Opinion: Time to face reality on conference security

Lib Dem Voice has carried a number of articles in recent weeks, reflecting wider discussions among Lib Dems, about the security arrangement for the Birmingham Conference. The tone of many of these discussions has reached a quite extraordinary pitch of self-righteousness and vituperation, in many cases based on hearsay and rumour.

Perhaps it would be worth looking at some of the facts about the security arrangements.

Firstly the idea that this is a decision which Lib Dems can take on our own is simply wrong. Many others attend our conference, the media, exhibitors and the workers in the venue, who in most cases have no choice but to attend. That is one of the reasons why the discussions about security arrangements involve not only the police, security services and Party but representatives of the venue. We may be willing to take a risk with our own safety: we cannot expect others to do the same.

Secondly there is an assumption that the Federal Conference Committee (FCC) has simply rolled over and agreed to the police demands. In fact there were many hours of detailed discussions to pare back the recommendations of the police to be as limited as possible. It is also worth noting that the initial recommendations are then reviewed by another, more senior committee which tests whether they are really necessary and which Party representatives attend .

Once a Security Plan for the Conference had been developed the Federal Conference Committee was faced with a simple choice – whether or not it was willing to run a Conference on that basis. If the Party had tried to go ahead after ignoring the police advice then it would have run into two problems. Firstly our insurance cover would have been invalidated without which the Birmingham venue (and almost certainly any other venue) would have refused to take us. This was not just an issue with one insurer; the advice of the Party’s insurance broker was that we would not be able to obtain insurance at all on this basis. The other problem is that even ignoring the insurance issue it is very unlikely that a venue would take us if we ignored police advice. They owe a duty of care to their employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act which ignoring police advice would almost certainly breach.

So to be clear FCC was not faced with a decision as to whether to accept police advice. They were faced with a decision on whether or not to have a Conference. As we know they decided (with only one person voting against) to go ahead with the accreditation process recommend by the Security Review. That does not mean that this will be the same for each Conference – different venues may have different risks as may the Spring and Autumn Conferences – and no recommendation has yet been made about the Spring 2012 Gateshead Conference.

I think everyone would agree that all of this could have been far better managed and communicated. One of the reasons more attention was not given to this was because an accreditation process had been in place for the Liverpool Conference for a small group of people and had gone off without any concerns or problems being raised. There is certainly more that could have been done to communicate the safeguards that have been granted – such as that delegates can instruct the police to delete their accreditation information after the Conference.

One of the biggest myths which has sprung up is that the police are deciding who can go to our Conference. This is absolutely not the case: the Conference Committee have achieved a crucial concession that it is the Party NOT the police who decide. A group of three, Andrew Wiseman (FCC Chair), Chris Fox (Party Chief Executive) and Tim Farron have the final say. So far (as of Thursday 8 September) there has only been one person flagged up by the police and the group of three has decided that he should not be admitted. This is someone who joined the Party in July 2011 and about whom the police have raised ‘serious concerns’ – very specific details of which were given to Wiseman etc.

That is not to say that the police have not asked some people for more information or for different photos. It does seem extraordinary that so many otherwise competent Lib Dems claim to be incapable of following the straightforward instructions about the photo. Was the person who submitted a photo of themselves and someone else holding a banner really serious?

There have been many other complaints raised about the process, perhaps the most serious of which has been about transsexuals. It is certainly true that FCC did not consider the particular problems this process might cause for transsexuals (partly because a transsexual had been through the process and not raised any issues). Once they were aware of the problem they took advice from DELGA and put in place into further measures to protect their privacy. The criticism from some transsexuals now seems to be that they will not trust the police under any circumstances with personal data, which is sad and concerning but not really something the Conference Committee can do anything about short of cancelling the whole Conference.

One of the complaints which I find difficult to take seriously is that where someone is a well known Lib Dem like they should be excused vetting. The idea that some groups of Lib Dems should be treated differently to others is one that would (rightly) have members up in arms.

