Report from the Federal Policy Committee meeting on 24th June

We met again on Wednesday 24th June, with a focus this time on motions we plan to submit for the virtual autumn conference. As previously reported, for a combination of reasons we don’t have any full policy papers this year, but are putting forward stand-alone motions in a few areas we’d like to raise.

It is of course up to the Federal Conference Committee which, if any, of these they select for debate, and if they do then of course they will be published in the normal way in due course, so I’m not going to lay out here their detailed content, but will give a general report.

First up was a motion written by our working group already looking at the “Nature of Public Debate” about information and how it has been used and misused during this crisis, and claims made by the government. We discussed the right way to get more accurate information, and also to hold the government to account. This also includes the role of the press, its regulation and how we can support good quality journalism.

Second was a motion that some Federal Policy Committee members have drafted in discussion with Liberal Democrat Campaign for Racial Equality and some other BAME representatives in the party, entitled ‘Racial Justice Cannot Wait’.  This makes a wide range of distinctively liberal and urgent proposals in response to the current debate, for ways in which Britain can really confront and make a difference on race equality.

Next was a motion on Federalism in the UK. This has been led by some members in the Scottish party together with members from Wales and England, with a particular eye to next year’s devolved elections. The Committee gave its view, that, of course, we were clearly supportive of the principle of a federal UK, which has been the party’s established view for many years. We were also keen to ensure that the debate on the structure of the UK did not get bogged down in some of the difficult and unresolved questions about how devolution in England should work, which are very legitimate questions but need not to eclipse the important questions about other UK nations. We agreed to go back to the motion’s drafters with some comments, and with a view to possibly supporting it.

On Covid we will plan to set out in one motion many of the points Ed, Munira, Layla and others have been making, into a foursquare criticism of the government’s many failings in its handling of the crisis, and what it reveals about their whole approach to government.

On Europe we will similarly point out some of the many mistakes in the way the government is handling the remaining Brexit process and negotiations for the future relationship, and how we see this should work. Clearly, it will also express our clear longstanding and unchanging commitment to Britain’s place in the EU.

Finally, away from conference motions, we had a further discussion about the “PolicyLab” online member policy discussion project which is happening as part of our World After Coronavirus programme. This is now starting to go live, with a test phase under way this week. We think this is an exciting new way of involving members, and we hope as many as possible will engage in this once it is formally launched.


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

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This entry was posted in Party policy and internal matters.


  • When is the party going to face the big questions and issues thrown up by the virus crisis?

    The huge challenge of recovering a sustainable economy. The crisis of intergenerational injustice that has been shown up in sharp relief. A deliverable solution to the critical state of social care in our country. The question of how on Earth our government can balance its books.

    We seem to be turning into a ‘tinkering around the edges’ party.

  • Thanks for this report.

    It must now be clear to all that the party needs to do some fundamental strategic thinking and, on the basis of that, restructure how it is organised and the way it works.

    It’s hard to see how it can survive otherwise.

    What role does the FPC see for itself in that?

  • richard underhill 27th Jun '20 - 10:27pm

    We should extend a friendly welcome to the new coalition in the Republic of Ireland, which is of historic importance in that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael emerged from different sides of the civil war in Ireland. Both parties have provided Prime Ministers at different times, although not previously together.
    In Ireland the Greens represent environmentalism which can benefit government policy without disturbing ancient memories of conflict.

  • I note none of the motions address the elephant in the room: meaningful structural reorganisation of the party and the adoption of policies that would facilitate this. I take it that the Federal Policy committee are happy with the ways things current (don’t) work…

  • FPC does not realise how critical updating our processes for governance in the uk is. Without it, we are going to find tackling the other issues mentioned more tricky. We should be talking about Citizens’ Assemblies, improving electoral registration rates and more devolution to the regions and cities of England.

  • Nigel Jones 28th Jun '20 - 7:05pm

    I am surprised the FPC have not tried to bring together recent policies on the economy, environment and inequality (including local public services and education). This is surely urgent and we need to bring about joined up thinking on these matters; we have too much individual policies with lots of detail that are of no interest to the general public and work to a coherent message about the way forward for the UK from now on.
    The matter of internal governance is very important, but that needs careful work as a result of the 2019 General Election Review report; I hope that work has started already by the Federal Board. It will need to be progressed rapidly when the leadership election is completed and hopefully has already stirred up readiness for radical change which vested interests of those on our existing committees are not allowed to stifle.
    I hope also that conference will allow speeches and questions about the big issues mentioned above, to help ordinary members make progress in their thinking and local activities. We need to listen to each other and listen to the general public.

  • Jeremy Hargreaves 29th Jun '20 - 11:47am

    Thanks all for comments so far.

    A number of them are asking what is happening about changing the party’s internal structures, presumably particularly in the wake of the General Election review report. The overall co-ordination of the party is the responsibility of the Federal Board, which is very much looking at this – it features in the report from the last meeting of the Board, and I’m sure will too in the next one. This is a major programme of work and is in no way at all being forgotten. The Board is also doing work developing the party’s strategy – in which the leadership election now under way also has a big part to play. FPC’s responsibility is for overseeing the development of the party’s policies we would like the see the government and others make, and this report and our meetings reflect that.

    There is a good question from Ian about what FPC is doing in developing our views on how the world needs to be very different in the post-coronavirus world. This is exactly the focus of the World After Coronavirus project – referred to in the last paragraph of this report, but it has been the main business reported from the last four (I think) FPC meetings. This is a project exactly intended to do this, with largescale input from party members – party members will be hearing more about this very shortly. This meeting was unusual for recent meetings in being about specific motions for conference – for which the deadline is imminent. Peter – one of those mentioned above is entirely about devolution, and another features citizens assemblies!

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