Tag Archives: autumn conference 2013

LDVideo: Nick Clegg playing table tennis

During the Federal Conference, Nick Clegg went on a visit to Drumchapel Table Tennis club in Glasgow and ended up actually playing a game. I suspect the collective blood pressure of his entourage was a bit on the elevated side while he was doing it. After all, they usually make sure that their principals never get into any situation that could cause embarrassment.

Thankfully, though, Nick is pretty good at table tennis and acquitted himself well.

The club filmed the proceedings and put it up here on You Tube.

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Opinon: Don’t confuse declining membership with a decline in interest in politics

A couple of months ago I was thinking about going to the Glasgow conference. I’d never been before. ‘You’ll enjoy it’ said some fellow local party members, “and you can be a voting rep too if you decide soon.”

My wife spotted the chance of a weekend away from the children.

‘Can I come?’

‘Well I was hoping you’d come but you’ll have to join the party’

So we both decided to go at the last minute, with her joining the party the week before. With a little complication on getting her security cleared we went for three days until we’d exhausted the goodwill …

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Caron’s musings on Federal Conference in Glasgow

I know, I know, it’s been a week since the Glasgow conference and I still haven’t got around to writing my usual round up post. You can put that down to there being a by-election in the offing in Dunfermline. I’ll warn you that this post is quite long, but if you make it to the end, you will be rewarded. Click on the last link. Anyway, before it gets more than embarrassingly late to do this, here are my random thoughts:

Nick got it right

My heart sank in the run-up to Conference as I read countless newspaper articles suggesting that …

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A tale of two conferences

What a week it has been from arriving as a fresh faced first timer at Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow on Saturday after an epic 7 hour coach journey to finally being home and feeling a lot less sleep deprived.

I’m in a relatively unique position having been able to attend and take part in two different party political conferences. For the last two years, I attended and spoke at Labour Conference. In May of this year, I joined the Liberal Democrats. You can read more about that here.

I thought it might be interesting to talk about the main differences and similarities between both parties’ annual gatherings.

For the Liberal Democrats, Conference is formally opened before moving to wine and the conference rally. For Labour it’s much the same but a day later and then the fringes start. The Liberal Democrats discuss policy, and vote on motions published in advance with an opportunity to amend them should conference wish. In Labour they discuss up to 6 contemporary issues which are submitted by constituency parties. These general topics are voted on and then composited. There are votes at labour conferences, but never any debate or contentiousness – very different from the Liberal Democrats.

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Observer reports enquiry into leader’s team’s press briefings on Cable

From today’s Observer:

The Liberal Democrat leader is investigating an allegation that members of the media have been briefed with erroneous information damaging Cable’s position in the party.

The move followed an angry complaint from an MP during a meeting of the parliamentary party at last week’s Lib Dem conference in Glasgow. The dispute centres on an economic debate held during an away day for Lib Dem MPs last month.

A number of reports, including one by the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson, alleged that Cable lost heavily when he proposed at the event that the government should borrow more, at current

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The best speeches of Liberal Democrat Conference

I thought it would be good to remember some of the best speeches of this year’s Autumn conference. I wrote down a list of 7 that I thought were fantastic and then decided to ask Twitter.  The list that they came up with was remarkably similar. So, without further ado, and in no particular order until the end, let’s go through them:

First up, Glasgow’s own Paul Coleshill comparing renewal of Trident to a middle aged man buying a flashy sports car to prove his virility, but was only able to use it 3 days a week.

The Economy

In the economy debate two speeches caught people’s eye. Our own Nick Thornsby’s, described by Nick Clegg as “brilliant” said:

The great 19th century liberals of my home town of Rochdale ­­– John Bright and Richard Cobden –­­ led the way in persuading the country of the benefits of free trade. Now we, conference, should do the same again. Forging trade deals between the EU and America. Pushing the World Trade Organsation to re­-start talks on a global trade deal. Completing, finally, the European Single Market.

Because we know, as did Bright and Cobden, that it will not be government spending that restores prosperity, both here and abroad. It is through free trade, by opening up our economy and defeating the forces of protection that we can create the wealth needed to improve living standards and reduce poverty.

Prateek Buch, who had crafted the amendments, said in his speech:

It isn’t doom mongering to say that while output overall is rising again, living standards for those worst hit by the crash – those who have missed out the fruits of growth since long before the current crisis – have definitely not, and they won’t if the current path continues.

The capacity of people to secure for themselves a decent standard of living doesn’t grow when GDP is inflated any old how in pursuit of some feel good headlines – labours record in government is a powerful reminder of that. It grows through innovation as the motion indicates and ad vince is striving to deliver – and it grows through investment.

