Report from Federal Policy Committee, 14th July

We held the last of our summer meetings this week and now that the deadlines for motions for autumn conference have passed, we were able to focus squarely on thinking about our future plans. So there were fewer decisions, and mindful of FPC Meetings Reports Fatigue, I’ll try and be briefer than usual!

We’ve carried out Equalities Impact Assessments on all our recent policy papers. We now want to develop and strengthen this approach further and agreed a plan for doing this. Many thanks to Helen Cross, Lizzie Jewkes, Mohsin Khan and Tara Copeland for driving this forward.

We have started our programme of work developing policies on strengthening the UK’s relationship with the EU, with the long term goal of membership. Our first motion on this territory is coming to this conference and this week we discussed our longer term plans for this work. We plan to develop proposals on joining the EU’s free trade area, the Single Market, to bring to spring conference, with more to follow. Thanks to Duncan Brack who is working closely with staff in bringing this forward.

Finally we discussed our plans for future policy working groups. We kicked around various ideas on this, prior to taking some firm decisions in the autumn. Early priority areas here are likely to include prominently work on creating a fairer and more caring society (linking up to the party’s commitment to UBI, which we will be consulting party members about further at this autumn conference). This is likely to be a mixture of drawing together existing policy to present it in the right way, and developing new policy, with a firm focus on appealing to target voters. Supporting child development in the early years and housing and planning policy are also areas we are currently thinking a lot about. There will be further discussions on this, and work on others, in the autumn, which we’ll report about then.

And that, together with some housekeeping about planning to have some more of our meetings in the same room again, was us for the summer. We hope you like some of our motions for Conference when the agenda is published. We’ve had five meetings in the last five weeks, finalising more than five substantial policy projects, and we’re going to take a break now.

* Jeremy Hargreaves is a vice chair of Federal Policy Committee and the Federal Board.

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  • Brad Barrows 15th Jul '21 - 6:05pm

    I would be interested to read an Equalities Impact Assessment on rejoining the Single Market. One of the concerns used by Leavers to powerful effect was that free movement of Labour negatively impacted on low paid workers by competing wages lower than they would have been without the abundant supply of workers willing to move to the UK for those types of jobs.

  • Katharine Pindar 15th Jul '21 - 7:20pm

    The hard work of FCC members is appreciated, Jeremy, and I am glad you think there will be new working groups established which bring together existing policy and proposed policy developments. I remain in hope that one or more of these will concentrate on the integrated themes of the Beveridge-2 plan, ranging from health and social care, through poverty relief and prevention and education and training, to the needs for housing and jobs provision. (See my current thread “Invest in people and their communities”, and of course you retain the detailed submission requesting such a working group from Michael Berwick-Gooding and myself.)

    I am rather concerned however at your phrase, “with a firm focus on appealing to target voters”, in relation to policy presentation and development. Target seats I understand, but “target voters”, who are they? The publication by the Social Liberal Forum last autumn of a report called ‘Winning for Britain’ seemed to show rather conclusively, I thought, that while we can appeal to some degree to many groups of voters, we can depend on the firm allegiance of none. The more reason, I suggest, to take the overarching theme of the Beveridge-2 plan within a new social contract.

  • Amanda Holden 16th Jul '21 - 1:08am

    Regarding your comment about “Supporting child development in the early years”, I’m sure you are aware of the Duchess of Cambridge’s work on the early years of childhood – I don’t know much about her work on this, but I think that she has been speaking to experts, academics and parents about this and I believe that a lot of valuable work has been achieved by her foundation. It might be worth looking into her work, if you have not done so already, and perhaps even talking to her or the people associated with her work.

  • The party last debated defence and disarmament issues in 2017. The FCC has refused to allow debate on significant developments like the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on several occasions. It has also refused to allow debate on the increase in the number of Trident warheads. Other developments have also been ignored. If the FCC won’t allow members to debate such serious matters then I would suggest the FPC must step forward and appoint a working party with a view to updating and developing policy on defence and disarmament.

  • Jeremy Hargreaves 16th Jul '21 - 12:34pm

    Thanks all for comments.

    Brad – yes, I agree this will be very interesting, as that work moves forward.

    Katharine – as you know, we have been in touch and FPC is considering the ideas you and Michael have put forward. “Target voters” are voters we are particularly focussing on trying to persuade to vote for us.

    Amanda – thanks. Yes, the way such groups work always includes talking to a wide range of informed and expert perspectives, as they do their work.

    Kevin – I don’t think I was your main audience for making this point here. As you know we have been in touch and FPC is considering your petition about this.

  • Kevin White 16th Jul '21 - 3:10pm

    Jeremy, given the failure of the FCC, you and the FPC are certainly the main audience for my comment. I would hope that the FPC is cognisant of developments on the international stage in a way that the FCC clearly either aren’t or are unwilling to acknowledge.

  • Nigel Jones 16th Jul '21 - 4:20pm

    “drawing together existing policy to present it in the right way” is an excellent approach. Many of us have long been concerned at too much new detailed policy on ‘expert’ but narrow issues. Joined up thinking is absolutely essential to get the simple but vitally important messages across to the public who are not interested in policy details but in the enhancing of people’s quality of life in broad terms.
    I would add to this the important message that Lib-Dems want localism as well as internationalism; our broad policies therefore need to emphasise both the role of local democracy (for community and cultural activities as well as planning and housing) and global issues (peace and health as well as climate change) that in the long term affect all of our lives.

  • @ Brad Barrows – the EU made it illegal to hire people from or advertise in other countries paying a lower rate for the job in another country

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