated to what the motion said.

      It was a bad motion that failed to really address the issue. The best way to resolve this will be via the committee elections. Then we can hopefully put this to bed and not have any more endless arguments about it.

    • A real activist in my view is someone who is not a full time paid politician, or staff member…dedicates hours of work to the party and covers their own costs to attend any event. (That group of people who seem to be leaving our party in droves as they loose their seats and motivation)

    • I’ve just registered for conference, as a result of which “they” now know slightly less about me than do Tesco Clubcard or British Airways. Yes, those data miners have my PII voluntarily.

      But presumably transgender people need a tax record and a credit record like everyone else, they need car insurance and so on. All those things need “history” and someone has the truth on record at some point.

      Would it be a pragmatic compromise if accreditation asked for other identities in the previous “X” years (say 5) rather than “have you ever…”?

    • Martin Pierce 4th Jun '12 - 10:52am

      I was one of the party members who took part in the poll. Given the rather good range I felt of important and useful questions asked, about bow the coalition is doing (or isn’t), Nick’s future and how our ministers are perceived amongst others, I find it hard to believe the entire results article is dedicated to conference accreditation!! Folks, allow me to let you in on a secret – the electorate doesn’t care about conference accreditation. We are at a 20 year low in the polls and have been for 18 months. We are experiencing a gradual 4 year wipeout of our local campaigner base, everything we’ve built up in the 30 years I’ve been a member. And we’re talking about conference accreditation? Wake up!

    • Martin – as above in comments on this – I agree with you. However, as in previous polls, I am sure Stephen intends to comment on other aspects of the poll results in future. I imagine the Bank Hol has delayed his next instalment!

    • Martin – usually these things are reported over 4-5 different posts one about each set of questions.

    • Alec Dauncey 6th Jun '12 - 2:43am

      Martin said it all. I simply cannot see this as an issue worth thinking about. I hope that if I was transgender I’d take any hassle with good humour.

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