Opinion: Less than 2% of members will vote at Conference: this is not an ‘internal democracy’ of which we can be proud

We make much of the fact that we’re the most internally democratic of the political parties. We say that it is our members who vote on policy, elect those who organise our conferences, and those who hold our party officers to account.

But in reality, it is just a fraction of our members who perform these functions: less than 2% in fact.

Of our total membership, just 5% are appointed as voting representatives. Of this 5%, just 1.63% have – as of today – registered to attend our forthcoming Autumn conference (these figures were provided to the FE sub-group tasked with looking at One Member One Vote). That means that just 1.63% of our total membership are entitled to vote and have registered for conference.

Of course, the number of registered voting reps may go up in the next two days, but based on the numbers registered for previous conferences, it’s unlikely to even double. Of those that are registered for conference, we know that not all of them will be in the main hall to vote on the numerous motions.  Maybe 1%, if that, are taking the decisions on party matters.

Oh, and did you know that 68 of our 413 local parties don’t have any voting reps at all, either because they’ve not appointed any or because they are not entitled to any? They have 2,566 members between them. Talk about a ‘postcode lottery’.

Is this an internal democracy of which we can be proud? No – I don’t think it is.

On Saturday, these 2% of members give or take, have the chance to vote for One Member One Vote.  You heard it: One Member, One Vote.

There will be those who oppose it, and vigorously so. Some of them friends of mine. But on this issue, we have agreed to disagree agreeably.

Universal adult suffrage was introduced under a Liberal prime minister, David Lloyd George, in 1918. The arguments against One Member One Vote were defeated 96 years ago.

Just a few weeks ago we trusted 16 year olds to vote on the future of the Union, and in calling for the repatriation of powers to the local level, we are saying that we trust people up and down the country to run their own affairs. Surely then, in an age of dwindling political party membership, if members of the public feel so strongly about our cause that they take the unusual step of joining our party, then we should trust them to vote on our party policy and to elect their federal representatives?

If OMOV is agreed, then the party’s constitution and standing orders will need to be updated. In the spirit of transparency, these changes have been outlined in two associated motions. Despite best efforts, the motions give rise to unintended consequences. But with new amendments tabled, I hope we can cut this particular Gordian knot.

Either way, the principle of One Member One Vote stands, and I implore Conference reps to support it.

If you agree, we need to hear your voice loud and clear. Please tell the 1-2% in the party who currently make decisions on your behalf why you want One Member One Vote.

* Daisy Cooper came second in the contest to become Party President in 2014. She is on the party’s Diversity Engagement Group. She is the Parliamentary candidate for St Albans.

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50 Comments

  • Simon Oliver 2nd Oct '14 - 12:52pm

    couple of minor quibbles (I agree with the gist)

    voting reps are elected, rather than appointed, and are therefore representing their whole local party. What percentage of local parties have at least one representative at conference?

    “Of this 5%, just 1.63%”
    By my calculation, this is 0.0815% of the membership

    If the 1.63% is a proportion of the membership as I think you intended, the sentence should read “Of this 5%, just 32.6%”

  • Good luck with this Daisy. I fully back this – the voting rep system disenfranchises party staff (who we should be treating well post rennard) and encourages cliques.

  • I don’t understand how some local parties are not entitled to any reps – surely this is a mistake.

  • John Roffey 2nd Oct '14 - 1:40pm

    OMOV should be quite easy if online voting were used. Stephen Tall’s member surveys are likely to be more representative of the members wishes than those expressed at Conference.

    Members who are not online could use postal voting.

    Perhaps the leadership are not keen on acting in accordance with the members wishes – it is possible.

  • Hope it goes through.

    The other issue that needs addressing is the cost of attending a conference.

    Not everybody has lots of spare cash to spend on this.

  • Joshua Dixon 2nd Oct '14 - 2:30pm

    If all we do is extend voting rights and do nothing to tackle access then the only extra people voting will be party staff and MPs workers who weren’t already reps. Woo, democracy!