I could go through the long list of concerns which people have come up with ranging from the possibility that a future authoritarian state could misuse the information to round up Lib Dems (presumably they would not think of getting the list from the Party computer) to the view that you can’t book early cheap accommodation and train tickets (why not, you are far more likely to have to cancel through illness than to be barred from Conference?).

There is to be a motion in Birmingham on this topic. Much of it is sensible and everyone will agree with it. I think though that there are two problems. The first is the idea that the police should be pressured to change their advice on security on political grounds. We should of course question what the police are saying but advice on security is not something which politicians should decide any more than they should interfere in any other operational police decision. Secondly the motion needs to make clear what Conference expects our Committee to do if, despite their best efforts they cannot persuade the police not to recommend a similar accreditation process. If we decide that we would rather not have a Conference than go through this process again then that should be specifically discussed and agreed by Conference.

Perhaps the most depressing thing about this whole saga has been the abuse heaped on Federal Conference Committee and particularly its Chair, accusing them of abandoning our Liberal principles. It would help if some members of FCC who are normally very voluble in parading their Liberal consciences would explain why they voted to support the new process. It would also help if Tim Farron were to publicly support the arrangements as that would doubtless assuage the fears of many members.

I hope the debate in Birmingham is conducted with good manners and on the basis that everyone has tried to stick to Liberal Democrat principles. If we are to decide we would rather have no Conference than one which breaches those principles then we should make that decision, not leave it to our Committee.

Simon McGrath was a member of the Liberal party Assembly Committee in the 1980s.

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51 Comments

  • A very well written and thought out piece

  • For once, some well-argued common sense. A fantastic post.

    For those who say they haven’t been willing to book accommodation until they have received accreditation there seems to be a simple question: why do you think you won’t be accredited in the first place?

  • On incompetence, I registered last Sunday, got my confirmation email on Weds and the actual pass today. I call that pretty competent.

  • “why do you think you won’t be accredited in the first place?”

    Very true. And in fact, if you haven’t done anything wrong, what are you trying to hide?

  • I’d suggest removing the paragraph on trans concerns, because it’s just plain wrong – not least because those “some transsexuals” you cite are predominantly members of the LGBT LD (née Delga) executive.

    The Federal Conference Committee have at no time offered the LGBT LD trans working group any improvement on the accreditation process which avoids a deal-breaking high likelihood of individuals’ identity and personal safety being compromised, nor have we accepted such an offer.

    Our concerns have been made explicit – the use of anything akin to a CRB check has shown to be broken, and the legislation supposed to provide accountability for such gross failings as our members have been subject to in the past has never been enforced. The manner in which these concerns have been brushed aside by some in the party has made any further challenge untenable, as the emotional toll on our activists has already gone far beyond what we should expect of anyone.

    In failing to carry out the required Equality Impact Assessment *prior* to the instatement of the accreditation procedure, both Federal Conference Committee and West Midlands Police have been woefully negligent in their obligation to make Conference safe and accessible.

    The process of accreditation has no endorsement from LGBT LD, even less so from the members of our executive who are not safe to attend conference. It is a sad reality that the party must face, that it has well and truly dropped the ball on this one.

    – Emma Brownbill
    LGBT LD Trans Working Group

  • Tony Dawson 10th Sep '11 - 4:06pm

    This posting seemed remarkably sane and balanced until I got to the sentence:

    “We should of course question what the police are saying but advice on security is not something which politicians should decide any more than they should interfere in any other operational police decision. ”

    In any part of a democracy, the job of experts is to be able to convince intelligent laypersons. That is NOT an operational issue (operations is doing it). WHAT you do is a policy issue. I am sure that the Gtr Manchester Police are not going to advise us to improve our security by having mounted police murder schoolteachers or suggest that it would be useful for their operatives to periodically rush through the stalls area to enter the conference bars and machine-gun the odd Brazilian delegate at close range. But we (our representatives) should be happy that their proposed security measures are for security and not just for show.

