So how was Virtual Conference for you?

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On the official party website: Conference home

I am feeling a little delicate this morning. The Conference may have been virtual, but the hangover certainly isn’t. At my age, you would think I would know better than to sit up drinking with my friends in a virtual pub until 4am, but it certainly gave an authentic feel to the last night of our virtual Conference.

A week ago, I felt really gloomy as Facebook reminded me of Conferences past. I was really sad that I wasn’t packing up and heading to Brighton to see my friends. I thought that the virtual event would be a bit artificial. While it would get the job done, it wouldn’t be the same.

Well of course it wasn’t the same. It does hurt not to be with my Lib Dem family, but at least we could catch up in the chat or in the plethora of virtual pubs that sprung up.

It was brilliant though. There was something very comforting about Federal Conference Committee Chair Geoff Payne chairing the first debate. Those familiar “Will x please stand by and I now call…..” and procedural rituals of a Conference debate always get the endorphins going in a committed Conference-goer. And we had some really challlenging and thoughtful debates. The discussions on Universal Basic Income, Federalism, including how to manage the trickier issue of how England wants to manage itself, mental health support for care workers, the future of the BBC, a green recovery, Hong Kong and, of course, Europe.

It is weird to be addressing Conference from your living room and not to be able to gauge the room. When you are on the pool of potential speakers for a debate, you get taken into a Zoom-based holding pen. You can’t then see the chat to gauge how the debate is going. Certainly you have Twitter and WhatsApp so your friends can tell you but it isn’t the same as the sometimes highly charged atmosphere in an actual conference hall.

I also co-trained one session for ALDC. It was very strange not to be able to see the people you are training and, although people could put questions in the chat, it wasn’t quite the same. However, the tech worked very well.

There was a lot of variety in the fringe. From the traditional cocktails with Lib Dem Women to discussing Wellbeing with the Green Liberal Democrats and the plight of LGBT+ asylum seekers with Liberal Democrat Seekers of Sanctuary, the programme was rich and interesting. If you held or attended a session that you found interesting, please write it up for us in 500 words or less.

You can relive some of the best moments in the auditorium here on the party’s You Tube channel.

There were inevitable technical hitches, but they were quickly resolved.

This event took a whole load of hard work from staff and volunteers alike. Thank you so much to Geoff Payne and everyone on Federal Conference Committee for their hard work and to all the staff in the various departments at LDHQ for managing the digital side, doing all the administration, training, and organising. Let’s not forget ALDC who provided over 30 courses over the 4 days and the Campaign for Gender Balance and Racial Diversity Campaign. They all deserve praise for putting this together in just a few months.

My favourite moment was seeing my friend Gregan Crawford get the Harriet Smith Award at the close of Conference last night. Gregan is a data dynamo who produces the best maps I have ever seen. One friend who has Dyspraxia says that their clarity takes away the stress out of delivery. His blue letter lists are an absolute joy. Oh, and one thing that you don’t know. He makes the most fabulous Cosmopolitan cocktails which are by far my favourite drink.

What did you think of Conference and what were your highlights?

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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Thanks for those kind words, Caron. It was sad that we could not all meet up as we usually do in person but I am really pleased that we managed to all meet virtually. It was a massive team effort involving staff and volunteers alike. We would love to hear feedback from everyone who attended. What went well? What could we do better next time?

  • Sue Sutherland 29th Sep '20 - 3:52pm

    For me Virtual Conference meant I could join in our party’s democracy for the first time in 20 years. Last year I wrote some lyrics for the Glee Club but didn’t know if the song was taken up until local friends asked if it was written by me.
    How different it was this year. It was brilliant to be a part of it all, seeing many members making their first speech at conference and putting faces and personalities to some well known names. I realised that the party and I still belong together and that people in it still want to fight injustice, even though Coalition had stretched that belief to tenuous levels.
    Thank you so much to everyone who played a part in creating and delivering this Conference. I thought it went extremely smoothly and the voting system was very easy which gave me a great buzz. My vote wasn’t necessary to carry the motions I wanted to support but it certainly made a big difference to me to be part of the process.
    I can see now that my party is reforming itself and girding its loins for the fight against the Tories next year and at the next General Election. May the force be with us!

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