    I agree with OMOV in principle but we need to make sure we’re making our events accessible to all. I’ve spoken to a few people who would love a vote but are annoyed that these proposals do nothing to make conference attendance easier for them.

  • Daisy Cooper
    Using the same arithmetical approach, can you remind me how democratic the House of Commons is?
    or the European Parliament?
    Unfortunately democracy and arithmetic are not the same thing.
    The membership of the party is not equally distributed around the UK. I belong to a local party which if I recall correctly has getting on for 500 members although goodness knows who they all are because we do to have that many activists. My guess is that the biggest 20 local parties account for about a quarter of the party’s total number of members. Somebody might like to confirming my guess is correct.

    Let us assume that there are 20 local parties with a membership of 500, In that case 10,000 of the party’s 40,000 members will be from places like the one I live in ie with councillors, an MP and lots of middle class people with enough spare cash to not notice the annual subscription.

    This is just guesswork on my part but someone will know the actual numbers.
    Is anyone prepared to tell the truth about the distibribution of our 40.000 members?
    Are they mainly from middle class constituencies in the South East of England with a few thousand Scots thrown in to make up the numbers?

    There is more to this internal party democracy lark than meets the eye.

  • Caracatus
    I take your point —– and to extend it slightly — Imagine how awful it would have been if that party membership had been asked whether Nick Clegg should remain as leader after the disaster in May 2014?

  • Denis Mollison 2nd Oct '14 - 2:55pm

    I’d be pleased to see OMOV if it meant that all members could vote, whether they attend conference or not. With conference debates on the BBC and online voting it would be a welcome exercise in mass democracy.

    But if OMOV applies just to those attending conference, I’m against it. It might double or triple the numbers voting, but that would still be a tiny fraction of our overall membership, and it would introduce substantial wealth and geographical biases. I prefer the current system of representative democracy.

  • Richard Dean 2nd Oct '14 - 3:10pm

    Going to a conference is expensive and unusually disruptive of other social activities – activities that political action ought to be protecting. So, the present system dis-enfranchises the poorest and the busiest in our society.

    Definitely not something LibDems should be proud of, in an age when the internet is sufficiently real-time and secure that people can make Skye phone calls and buy things do online bank transactions through it.

  • A Social Liberal 2nd Oct '14 - 3:22pm

    In my branch we have the ability to elect four voting conference delegates. This year only one of them is attending conference. Digital OMOV might encourage more people to vote, OMOV where we have to turn up to conference will not.
    Therefore I would put my name to digital OMOV – so long as each debate is streamed on the internet (not a hard or expensive thing to arrange)

  • Sue Doughty 2nd Oct '14 - 3:39pm

    There are two separate issues here – attending conference itself and the cost, and having the right to vote at conference when you get there. At present we are addressing the 2nd – there are lots of issues about extending the votes on policy to those not at conference including whether it would result in fewer not more attending conference and possible losses being sustained by the party which could threaten the future of conference itself.
    However voting at conference still has all the problems Daisy outlines above. The party in Scotland allows all its members to vote and there has been an increase in numbers attending but not sufficient to cause problems with the venue. We do of course discuss such matters with FCC who have the responsibility to management of conference, venues and voting and they are broadly supportive while being alive to the issues and potential problems. However this is not a good enough reason to deny our members the right to vote if they attend conference. And yes, I’m not able to get to conference this year because of caring responsibilities and I know that this means not only missing the vote but all the other benefits of going to conference – great briefings at the fringe, excellent networking and the chance to hear colleagues bring their experience to the debate from which we all learn. One final point on costs, in York much more was done with the local party to provide cheap accommodation, for example with members. If we were to do more of that we could really cut the costs of accommodation which are such an issue to those who are less well off. Conference has to pay for itself, the party cannot afford to subsidise it, but cheaper ways of attending conference are being developed all the time.