A debate of pure quality that we can be very proud of, not least because of this man being brave enough to sum it up:

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Party Awards 2013: The Winners

Every year, a panel of judges including Tim Farron and representatives from the Scottish and Welsh parties make 4 awards which are traditionally presented by the Party President  just before the Leaders’ Speech at Conference.

This year’s winners are as follows. The words are Tim Farron’s.

The Dadabhai Naoroji Award to a local party for support and promotion of BAME party members

This year, our winning local party has one of our most high profile BAME candidates in a seat I know they’re planning on winning – they’ve been reaching out to their large Indian and Jewish communities locally – they’ve had for

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Opinion: About those low Conference voting figures…

When 444 votes were cast in the 50p top tax rate debate and 413 in the nuclear power vote, some comments were made about these appearing to be low figures compared to past conferences.
However the rush to judgement on them were flawed for three reasons.
First, there were rather more votes cast in the Trident debate (550 – thanks to the get out the vote operation by the party leadership not misfiring that time.)
Second, attendance at federal conferences is always lower in Scotland than when it is in southern England, reflecting the relative travel distances for the bulk of the

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Conference Preview: Wednesday 18 September

Conference closes exactly one year away from the Scottish independence Referendum. To mark the occasion, Secretary of State for Scotland will develop the themes of identity he’s been talking about recently. He’ll say:

I am a Borderer and a Scot.

I’m proud of those things.

But as a twenty first century Scot, I have another layer to my identity.

I am British and I’m proud of that, too.

So are most Scots.

The vast majority of people I speak to – friends, constituents, people in communities the length and breadth of Scotland – are at ease with their identities.

Glaswegians, Borderers, highlanders, Fifers, islanders.

Across the country, people

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Conference agrees reduced nuclear deterrent by 322 votes to 228

This morning’s debate on defence was heavily dominated by just one subject – whether or not Britain should continue to have a nuclear deterrent.

An amendment rejecting any renewal of Trident, which had no big name backers, came within 100 votes of defeating Danny Alexander’s motion. It was quite an achievement for the amendment’s proposer, George Potter, to get it at least to a counted vote.

The speech of the debate came from Glasgow’s Paul Coleshill who likened replacing Trident to a middle aged man buying a sports car as a mid life crisis – but one he could only use on …

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Conference Preview: Tuesday 17th September

Welcome to part 4 of my stroll through the Conference agenda. This one is actually being prepared live, so I can add in a couple of hints and tips that I’ve gleaned over the first few days.

Handy hints

1) It is much quicker to go outside to get between the Crowne Plaza,Exhibition and Clyde Auditorium rather than take the labyrinthine, interminable corridors inside.

2) I only discovered last night that there is a corridor full of comfy, quiet sofas with power points for charging phones on the way to the Leven  room in the SECC. Mind you , now I’ve said it, …

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And the winners are……

A brief escape from the balloons, streamers, laughter and merriment to tell you the winners of our awards:

Tweeter/Facebooker of the year: Liberal Youth

Favourite Labour MP: Alan Johnson

Best online campaign run by a Liberal Democrat: No Government above the Law: Liberal Democrats against secret courts

Political commentator of the Year: Andrew Rawnsley

Political Broadcaster of the Year: Eddie Mair

The Tim Garden Award: Tim Farron

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Opinion: It shall not pass: The case against F17, the motion on protecting children from online pornography

Many of you will have seen or heard about motion F17 – Protecting Children From Online Pornography. If you are here in Glasgow at Autumn Conference, you will have also heard about the campaign to stop this motion, either through a reference back or voting it down. This motion must not be allowed to pass, either as is or amended, and here we want to lay out five reasons why:

1. Impossible to Implement

The recommendations put forward in both in the motion and amendment, are simply unworkable. The Internet does not work in the same way as other broadcast media,. As …

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The Independent View: A liberal democracy must protect all people from the state. Support Emergency Motion 2 on Legal Aid

Last week Chris Grayling, the Minister for Justice, responded to 16,000 consultation objections, with changes to his criminal legal aid proposals.  He conceded that someone who’s been arrested should be able to choose their solicitor; and criminal representation shouldn’t be just about price, but quality too.

You may think justice has been saved. But it hasn’t. Far from it. Which is why we are asking you to urge your conference voting reps to choose the Legal Aid Motion (Emergency Motion 2) for debate.