    As for the issue of ‘different checks for different people’, it is NOT discriminatory for a sensible flow-chart to be used in the process to reduce costly and unnecessary work. No I do NOT want the police, or anyone else, assessing Shirley Williams’ potential for being a suicide bomber, and nor should the police, or anyone else, want to do this. We have just learned how the DWP has adopted this ‘graded’ approach to how they intervene with respect to people with different employment prospects and I have just heard some most interesting ideas from local JobCentre representatives as to how they might provide a much better yet cheaper service for people who receive ESA by adopting a similar ‘layered’ approach.

    Any expert who is not prepared to explain his/her proposed plans and accept their potential modification has an ego bigger then their expertise.

  • David Grace

    You needn’t think you’re going to be allowed in next year!

  • Sarah Brown 10th Sep '11 - 4:21pm

    Once they were aware of the problem they took advice from DELGA and put in place into further measures to protect their privacy.

    This is simply untrue. My discussions with Andrew Wiseman reached an impasse. The DELGA executive continues to have serious concerns over the ability of the accreditation process to out trans people and place us in a position where our safety is at risk, and we passed a motion at our summer strategy conference to this affect.

    Sarah Brown – Chair of the DELGA Transgender Working Group.

  • Andrew Suffield 10th Sep '11 - 4:32pm

    So to be clear FCC was not faced with a decision as to whether to accept police advice. They were faced with a decision on whether or not to have a Conference.

    To be fair, there is one other alternative, which is to have it in a field in the middle of nowhere, only admit party members, and run the whole thing ourselves. But that’s a fairly extreme option.

    the message to not just Trans folk but any minority group is that the Liberal Democrats are not for us, because the party will drop you the moment it becomes convenient to do so

    Pfft, no, and you know that. The fact that no acceptable solution has been found is profoundly annoying and unacceptable, but it’s a cock-up and not any attempt to drop people. This is a problem that must be solved.

  • Simon McGrath 10th Sep '11 - 5:48pm

    @Nick I agree it could have been much better dealt with. I don’t agree though that you would have had to wait to book accommodation at there is no reason why you would have been turned down.
    @Paul and Tom , thanks
    @emma, Zoe and Sarah. I think I addressed your main point. You think ( forgive me if I have misunderstood you) that any process which involves CRB type checks is fundamentally wrong because you do not trust the information will be secure. There doesn’t seem anything that the FCC can do anything about that short of rejecting the whole process which would mean no conference. You havent offered any evidence that the CRB process is insecure for transexuals and for Emma to say here is a ‘high likelihood of individuals identity and personal safety being compromised’ is surely a statement that needs some supporting evidence.
    Zoe can I suggest you update your blog where you say that Gareth and 3 other people have been refused accredit ion since this is not correct.

  • I see that Gerry Adams is speaking at the Sinn Fein party conference in Belfast tonight, and it made me wonder – there must be at least some members of that party who wouldn’t do well out of a background check. Does SF even do them? If not, they seem able to manage their venue/insurance in some other way. Maybe the rules are more lenient, here? Perhaps you should have the LD conference in Belfast next time and avoid the whole controversy.

  • Simon McGrath 10th Sep '11 - 6:56pm

    David.
    1. I should have been clearer.the original group of police, home office, party etc has it’s Security plan reviewed by another body Chaired I believe by a senior member of ACPO. The party are represented on that body.
    2. This is not contradicory it is factual. The advice may change depending on the conf and venue. So it is entirely possible we won’t need police checks in Gateshead. This seems odd to me, but it is a fact.
    3. What we can’t ignore is the process the police have recommended. That process includes the party making the final decision so what I have said is consistent.
    4. I am not sure how you can describe Farron and wiseman as unelected. I agree that the person should be able to makes represents ions and ideally have a further right of appeal.
    5 The point here is that all members should have to go through the same process and someone should not be excused from supply the right documents etc just because they are well known.
    6.But you are exactly suggesting that the police should bow to political pressure. You dont think they should ask for checks. They do. By asking them to change their view you are saying that your political views should trump their opinion based on their experience. You could apply exactly the same logic to object to security checks.
    7. I have no doubt you will summers the motion with your usual good manners. From wht I have seen some other speakers may have a different approach
    8. Nowhere you addressed my fundamental point. If Conf Ctte cannot get the police to change their advice for a future conf what do you they should do? Either go ahead with the Conf or not? You need to answer that question.