  • Denis Mollinson’s comment is on the money for me – it would distort things further by allowing all conference reps to vote, rather than all members. Postal / Online voting for non-attendees can’t be beyond our abilities to arrange.

  • Jonathan Pile 2nd Oct '14 - 4:49pm

    Daisy – you are absolutely right on OMOV – more key party decisions ought to be organised on such a more democratic basis rather than in the hands of a few thousand committed but untypical activists . Obviously many decisions ought to be decided by elected representatives who can debate and decide at conference but clearly there must be a role for affordable online OMOV voting which can see a majority of party members deciding major decisions. It seems to me if we had balloted members in 2010 & 2011 about some of the right wing policies we were being compelled to support such as Bedroom Tax or Tuition Fees, we wouldn’t have lost half our members and half our voters. I personally believe that a ballot of members would not support HS2 in it’s current form, a policy being railroaded through by a few thousand “train minded” inner party apparatchiks whatever the cost and whatever the damage to local communities in the face of 52% of the public opposed.

  • Conor McGovern 2nd Oct '14 - 5:29pm

    Daisy for Party President. 🙂

  • Sue Doughty 2nd Oct ’14 – 3:39pm
    “. . The party in Scotland allows all its members to vote ……”

    Sue,
    Can you remind us how many members the party in Scotland actually has? Is it more or less than 5,000?

    If it is less than 5,000 then it is a very different kettle of Arbroath Smokies from a party of 40,000.

    Unfortunately this discussion in LDV is along place in a vacuum with key faction membership facts being unavailable. A lesson for those who think decisions on policy and internal party democracy can all be done “on line”.

    Is there any real evidence of a deep rooted demand by the 40,000 to vote on line, or any their way?

  • Harry Hayfield 2nd Oct '14 - 5:35pm

    It would be nice if it was possible to vote on motions having watched the discussions on BBC Parliament. After all they are shown LIVE without commentary and with social media as it is, I dare say that a simple #YES or #NO vote would count.

  • Sue Doughty 2nd Oct '14 - 5:46pm

    John, sorry I don’t have that information.

    Colin, any party with less than 30 members is not entitled to sent conference representatives. In theory they are under the wing of the regional party but if a party is very weak, the chances are that its members are not very engaged locally.

  • Sue Doughty 2nd Oct '14 - 5:50pm

    Remote Voting on Conference Motions
    Aside from whether this is desirable, which is outside the scope of what we have been doing, there is a further issue rather more important.
    We need to be absolutely sure that the technology is right, that people could only vote once and that voters were validated. It would be expensive for the party to implement, and our members would quite rightly criticise FE and FCC for supporting this if the system failed. The party has plenty of challenges in ensuring that its membership data is current and available to the right people. It also has to make conference pay its way, and there is no evidence that if people watched and voted remotely that attendance figures would continue at the level which makes conference and excellent experience as well as profitable. With our current focus on campaigning and rebuilding the party it is hard to make a case to spend money in this direction.

  • Sue Doughty 2nd Oct '14 - 5:51pm

    And no, there is no substantial demand for on line voting.

  • How would you know?

  • actually I argued here ages ago that the conference system was far from democratic (think it was the last time nuclear weapons were debated) – it is slanted toward those with time, or axes to grind, or who
    just know how to get there. VR consultations in real
    time could hardly be impossible to arrange!

  • I don’t know how anyone “knows” there is no demand for this, but I am a young and busy member who finds conference too much of a challenge to get to around my work commitments. I joined a political party because I want to be engaged with politics and I would welcome the chance to influence and have my say on party politics. We to often forget in our love for our constitution and rules, that we are not trying to run a country within our party, but an organisation that seeks to change our country instead. That organisation should embrace all 40,000 members, who let’s not forget have joined because they are engaged and find Liberal politics match their own beliefs.

    Besides, let’s not forget that most people who are reps are those that have the time, stamina and determination to sit through a three hour AGM, organised and attended by the same clique of friends that has ended up running their local party.

