Tag Archives: 2021 spring conference

Lib Dems back carers with £2.6 billion support package in emotional debate

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if the person you had spent your life from childhood caring for died, you would get some help with funeral expenses?

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if the person you had spent your life from childhood for died, you wouldn’t be made homeless?

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if you were willing to take on the responsibility of caring for someone you love, you would automatically get at least some training in how to lift them in a way that didn’t ruin your own health? Or some information regarding your rights as a carer.

Nope.

In an incredibly powerful and emotional debate at Conference, carers described how hard their lives can be. The main motion, proposing a £2.6 billion boost for support for carers, was proposed by Ed Davey, who, of course, has had caring responsibilities throughout his life. As a teenager he cared for his terminally ill mother. As an adult, he cared for his grandparents and, now, his severely disabled son.

Charley Hasted proposed an amendment which added in to the main motion, better provision for respite care, better training and support for carers, removal of the cliff edge of removal of benefits if they should take up employment and faster access to mental health support. In one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard at Conference, they described how they can’t remember a time when they weren’t a carer. They care for their disabled mother with their sibling. They described how the last time they and their sibling were able to do anything social together was 23 years ago when they went to the cinema as 11 year olds.

They broke down as they described their love for their mother and the fact that they have never had respite care as the arrangements that would be made for her would not meet her needs. Carers are desperate, they said, and need the help set out in the motion.

Charley’s amendment passed with not one single vote against.

Young Liberal Katharine Macy, said that if her mum died tomorrow, she wouldn’t have any idea about how she would pay for the funeral. She described how three people she has cared for her in her life have passed away and the problems that this has caused. Her amendment gives anyone who is eligible for Carer’s Allowance the right to a Funeral Expenses Payment.

The main proposals in the motion which you can read here, are:

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Midge Ure talks about the impact of Brexit on British creative industries

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We were promised a real treat yesterday evening.

Those of us who remember the 80s will know that Midge Ure was the lead singer of Ultravox. Significantly he was also one of the organisers of Band Aid and Live Aid, as well as co-writer of Do they know it’s Christmas. And here he was ‘in conversation’ with the BBC’s Gavin Esler and Lib Dem peer Paul Strasburger at our own Conference.

Of course, he had an axe to grind. If you think Covid-19 has damaged the music industry – and that is certainly true –  it is also reeling from the impact of Brexit. Back in January LDV highlighted the Lib Dem campaign about the huge bureaucracy that will make it difficult, if not impossible, for British musicians to tour and perform across Europe.

Gavin Esler began by stating that the creative industries in the UK are admired across the world – “they are the UK’s soft power”.

All three speakers were keen to explain that the post-Brexit issues not only affect music, across all genres, but also theatre, dance and even trade shows. Touring is the lifeblood of many of the performing arts; and for musicians it is often the best or only way to generate an income, now that streaming has substantially reduced income from recordings. And it doesn’t just impact on the performers but also on the livelihoods of all the support staff.

The difficulties seem to coalesce around two main problems. The first is trucking. Performances given in Europe by orchestras or well-established theatre companies, or by bands playing to large venues, need to move their equipment, instruments, sets, lighting and sound systems in trucks. Under the Brexit deal the trucks are only allowed to do two drops before returning to the UK.  Of course, very many tours will go to more than two venues – indeed they need to do so to be profitable. On top of that a huge amount of documentation is required, listing every item carried by the trucks.

A couple of years ago I was chatting with the Transport Manager for one of the major orchestras in the UK, and was astonished (though I shouldn’t have been) at the complexity of organising a tour across several countries with 50+ musicians plus other staff. One of his aims was to reduce the stress on the artists, so they could perform well. The logistics were challenging then – now they would be almost impossible.

The second problem is obtaining the temporary work visas required by at least 10 European countries for everyone in the entourage – performers, sound engineers, roadies etc. This is a bureaucratic nightmare.

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Updated Agenda and Directory for Conference

You can now read online or download an updated version of the Conference Agenda.

For the first time this includes all the amendments to motions, and they have been inserted after each relevant motion. The original page numbering of the motions has been cleverly maintained by giving the inserted pages numbers like 16B. That means we can all refer to the motions without confusion, no matter which version we have to hand. The updated version of the Agenda is only available online and not in print.

You can also read or download the latest version of the Conference Directory, which includes a number of additions and corrections to the original version.

The two updated documents replace Conference Extra, which in past years covered amendments to motions plus any changes to the fringes, training and the exhibition.

Other papers are available to download:

Consultation Paper 144: A Federal England
Policy Paper 140: Giving Consumers a Fair Deal
Reports to Spring Conference
 

 

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John Shipley writes: A Federal England – what should it mean?

Late last year I was asked by the Federal Policy Committee to chair a working group on regional powers in England within a Federal UK. The group was charged with developing policy on powers for the level between local government and the Federal government, taking into account the broader vision set out in conference motion “The Creation of a Federal United Kingdom” (passed at Autumn Conference in 2020). The group was asked to build on existing policy as set out in policy paper 117 Power to the People (2014) and policy paper 130 Power for People and Communities (2018) and consider models from other Federal States such as the Federal Republic of Germany.