  • Simon McGrath 10th Sep '11 - 7:01pm

    Zoe your argument is a circular one:
    some trans people don’t trust the CRB
    Therefore they don’t go
    Therefore it is discriminatory

    Do you think that we should have no conference because some transpeople don’t like the CRB checks? Check s where you have offered no evidence that they put information at risk?

  • Simon McGrath 10th Sep '11 - 9:12pm

    Zoe, I did read the pieces you linked to. Two of them are descriptions of the special arrangements in place to protect transexuals – surely a good thing? In Sarah’s blog she refers to one incident a few years ago where information from a CRB check was revealed. That is shocking. What did the investigation following her complaint reveal?Was there a prosecution?
    In any event I don’t think that a single incident some years ago should be taken to damn the whole process particularly when there is no evidence that it is systemically flawed.
    David most of your points could equally well apply to any security measures. You have accepted that some security is necessary on police advice, your position is that if we disagree with it we can ignore it. But you don’t go on to the next logical step which is that it is better to stick to our principles and have no conference.

  • simon, just an observation but your tone comes across as almost aggressively defensive, especially when others present facts that do not fit the description that you are trying to promote. what i don’t understand is why you feel the need to defend rather than explore the issues that are raised and allow people to explore the issues and then make up their own mind? the key thing for me is that many other, higher risk events go ahead, in major venues, in major cities without all this hoohah and as commercial enterprises require these are insured… what i don’t understand is why, if the particular event at this particular venue is what kicked all of this off in the first place then were all other options explored before this one was chosen? lib dem conference is inherently different from other party conferences and the lib dem party is inherently different from other parties – i wish someone took the time to properly understand the demographic personas of the membership and their inherent desire for openess, transparency and access to factual information to inform a debate… maybe the decision taken was the right one – the point is based on the facts available it seems to me it is impossible to tell…

  • Andrew Suffield 11th Sep '11 - 2:52am

    Just because it is caused by inaction rather than action does not change the fact that it is discrimination.

    Certainly. The only statement I am disputing is the one I quoted – that this has got anything to do with dropping minority groups.

    Does SF even do them? If not, they seem able to manage their venue/insurance in some other way. Maybe the rules are more lenient, here?

    My understanding is that the two factors responsible for this becoming an issue are the (growing) size of LD conferences and the presence of members of the government. Sinn Fein has neither so they can still get away with what LD conferences did until recently.

    It’s mostly the size. Police get twitchy as more people are crowded into one place.

  • Simon McGrath 11th Sep '11 - 6:49am

    @Zoe, you have still not presented any evidence that there is any risk to trans persons from CRB checks apart from one incident some years ago. You say “Privilege check” but your comments really amount to the fact that the party should not subject your views to the same level of scrutiny as anyone else.

    Your position is in fact as I describe it in the article, that CRB checks are intrinsically unacceptable to some trans people, which is not something we as a Party can do anything about . (although I imagine you have lobbied Lynne Featherstone about it).

    So the Party is in the same position – do we decide not to have a conference or not. I think there is a perfectly sound liberal argument that we should cancel the conference if the police recommend these checks (though I would not agree with it). Is that what you want?

  • Well written article Simon! A lot more balanced, as I hope the debate will be this time next week.

    @Emma, Zoe and Sarah – I believe that if you contact the Chair of DELGA and/or the Chair of FCC there have been arrangements put in place to get you through the system. This has been in place for some time. I am not sure of the specifics but I know Andrew met with representative/s from DELGA and found what they thought was a suitable compromise.

    Just some facts I have pinched from someone else’s notes of yesterday’s FCC ‘Lib Dem conference accreditation update from FCC. 5,617 people have been approved. 138 applications are in progress. There are issues with 150 applications in various categories including photos missing or unsuitable and some people (almost all non-members) being asked to provide passports at conference. These are technical issues that are very unlikely to lead to refusal. However, one person has been refused accreditation by the Chair of FCC, the President and the Chief Exec.