  • As John Tilley said, by Daisy’s argument the UK is not a democracy as only around 0.0001% of the population gets to vote on legislation. That’s nonsense of course since that calculation entirely misses the point – both the UK and the Lib Dems are, in theory at least, representative democracies, not participatory ones on the lines of ancient Athens.

    We should instead ask: what type of democracy works? Which version actually helps advance the cause of liberalism?

    Back in the 1950s when the Parliamentary Liberal Party could (allegedly) hold its meetings in a telephone box it probably made perfect sense to run things that way and many private clubs and the like continue to organise themselves this way perfectly well. BUT, as far as I know there is no SUCCESSFUL example in the world of a large organisation that works this way. We have the structures of a representative democracy but the instincts (dating back to a bygone era in my view) of a participatory democracy and that mismatch doesn’t work which is why the Lib Dems are perennially stuck in a rut as a minor irritant to the governing parties. Even when chance decrees a hung Parliament they are unable to capitalise on the opportunity.

    Then again it’s not clear why lifting the percentage voting from around 1.63% to perhaps 3% or 4% or even 10% would make much practical difference to outcomes. Would these extra voters have different or better insights into the issues? Are they going to support materially different and BETTER policies than the existing Conference reps or is this plan not really about improving policy making and governance at all? These are questions the supporters of this proposal need to answer.

    Actually, I do agree with Daisy to a point; the Lib Dems are not really a democratic party. As we have seen in the last few years Conference can pass whatever motions it likes but the Leader can and does just ignore those he doesn’t like – and not just because circumstances have changed but because his ‘vote’ trumps all the rest put together. In a democratic party a leader who ignored the sense of the party would be out so fast his feet wouldn’t touch the ground. The power to evict is what would enfranchises the membership, not the power to have an irrelevant and meaningless vote.

  • For those stating that conference voting reps are elected and are therefore effectively representing the democratic will of their local parties, it misses one fairly important point.
    It is my understanding that voting reps cannot be bound by their local parties, hence they may say they will vote one way but are at liberty to vote in opposition to their local party’s view. That is not even counting that it would be highly impractical for any voting rep to obtain their party’s view on every matter (impossible even, pre-debate), or to elect a rep on the basis they agree with the majority on all positions.

    It should also be considered that conference attendees are very unlikely to be a representative sample of the whole membership. They are those who can afford to attend, to take the time off if they are working, and less likely to have childcare to have to manage. While I have no proof, it seems entirely plausible that those able to attend might hold views not representative of the wider membership, particularly on economic or family matters.

  • What James said.

  • Maria Pretzler 2nd Oct '14 - 9:05pm

    I think it’s simply wrong to assume that OMOV at conference would make the vote any more representative.

    What you get at conference are predominantly people who are fairly well off and/or don’t have a 9-5 job (with advantages for people with jobs somehow related to politics). My job, for example, is quite flexible at term time, and completely inflexible in term time. I wonder whether this year, the vote contains fewer academics than usual!
    Let’s not kid ourselves: the ability to get to conference is the big skewing factor, not the voting rep system.

    With OMOV, the one thing you’d do is to make the vote regionally more skewed. In fact, I am a bit worried to hear that the Scottish party lets everybody vote – in a year when conference is in Scotland, this is not a good recipe for an even distribution of votes at least by region.

    OMOV can’t make conference more representative of the party or the population as a whole, but it would make the vote less representative in terms of region.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea.

    ***

    There is one other issue: we have to avoid vote skewing voter recruitment drives among people living nearby (could be many if you are in places such as Manchester of Birmingham) once the agenda is known. Even if we have OMOV, we ought to restrict access to voting passes in some way during the time after the agenda has been published.

  • Stephen Donnelly 2nd Oct '14 - 9:44pm

    Saw this comment from Simon Oliver “voting reps are elected, rather than appointed, and are therefore representing their whole local party.?”.

