Liberal Democrat Special Conference called for Sunday 16 May

Liberal Democrat Party President Ros Scott has announced a Special Conference for Liberal Democrat party members.

Note: advance registration is currently open only to those who are voting members of conference.

From Ros’s email to party members [I’ve added some links] :

You will have seen from the news that the party’s Federal Executive and parliamentary party yesterday approved the coalition agreement negotiated with the Conservative Party.

Both bodies endorsed it overwhelmingly, by much more than a three-quarters majority. The provisions of the ‘triple lock’ procedure approved by conference in 1998 have therefore been satisfied, and there is no requirement for a special conference to endorse the agreement.

However, Liberal Democrats remain a democratic party, and we believe it right to consult our membership on this momentous occasion in our party’s history. The Federal Executive is therefore calling a special conference to take place on Sunday 16 May (1–5pm), in the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

The only item of debate on the agenda will be a motion to endorse the coalition agreement. Registration is now open for the conference, and I encourage all voting conference representatives to register online as soon as possible; online registration will be open until midnight on Friday 14 May. The more people who register in advance, the easier it will be for us to process them.

It will also be possible to register at the NEC in Birmingham, from 1400–2000 on Saturday 15 May, and from 0830 on Sunday 16 May. To speed up the registration process, it will only be possible to pay cash at the venue; if you wish to use a credit card, please register online before the end of Friday.

For the moment, registration is only open to voting conference reps – we want to make sure that we have enough space to accommodate all those voting reps who wish to attend. We expect that we will be able to open registration to other party members soon, but we need to judge the likely demand for the conference. We will send out another email as soon as we open registration to party members who are not voting reps.

The agenda for the conference will be finalised as soon as possible after the coalition agreement has been made public. It will be available on our special conference website later today.

This is a truly historic event, not just for the Liberal Democrats but for British politics. I hope you will take the opportunity to come to Birmingham, participate in conference and make your views known. I hope to see you there.

Baroness Ros Scott
President of the Liberal Democrats

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14 Comments

  • I dare say geting a coference endorsement is to help stop us from losing members over this but it it could backfire. If conference votes no then we lose more members if we stay in coalition and if we pull out after already agreeing to it it could be a PR disaster for us, cause instablility, and potenialy we might not get all our consessions if the condition for them was to form a coalition.

  • Peter Dunphy 12th May '10 - 2:55pm

    A complete and utter waste of time and money – creating an excuse for all of our enemies to demonstrate ‘splits’ and ‘grass roots anger’ even if the coalition opponents are only 10% – they are the ones that will get their soundbites on TV. I suppose I will have to go to make my vote count. And so what if conference does not endorse – do we pull out ? We may as well all pack in politics if that happens.

  • Andrew Suffield 12th May '10 - 3:07pm

    There are numerous reasons why doing this now is beneficial, but the big one is probably this: the next regular conference was going to vote on this issue whatever happens. Doing it now removes a lot of awkward uncertainty a few months down the line.

  • Sorry to appear out of the loop, but what exactly is a “voting conference representative”?

  • Sarah A – Lib Dem conference delegates who are premitted to vote at conference are elected by their local parties, hence the name “voting conference representative.” Any member who hasn’t been elected can attend and speak, but not vote, and is therefore a “non-voting conference representative.”

    I actually think that the conference is important to have, though it does throw up the question “what if it’s rejected?” However I think we’ve come a long way since the 1980s and although I’m certain there will be those who speak against it, it will probably be approved.

    It’s ironic, though, that a process which was designed as a result of Paddy Ashdown’s attempts to form a coalition with Labour through “the Project” is now being used to validate a coalition with the Tories!

  • Michelle Taylor 12th May '10 - 4:37pm

    The conference page says ‘The motion endorsing the agreement – though not the agreement itself – is open to amendment.’ so I’m assuming the ‘debate’ will be over how ringing an endorsement to give the agreement and what areas of concern to express, not a debate with any chance of scuppering the agreement itself.

  • Andrew Suffield 12th May '10 - 9:57pm

    so I’m assuming the ‘debate’ will be over how ringing an endorsement to give the agreement and what areas of concern to express, not a debate with any chance of scuppering the agreement itself

    No, if the members vote to reject the motion then the agreement is off. That’s unlikely to happen though, it seems popular.

    What they’re saying is that conference can’t write up a new proposal – it’s a “take it or leave it” vote. Hence there is likely to be no real debate over the details of the motion, and the debate will focus on whether or not to accept the coalition.

  • I’m sure there will be those who will vote for the proposed coalition simply to keep in line with things. That is not in the party interest, nor in the interest of the country.

  • Just shows that Nick is not a strong Politician at all.. a fair one yes.. but he has the agreement now why open up possible splits?

    One well I guess he still has time to slap Tory Boy Cameron’s back a few more times before it all ends in tears.

    I hope he feels really bad about putting Vince Cable in the position he has.

  • David Raynor 13th May '10 - 1:28pm

    Go endorse the ‘New Tory’ party, it was separately called ‘old Tory and the Liberal Democrats, now it’s ‘New Tory’.

    How did we let the Tory scum take over our party so sneakily???????

    RIP my old party

  • I actually think most of the people harping on aren’t actually members,, they are hanger oners

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