A modernised Federal United Kingdom has long been a key priority for Liberal Democrats – encompassing a fair voting system for all elections, reforming the House of Lords into a Senate, and developing a written constitution.

The motion passed in September 2020 represents an important foundation for the creation of an England of the Regions

It sets out principles for the UK to become a union of its nations and regions.  In relation to England, it says we believe in a truly federal United Kingdom with an equitable distribution of resources between different parts of the United Kingdom based on their respective needs. It refers to federal and state governments in which subsidiarity applies to the nations and regions of the Union and in which the exercise of public responsibilities is decentralised as much as is reasonably practicable. It says that the Upper House should become representative of the nations and regions of the United Kingdom and that there would be a federal Council of Ministers to enable the governments and parliaments of the various parts of the Union to work better, building on the work of joint ministerial committees.

The motion however says nothing about local government. It does not say how many English regions there should be, nor what exact powers they should have. It does not say anything about taxation or how resources would be redistributed. It implies each region can have ministers but not for which departments. Clearly, the detail needs to be filled in – hence the working group.

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Conference proposal to reform the role of party Vice-President

During our Spring Conference, this Friday (19th March, 2021), I hope you’ll join the evening debate on my Motion, F9, which seeks some reforms to my role as Party Vice President.

The role was created as a result of The Alderdice Review which called for a senior party figure to be given the authority to further the party’s work on diversity and, specifically, in relation to ethnic minority communities.

The Lib Dem Campaign for Race Equality championed this call and, together with the then Party President, Sal Brinton and the Federal Board, ensured that it came to fruition.

I was first elected to this role in 2019 and was elected again in 2020. The electorate was the Federal Board. One of the major reforms to my role is my call for it to be elected by the wider party membership.

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Small businesses will be the engine of recovery say Welsh Lib Dems

The Welsh Liberal Democrats hold their on line conference this weekend – the last before the Senedd – Welsh Parliament – elections in May. The Party is ambitious in its aim to win seats across Wales in both urban and rural areas and the conference this weekend will focus on putting the recovery first through policies on the environment, mental health and rebuilding our economy. The party has focused on businesses and green economic growth.

Wales is a nation of towns and villages, and small businesses. We know our small businesses will be the engine of our recovery from Covid, and will be key to rebuilding a resilient, strong and sustainable economy, putting right the failures of decades of under-investment in Wales.

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Spring Conference is next weekend. Got something to say? Let everyone know through LDV

Our Spring Conference begins next Friday and continues across the weekend. There is, as always, a busy agenda. Among the topics on Friday are local government, Covid-19, lifting barriers to work for disabled people and a speech from Jane Dodds. Saturday there will a Q&A with Ed Davey, debates on utilities, the Russia Report, Covid-19, Brexit and a speech from Willie Rennie. Sunday will see the leader’s speech and debates on autism, international development, accessibility in education and on refugees.

If you have views on these topics why not write an article for Lib Dem Voice? We expect to publish several articles towards the end of next week.

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Federal Committee report – Spring Conference 2021 motion selection

The Federal Conference Committee met via Zoom call on Saturday, 16 January for the agenda selection for our second virtual conference. The meeting was a lengthy one, which was in part due to the large selection of varied and interesting motions we received, but also to give us breaks from staring at computer screens for a number of hours.

As you will be aware, this year we will not be heading up to the historic city of York, but instead you will be able to take part in Conference from your own home via our third party provider, Hopin. You will be able to find more information about the virtual conference. If you are planning to attend conference, we highly recommend taking part in the interactive exhibitions and the fringes.

The FCC wants to pay its thanks to the continued amazing efforts of the Conference Office team and members who have worked so incredibly hard.

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The time is now for planning Beveridge-2

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Post-Covid and after the delivery of Brexit, our country needs radical reforms of the kind Sir William Beveridge proposed for the end of the Second World War. He wanted a comprehensive programme of reforms, to cover the social injustice and unfairness he saw around him. The reforms should result in alleviating poverty, limiting disease, stopping homelessness, improving education and providing jobs for everyone who needed them.

These are the areas in which radical reform is needed again today. The social contract that existed between government and people in the post-war world has broken down and requires renewing. The Liberal Democrats as the heirs of the Liberal Beveridge are uniquely well placed to demand a new Beveridge-type reform plan.

A business motion has now been sent to the Conference Committee for possible debate at our March Conference. Entitled Beveridge-2 Plan within a Social Contract, it calls for the party to pursue a campaign for a Beveridge-type Plan of radical reforms. The Plan should seek solutions for all the social ills which afflict our country and which have worsened so much recently. It must focus on relieving the growing poverty and restoring full employment, on providing integrated and sufficient health and social care, on ensuring that there are enough homes including social housing available at affordable cost, and on remedying the growing deficiencies of education for all children.

The motion proposes a radical way forward to create the Plan. It requires the party to immediately establish a Commission, to consider urgently how our policies may be grouped and developed to constitute the new Plan, asking progressive politicians and academics to contribute to it. The Commission would then report to Conference next autumn on how the work is developing, with a recommendation that the Policy Committee develop a Consultation paper on the Plan for the Spring Conference next year.

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