    I have moved around a bit, maybe eight constituencies, representing the whole range from stronghold to derelict over 30 years. I have never know an open contest for conference reps outside of ULS/Young Liberals. In fact the whole thing is usually kept under wraps by a small controlling group. As William Hobhouse points out, if you move, you are ‘out’. I suspect that in some constituencies the secretary holds a virtual block vote for party committee elections.

    The present system is democratic in much the same way that the freemasons are open and transparent, but the good news is that we are better than both ‘main’ parties.

  • Tony Greaves 2nd Oct '14 - 11:53pm

    The Young Liberals in the late 1960s allowed all members to attend and vote at conferences. I assume this was the case until they were closed down (merged) at the Merger in 1988.

    Memory tells me that I moved the relevant amendment but that might be wrong!

    Tony

  • Jonathan Brown 3rd Oct '14 - 12:57am

    I don’t think OMOV would make our internal democracy more representative – it might even make it less. My support for it, such as it is, rests on one point only:

    If someone can be bothered to join our party and go to conference, they ought to be able to participate fully. Indeed, being able to influence the party should be a key argument in convincing people to join.

    I’ll listen to the debate on the motion and ammendments before deciding which way to vote, as there sound like a lot of problems with them, and associated issues left unaddressed but I’ll keep an open mind.

    One thing I would like considered in the discussion on extending the vote to those who can’t attend (and this is the 21st centure where people expect to be able to do things remotely, so we ought to be looking at how we can implement this rather then whether we can) is ‘local party conferences’.

    It shouldn’t be too hard for local parties to hold mini conferences for people to watch the debates, and then vote. This would be a way of ensureing that a) people were at least present for the debate and had the chance to watch it (i.e. the same standard we ask of conference reps when they vote) and b) votes were cast electronically by the real member, and not by a friend or family member who’s logged in from the privacy of their own home.

    It would also be an opportunity for less dynamic parties to engage members and encourage potential new members to join as it would be something quite exciting to take part in.

  • Jonathan Pile 3rd Oct '14 - 7:31am

    What James Said too. I run a small business and can’t afford time off to go to conference. Will conference be debating issues important to sme’s like scrapping the scheduled ending of small business rates rebate due to finish on 31 mar 2015 – many sme’s will be priced out of their premises a month before the general election.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 3rd Oct '14 - 8:58am

    John Roffey,
    I agree with OMOV for every member – especially now we have the technology to do that more than prevously – if not the will to make it work. However, members might have to wait for collation to be completed and that process could approximate to the time it takes to collate voting by STV at GE etc. [where we have it]. There will always be people who support easy Tory methods of counting in this respect but the point is – modern methods are doable if there is the will to be more democratic.

  • Julian Tisi 3rd Oct '14 - 11:26am

    “Members who are not online could use postal voting.”
    No, no, no – the cost would be prohibitive for the party but as importantly it would mean that the people voting might not have followed the debates.

    I’ve been to many debates where the speakers have swayed my opinion and I’ve voted a different way to the way I might have voted had I not heard the debate and just voted based on what was in the papers. This is I believe an important element to our internal democracy – that the arguments are heard, listened to, then voting takes place at the end based on the people there.

    Could we improve this and improve participation by allowing streaming of debates and online voting? Perhaps, and if it could be done I’d certainly be open to this. But unless I’m convinced a good and fair way is practical I’ll stick with the status quo. This is in fact one such debate where I’m planning to attend, listen to the arguments and make up my mind then.

  • Best article by Daisy so far I thought, we won’t get anywhere without some serious changes to internal democratic process and this sounds like a good place to start. The arguments against have been quite unconvincing, so I hope the 2% decide broader participation will help strengthen the party.

  • re: ” “Members who are not online could use postal voting.”
    No, no, no – the cost would be prohibitive for the party but as importantly it would mean that the people voting might not have followed the debates.”

    Have to disagree with thrust of this.