    ‘150 includes 32 who did not provide a photo, 33 with problems with photos that are being worked on and 11 people who submitted unsuitable photos. It also includes 31 newly received applications. 71 have been asked to produce their passports on site – only two of them are party members and that should have resolved itself and the need to provide passports this weekend (for those two members) – the other 69 are not known to the party.’

  • Liz, Zoe – drop me a line susan.c.gaszczak AT googlemail.com – I am a member of FCC and would like to hear your views!

  • Simon McGrath 11th Sep '11 - 10:11am

    @Liz, just to be clear nothing I said is meant to imply that the FCC think all trans people are alike. I don’t think they considered trans people at all initially. My point was that had the trans person who went through the process raised any issue itbwould have been flagged earlier.

    The responsibility is with the FCC though.

  • Interesting to see the privilege denial going on here.
    1) The use of “transsexuals” to mean transsexual people is offensive to many, possibly most trans people.
    2) Zoe has quite correctly called out privilege and that privilege has been denied by privileged people. How surprising.
    3) there seems to be a complete lack of understanding of the risks that trans people face. Up to and including murder, from something as simple as being accidentally outed.
    4) Trans people may not be terrorists, but if we choose, for good reason, not to share our gender histories with all and sundry – yes, we do have something to fear and something to hide.
    5) It’s clear from what the DELGA reps above are saying that you did know there was a problem, you just chose to ignore it.

  • Please correct me if I am wrong –

    If such an accreditation process is to be used for any or all future Conferences, does this not necessitate a change in our Constitution? If so, then this has to be brought before Members and the Federal Conference for approval.

    This is particularly important if we are all expected to provide personal details which are to be held on a database. Even assurances given (supposedly) that these data will be deleted after Conference, we have absolutely no guarantee that they will, nor have we any guarantee that they will not be misused in the intervening period. We have all heard reports of databases going “missing” or being stolen/left in trains on computers etc. – I don’t think I would feel at all comfortable with this.

    Perhaps someone would be kind enough to clarify the matter of Constitutional change being required on this issue.

    Thanks.

  • As a member of FCC (I’m one of the two reps from FE) I have been reading and noting the concerns about the accreditation process and the problems some people have faced in being accredited. I was one of them, albeit in a small way, when a nice woman from GMP called me to say my passport number was wrong. I sorted it out last week (I’m not sure if it was my fault or theirs) and received my pass on Friday. I was much relieved.
    The issue on trans people feeling able to attend conference is clearly very important so I hope anyone with concerns regarding this will raise them with a member of FCC. Clearly communication could have been vastly better than it was, and whatever happens for future years I know that the anger many members have felt about the process has been heard loud and clear.
    If anyone wants to email me with their concerns or comments I’m happy to pass them on. My email is [email protected]
    By the way and probably unsurprisingly I don’t agree that an accreditation process is fascistic.

  • It seems that the issues raised here of particular concern to trans persons would cut across party boundaries, and given that the new arrangements for our party are longstanding at the other two (I know because I go to them for work), what steps do the other two parties take concerning this? Does anyone know? This is a genuine question.

  • I’m rather confused as to what extra security this process is actually giving.
    Presumably, we’ll still have the metal detectors and like security at the venue.. so why an accreditation as well since any physical threat would be picked up anyway.
    Also, there’s no need for a pass to attend fringe events at the other venues, and those events have ministers, including Clegg, in attendance so clearly that’s pretty unnecessary.

  • If the Police think it is too dangerous for Nick Clegg to attend Lib Dem conference perhaps he should either stay at home or go to a different one!

  • Richard Gadsden 12th Sep '11 - 12:18am

    If the problem is that too many people attend conference, then we could reduce the numbers. Ask the police how many we’d need to get it down to to remove the requirement and then create a first-come-first-served system for anyone who isn’t an elected voting representative. If that meant that late applications from the media were rejected, then just tell them it’s on police advice. I’m sure they’d make sure they got their paperwork in early for the important people.

