Scottish Conference Countdown: What’s on the agenda? And get writing your amendments today

Scottish Liberal Democrats gather for their Autumn Conference in Dunfermline on Saturday 24th October. The agenda contains no fewer than 8 policy debates – not bad for an event that lasts for just 7 hours. There are keynote speeches from Willie Rennie and Tim Farron and the day ends with a tribute to Charles Kennedy.

The policy motions to be discussed are:

A penny on tax for the NHS: This one will be controversial. The MSPs will be very scared of it passing because it’s way more radical than they can cope with. Perhaps Conference needs to give them the confidence to say something bold. One of the great tragedies of the current constitutional debate in Scotland is that nobody seems to have any great ideas for using the powers we already have, which are pretty significant. Paisley and Renfrewshire local party have put the cat among the pigeons with this motion. Will it pass? Expect to see an amendment from the Policy Committee.

Evidence based policy on genetically modified crops: The SNP wants a blanket ban on GM crops. Ross Stalker thinks this is wrong and flies in the face of scientific evidence. There was a deeply contested debate on this when we were in Government. Are feelings as strong today?

VAT on feminine hygiene products: As I am chairing this debate, I will leave it to others to comment.

Creating opportunities for the young homeless: It has a list of actions for both Scottish and UK Government. This should pass easily.

Towards a new Federal UK and a new Treaty of Union: A call for a constitutional convention to work towards a federal UK. There doesn’t seem much new about this. We’ve been calling for this since before I got involved in 1983. I anticipate a separate vote on Conference calls for 4, though, which sends a strong message of no more powers unless we get federalism. That’s probably counter-productive.

Putting democracy back into local policing: We said that the merger of the police forces was a very bad idea. It’s worked out even worse than even we thought. How do we sort it? I can’t comment on the motion because I am the aide in the debate.

Towards the manifesto: Discussion of the values document I told you about yesterday.

The final debate is an emergency motion. We won’t know the details until the day.

It’s a lot to cram into a  day. We also have a very busy fringe. We had thought that we wouldn’t do so well at this Conference after May but there are 4 lunchtime fringes and a substantial exhibition.

What’s particularly great is that there are lots of new members, making up around a quarter of the total, coming.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • “A penny on tax for the NHS:” and what would it be spent on? Would it be enough? could the money be found elsewhere?

    these penny on this and that ideas never work. Budgeting is about working out what is needed and then finding the amount of finance to cover it.

    In the polling booth the voter puts personal issues first and announcing higher tax is not popular. what needs to be illustrated is what spending is going on and how the money is going to be raised.

  • “Towards a new Federal UK and a new Treaty of Union” it would appear we have passed the point of federalism and the union. it is a matter of time before the independence vote is over 50%. what is needed is how the party is going to perform in an independent Scotland especially as it would be starting from a very low base.

  • Bruce I would strongly disagree regarding tax. Yes it will put off some on the right but Charles Kennedy returned the highest ever number of Lib Dem MPs ‘despite’ campaigning to raise taxes.

  • @ANMAW the 2005 result was probably more due to disaffected labour voters moving to lib dems, something that continued in 2010 with another 1% rise then. 2005 was when the shine came off the blair administration and the iraq invasion disaster was the main topic. Lib dems had been mentioning increasing tax at many general elections.

    The problem with “penny” tax increases is they don’t mean anything unless backed by spending plans. They are an asset to interviewers to ask hostile questions.

  • Richard Underhill 18th Oct '15 - 3:56pm

    ANMAW 18th Oct ’15 – 1:28pm Charles Kennedy campaigned against the war in Iraq.

  • Yes but from the start to finish of Charles Kennedy’s leadership he campaigned for moderate tax rises. Including 2001 when we also increase our vote share and MPs. This was well before 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq and the demise of Blairs popularity.

    When we are on 5% in Scotland, with both the SNP and Labour unwilling to use the tax system to protect services, there is nothing to be afraid of. The Scottish Tories will be campaigning for tax cuts in 2016. We really need to disguish ourselves from them after the coalition years and return to being a party of the radical centre.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 19th Oct '15 - 11:44am

    @David Wallace: You are standing as a candidate for another political party. People should be aware of that and take what you say accordingly.

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