Spring Conference – Get your awkward questions in….

One of the important bits of our internal party democracy is that each of the Federal Committees needs to submit a report to Conference, which is subject to a vote. The chair of the Committee also takes questions at Conference.

These accountability sessions are often boring, but can, occasionally, make important changes.

Back in 2021, a member used the report session on the Federal Board to submit a request for a separate vote which ended the Steering Group project. This had been introduced as a way of streamlining the decision-making process which many people, myself included, saw as reducing accountability. I was very annoyed that my mandate as a directly elected Board member had been interfered with in this way.

The irony of this is that that vote would have passed if the “payroll” vote had been around. Although the Conference was online, our MPs and senior office bearers were actually in Canary Wharf, where Ed Davey was going to give his leader’s speech to an audience for the first time since the pandemic.

The opportunities for decent scrutiny in the party are diminishing rapidly, so the Conference session is an important opportunity for members to have their say.

The committee reports have now been published and there’s a lot to chew over.  New appointments to the Federal Appeals Panel, changes to the disciplinary process, new affiliated organisations to approve and work plans for all the committees are in there. I was drawn to something a bit spicy that departing Federal People Development Committee Chair Mary Regnier Wilson said in her report as it chimed with the article I wrote on Saturday about the need for us to develop a compelling pitch for people’s votes.

We have a new Membership Development Officer at HQ, who has been
working hard to make membership reporting more useful in our mission to
recruit and retain members. This is still challenging – partly due to the tension between creating a powerful liberal narrative that will motivate our members and the need to portray Ed as “Centrist Dad” to appeal to the voters we need to switch to us. The necessary focus on the Blue Wall also makes recruitment and retention difficult in Labour facing areas.

It’s certainly time to explore ways of resolving the tension Mary describes. There is no reason why we shouldn’t, like in the run-up to 1997, be very relevant in Labour facing areas too.

Other reports cover the work of our Parliamentary Parties, the Campaign for Gender Balance and the Racial Diversity Campaign.

The Conference agenda and directory tells you that you can submit questions here. However, at the time of writing, this link does not work. You would think that The Powers that Be didn’t want you to ask them. I have flagged this up with Federal Conference Committee members and I’m sure it’ll be fixed soon. If you want your question published you need to get it in by 1pm on 6th March. However, you can still submit them after that time and they may or may not be answered on the floor of Conference. The advantage of submitting them in advance is that you get a supplementary question in the report session. So, take some time this weekend to read up on the reports and think up your questions.

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

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One Comment

  • Suzanne Fletcher 24th Feb '23 - 4:12pm

    thanks for the reminder, true it is important, although I sometimes think it is a plot to make the nuisances get up very early to be there in time!
    I only had to ask 20 times (ok that is a bit of an exaggeration, maybe 19) before the website got sorted out better.
    I hope something is sorted to make sure that q AND a are published not long after conference too.

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