    If the problem is that members of the government are attending then the question is whether excluding 20-odd voting reps is more or less than those excluded by the insecurity process. After all, at conference, all members are equal, so perhaps just keeping the five cabinet ministers away would be sufficient. There are a lot more than five voting reps who have been excluded (when you include those that have declined to apply in order to protect their own personal safety).

    As for trans people. Let’s be clear on this: revealing their previous name, or their trans status endangers them. Transphobic beatings are still very common, and the more people who find out that you’re trans, the greater the physical danger you’re in.

    The CRB process will reveal both trans status and a previous name for anyone with a criminal record under their previous name. In addition, the databases it uses contain name-change and trans-status information for all trans people (well, they should; obviously there may be errors in the databases). While they are not supposed to reveal this for trans people who have not got a criminal record under their previous name, doing so is regarded as an administrative error, not as a catastrophic systems failure that endangers the trans person concerned. Other people with former identities that must not be disclosed to prevent their being placed in physical danger – people protected by court orders, people in witness protection programmes, former members of certain military and intelligence organisations – are taken much more seriously by the CRB than trans people.

    Until the police and the CRB demonstrate by changes in their procedures that they are going to take trans people’s safety seriously, or until transphobia drops to a level where trans people can feel safe in being out to all and sundry, then trans people have to make their own assessments of their personal safety and their acceptance of risk – a risk that no-one else has to deal with.

    Now, if the police advice is such that there is no reasonable prospect of having a conference without CRB checks, then we can say that we are forced by the police to adopt a discriminatory process, that we would prefer not to do so, and that we would like them to either fix the CRB process so it isn’t discriminatory (ie so all or virtually all trans people regard it as acceptable) or do without it for our conference. But we can’t pretend that the process isn’t discriminatory because we’d like not to discriminate.

    Turning to your point about the risk assessment – a risk assessment is run for each conference. If it’s true that some venues require higher levels of security than others, either because the local police force is more paranoid, because there are more “persons of interest” in one part of the country than another, or because the physical characteristics of the venue make it harder to secure, then we should clearly say that we’ll only hold the conferences in places where we don’t need to apply discriminatory checks on our members – and then see if the venues that lose out can apply pressure to the police to change their minds.

    If there aren’t any venues where we can go without discriminatory checks on our members, then we can say so. FCC can say “these checks are discriminatory; the alternative is not to have a conference at all; we’re obliged by the Federal Constitution to hold a conference. We’ve accepted the police advice under protest.”

    As for excluding people, the only person that might have the power to do so is the Chief Steward, not the chair of FCC, the President, or any other such person. It’s a bit debatable – there’s an explicit power of appeal, but not an explicit power to exclude.

    Finally, might I recommend that there should be a set of amendments to Conference Standing Orders brought to Spring Conference to ensure that the people exercising powers are exercising ones they actually have.

  • Simon McGrath Caron Lindsay 12th Sep '11 - 7:56am

    They owe a duty of care to their employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act which ignoring police advice would almost certainly breach.

    It has been my good fortune to live with a health and safety professional this last almost quarter of a century. It’s a special privilege, believe me. Last week he went to our daughter’s school open night and took photographs, not of her learning environment, but of fire exit signs. You get my drift. I showed him what you’d said about health and safety and his reply was “b*****ks.” He said that all employees would have to undergo accreditation if that were the case, and all employees of suppliers, too. In fact anyone who ever went into the place. That argument does not hold water.

    I have argued long and hard for months that these changes, as well as being fundamentally illiberal and probably unconstitutional, overly expensive, a waste of time and will not make one person safer. Every single major terrorist incident of the past few years has been carried out by people with the correct paperwork.

    I think we should have suggested to our party’s insurance broker that they should look harder or lose our business. Festivals get public liability insurance with much greater risk of criminality and greater presence of A Listers than our Conference. I am sure it will be available somehow, somewhere.

    It really sticks in my throat that the reason I’ll be at Conference is because the Police have said I can go. Federal Conference Committee have had nothing to do with it and on the face of evidence are unlikely to back me up in the event that I am turned down.