    Firstly postal voting isn’t all that expensive – I suggest you take a look at the Electoral Reform Society’s tariff. A few years back a professional society I belong to raised this as a reason for changing the way it operated – namely become more centralised. Unfortunately for those who wanted (and would benefit from) the change, I was able to show that the biggest part of the costs wasn’t the voting papers, but the 6mm thick glossy brochure pack (hence larger than A4) they insisted had to be sent out, by stripping out the gloss all the relevant voting materials would comfortably fit in a smaller and Post Office standard sized mailing and hence cost a quarter of the budget the select few were citing as the cost of a mailing. However, I suspect that if the LibDem’s so desired they could use their local party structure to facilitate distribution and collection. The big challenge I see with postal voting, is being organised, so that briefing papers are prepared and sent out in good time so that people can vote or decide to attend.

    With respect to people missing the floor debate, well this happens all the time; every time I complete a postal/online vote for an organisation or company general meeting, I miss the nuances of the floor debate. Yes I’m aware that there have been times when attending a general meeting the floor debate has been enlightening and swayed my opinion. However, that has become less frequent as people have got used to the disciplines of ‘postal’ debate, supplemented by online and local group debate, plus one society now gives five options: For, Against, Floor majority, Proxy decides, Chair.

    The question surely is whether a vote restricted to those present at some venue is somehow more democratic and representative than a vote open to all members who will not have had the benefit of hearing all the arguments. In some respects it seems that perhaps those arguing for only allowing those present to vote are also in favour of saying that MP’s should only be elected by those present at the hustings…

  • Sue Doughty 3rd Oct '14 - 2:58pm

    Caracatus In answer to online voting on policy my concern is about the integrity of the vote. Either being able to vote multiple times, or the system failing altogether leaving members angry and frustrated. In the long run we could take a look at this, but given the complexity of the issues, I believe we would need to work very closely with FCC to go this route. Maria and Caractacus, at this stage we are looking to widen the democracy of the party and agree that cost is an issue but we felt that change is best done gradually not wholesale. You might also be lucky with your local party and getting conference places. but this is not universal especially if your party has less than 30 members – no allocation of places means no contest.

    Julian – the proposal is for online or postal voting (according to member preference) for committees only. If we can get this tied in to the same cycle as the presidential election which is an all member vote the costs will not be as great. I certainly agree all your points about taking part in debates.

    All, please stop jumping to conclusions about the real reason for this. I can assure you its not money but about opening up access to all members such as William and to recognise that not all local parties are encouraging our members to attend conference and to vote in policy debates. The majority of new members join to get involved in politics according to new member surveys. The money side is important. Most members believe that the Lib Dem conference, which is far less of a set piece event is of real benefit to our members and the time when they can participate in decisions, and gain so many other benefits too. The debate which took place about Spring Conference demonstrated that very clearly. However the party cannot afford to run it at a loss, and venues have to be booked up well before FCC knows what attendance is likely to be. If previously attending members or those who might otherwise attend stayed at home we would not only have a financial problem, but the quality of debate would be much poorer. Yes you might be able to do some things on line. For example contributing short comments or texts but at this stage FCC very understandably would want to think about this because current voting arrangements are much more complex than might be thought. This is why we made no proposals in this direction although perhaps in the future, if proposals are made this would overcome this of course they should be considered. As a former project manager, I’m well aware of the costs of bedding in systems and ensuring they are fit for purpose and this would cost us.
    Maria, the regional bias already exists. The only way to overcome it is to keep on moving around as FCC try to do.The issue about costs, family responsibilities etc is a real one but OMOV cannot address this and does not purport to.