    So far (as of Thursday 8 September) there has only been one person flagged up by the police and the group of three has decided that he should not be admitted. This is someone who joined the Party in July 2011 and about whom the police have raised ‘serious concerns’ – very specific details of which were given to Wiseman etc.

    I think it’s important to note that this person may well be completely and utterly innocent of anything. I obviously can’t comment as I obviously don’t know what the situation is, but it worries me that someone has been excluded. If the Police are worried about that person they should arrest them and have their suspicions tested in the judicial system. What’s happened is that that group of 3 people have gone along with the Police advice. What if they had chosen not to? What would be the situation with our insurance then? Our FCC chair may well be party to a real injustice as regards the excluded person.

    The physical security is enough to prevent anybody doing anyone dangerous.

    What happens, though, if FCC are told biometric information is required for accreditation? What do they do then? All the arguments you made about insurance would apply.

    I hope that the motion passes on Sunday. If FCC won’t take a stand, then the Conference should compel them to. I am certain that fresh thinking would find a way for Conference to continue.

  • Would someone who knows what they are talking about regarding Constitutional changes being required please answer my previous question?

    >ii<

  • Viz.
    If such an accreditation process is to be used for any or all future Conferences, does this not necessitate a change in our Constitution? If so, then this has to be brought before Members and the Federal Conference for approval.

    Perhaps someone would be kind enough to clarify the matter of Constitutional change being required on this issue.

  • ‘So far (as of Thursday 8 September) there has only been one person flagged up by the police and the group of three has decided that he should not be admitted. This is someone who joined the Party in July 2011 and about whom the police have raised ‘serious concerns’ – very specific details of which were given to Wiseman etc……. but it worries me that someone has been excluded. If the Police are worried about that person they should arrest them and have their suspicions tested in the judicial system. What’s happened is that that group of 3 people have gone along with the Police advice. What if they had chosen not to? What would be the situation with our insurance then? Our FCC chair may well be party to a real injustice as regards the excluded person.’

    All very worrying in a Party that has been the only one to uphold and fight for civil liberties when threatened and/or eroded by (particularly but not exclusively ) the previous government. It is not up to the police to say who attends Conference – we are not (yet) a police state!

  • Mick Taylor 12th Sep '11 - 3:02pm

    I know that one of our regular stewards is a trans person (I have know the person in both genders) and I am most concerned about the apparent ostrich tendancy on this issue.

    I have emailed Lynne Feathertsone and asked her to take up the issue of CRB leakiness. Suggest many more do too. [email protected] .uk

  • Andrew Suffield 12th Sep '11 - 11:44pm

    I know that one of our regular stewards is a trans person

    Also worth noting that the stewards were one of the groups that had to go through accreditation at past conferences.

    Draw your own conclusions. I just think that these two facts are interesting when placed in proximity.

  • Simon McGrath Caron Lindsay 13th Sep '11 - 2:16pm

    Simon, it would have been a lot easier to bear if the FCC had been a bit less compliant, a bit more angry about doing this.

    I actually believe that it would be perfectly possible to still have a conference and not submit to these intrusive and unnecessary checks – by choosing our venues more carefully.

    Maybe Federal Conference should just come to Scotland for the forseeable. I suspect it might be different up here.

  • simon> The issue is not whether we argree with the police advice, it is whether we disagree so strongly we would rather have no conference.

    Well, that’s the situation for many trans people. However, it would have been nice for a party that believes in civil liberties, equal opportunity for minority groups, “no2id” etc. to stand in solidarity for once, and say “We can’t hold our conference because the police advice is unacceptably discriminatory”. Do you think that the advice might have changed, then? It certainly makes a strong statement about what LDs stand for. I’ll be there, as it turns out, and I hope I’ll have an opportunity to speak on the topic.

  • Simon McGrath 13th Sep '11 - 8:57pm

    Jsue7 I look forward to meeting you. would be interesting to hear any evidence that the accreditation process is discriminatory. None of the references anyone has given so far have shown that it is,

  • Simon – I suggest you reread paras 3 to 5 of Richard Gadsden’s comment in the thread.

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