  • Nigel Jones 3rd Oct '14 - 3:34pm

    We definitely need to rethink conference and its voting. This particular conference does not seem to be the right kind of event leading up to the General Election. The manifesto motion covers so many areas (inevitably) that it should have been split into a number of major debates, replacing the minor ones being debated. That way, those attending would have had a better chance to really air their views. I do not understand the FCC organising this conference as though it was a normal one; the timing and circumstances require a very special event.
    As a retired teacher, I have been uneasy about not enough people in the conference hall understanding the issues put in Education debates; I suspect this is because teachers in particular are not able to be present, due to timing (it is absolutely impossible for a teacher to have time off during term) or pressure of work.
    As to some local parties not having any reps. it is a fundamental mistake that we have a minimum of 30 members for a local party; any local party that has about 6 very active members needs the encouragement of a real say in party affairs; that is the way to grow our party in those many areas where we are very weak.

  • Simon Banks 3rd Oct '14 - 8:05pm

    Many elected conference reps can’t afford the time or money to attend year after year. Many members who would like to influence policy can’t afford it either. But at least at present they can question and lobby their local party’s conference reps who are attending and receive and question a report from them at the AGM (that’s a constitutional requirment for such a report to be given). These links could easily be strengthened – for example, requiring local parties to notify all members who’ve agreed their e-mail addresses can be used of who the reps are and how to contact them. I e-mailed all such members of our local party a report on Glasgow last year.

    So why is abolishing the link between local parties and voting conference reps a step towards empowering the members who can’t attend conference? Voting reps would no longer have any duty to report back or any reason to take notice of the views of other members. A glance at the numbers of voting reps local parties are now entitled to shows very few people who wanted to attend and vote would be prevented, unless their local party is too small to count. That could be corrected by allowing adjoining local parties to add them to their lists.

    The other part of OMOV is more reasonable – though only if candidates have to submit short statements and the attendance records of candidates standing for re-election have to be sent out with them, things I understand are not currently proposed.

  • Stevan Rose 4th Oct '14 - 3:53am

    If the Nationwide Building Society can find a way of all its members having a vote using postal and online as well as personal votes, I’m pretty sure a political party can do likewise. It is hardly surprising that there is so much apathy surrounding politics in the UK when virtually no-one can influence policies. It is also interesting to learn that democracy takes a back seat to conference profits. A party that has true OMOV might actually encourage those who want to get properly involved in politics to join up and boost funds that way. I can’t vote for a voting representative either – I live in an area of almost total Lib Dem wipeout. Invite me to pay a fiver if I can afford it to offset remote voting costs. I would probably pay it, but I can’t afford time off to go to a conference where I wouldn’t be able to vote anyway so why bother. When we vote for our next leader, possibly in about 9 months time, I’ll vote for the one that promises OMOV on policy.

  • >We haven’t even got on to conference expressing a view (Tuition fees, NHS etc) which is ignored by our Leader.

    Well given who is entitled to vote at conference, it could be argued that the Leader is right to ignore it, as in no way can a conference vote be described as representing the view of the membership…

  • “If the Nationwide Building Society can find a way of all its members having a vote using postal and online as well as personal votes,”

    When was the last time Nationwide had a substantive vote on an issue of policy where there was a debate of opposing sides and amendments being put to the motion (as opposed to adminisrative/procedural matters)?

  • Stevan Rose 4th Oct '14 - 4:38pm

    “When was the last time Nationwide had a substantive vote on an issue of policy where there was a debate of opposing sides and amendments being put to the motion (as opposed to adminisrative/procedural matters)?”

    Do we deny people a vote in elections because they can’t prove they have attended and listened to debates. MPs vote in the Commons without attending the debate beforehand. Because I can’t attend Conference that means I am not entitled to an opinion, not that I could vote even if I could attend? Sue Doughty mentioned the difficulty in administering online voting but it isn’t an issue, it’s an excuse.

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    I saw this on TV in the gym, and the PPB had subtitles - a lot of time was wasted with a lot of guff...
  • User AvatarWarren Clarke 22nd Feb - 7:01pm
    Considering the devastating effects of the floods around the country in recent weeks, I'd like to see our party take the lead in proposing a...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 22nd Feb - 6:57pm
    A younger member, commenting in an email to me on the Social Contract policy proposed on this site recently by myself and Michael BG, helpfully...