Because Chris Grayling is still removing legal aid and access to justice from whole groups of people, defined by …

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Conference Preview: Monday 16th September

This is the third part of my wander through the conference agenda. You can find Saturday’s here and Sunday’s here.

First up on Monday morning is a debate on the new Liberal Democrat approach to race equality. The motion argues that it’s really important to develop targeted strategies for each under-represented or discriminated-against group to tackle the issues which are specific to them. It calls for measures on things like school exclusion, university recruitment, equality monitoring for every organisation in receipt of public money and diversity in the school curriculum.

A massive confrontation on the economy?

The media will bill the debate on …

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Caron’s guide to the craziness of Conference – updated

Federal Conference is probably the best fun that you will ever have in your life. You will thoroughly enjoy every exhausting moment. If you’re new, it can be a bit overwhelming until you get used to the sensory overload. I had a long break from going to them and when I returned, two years ago, I spent the first day wandering round like a child in a toy shop.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d throw together a fairly random list of tips and hints for getting the best out of the annual cornucopia of Liberal Democracy.

1. Plan your

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Opinion: Tools to make the recovery stronger, fairer

The Social Liberal Forum’s amendments to Nick Clegg’s economy motion – supported by an unprecedented number of voting representatives – seek to ensure that the party retains distinctive, independent economic narrative up to and beyond the next election. The narrative behind Nick’s motion – which, to be clear, has a great deal that Liberal Democrats can be proud of – is clear enough. Here is the rationale behind our amendments.

On housing, the motion highlights government guarantee schemes that are yet to scratch the surface of the housing shortage, and recognises that “house building remains well below historical averages.” The …

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Opinion: Vote for Emergency Motion 3 on the Lobbying Bill

The lobbying bill is either cock-up or conspiracy

is the verdict of Robert Barrington, the executive director of Transparency International UK.

Glasgow North Local Party has submitted an emergency motion on the Bill to Federal Conference.  If you are a conference delegate please vote for our motion in Sunday’s ballot to choose the three emergency or topical motions which will actually be debated later in the week.

The Transparency of Lobbying, non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill  to give it its full title, was sneaked out just as MPs went on holiday.  An unusually tight timetable has been set and the …

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The Independent View: Conference 2013: Lib Dems must stand up for the environment

For a fleeting moment in May 2010 there was genuine optimism that the environment might be put at the heart of Britain’s political agenda.

With a coalition of Liberal Democrats, praised by many, including Friends of the Earth, for their manifesto’s prioritisation of environmental issues, joining forces with a ‘vote blue, go green’ Tory party, fresh from championing the Climate Change Act, it looked as if yellow and blue really could produce green.

But three and a half years later Cameron’s pledge to lead the “greenest Government ever” now seems little more than a cynical sound bite.

Perhaps less expected is the …

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Opinion: Getting the facts right on the Living Wage

One of the key battlegrounds on which the 2015 General Election will be fought is living costs, especially for those on low and low-to-middle incomes.  With times tough and the cost of many basic items essential for living having outpaced wage inflation for a decade (according to the most comprehensive study of the subject, led by the Resolution Foundation but with considerable input from business and other organisations) – and with no money left in the public purse – answers are not easy.

The Liberal Democrats have, rightly, chosen to address this by a range of measures, and the key …

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Conference Preview: Sunday 15th September

This is the second part of my meander through the conference agenda. You can find Saturday’s here.

Those Powers that Be don’t miss a trick, do they? Part of Conference’s job is to scrutinise the party committees. So, when do they put on the report of the most unaccountable committee in the Party, the Federal Finance and Administration Committee? First thing on Sunday morning when many representatives will be sleeping off the effects of the Glasgow ales and whiskies from the night before. Immediately after comes the vote of the Parliamentary Parties. If you have any questions about, for example, …

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Opinion: Socks, Sandals and Party Democracy-or Why Spring Conference Is so Important

Paddy Ashdown talks on "The global power shift" in Brussels March 1st 2012 -  Some rights reserved by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE Do you remember your first conference? I certainly remember mine.

It was in Birmingham several years ago; stewards had a quick look through my bag inside the conference centre, and then I started queueing for a coffee. I suddenly realised that the man in front of me was the great Paddy Ashdown. I was so starstruck, I had to leave!

Once my overwhelming awe had dissipated, I got lost in a whirlwind of speeches, debates and policy-making; and that was just a coffee shop. Sadly I’d forgotten my sandals, I have to confess I didn’t see as many as the right-wing media would have us believe.

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Julian Huppert writes: Preventing and tackling sexual violence

Eliminating violence against women - Some rights reserved by European ParliamentNearly one third of women and nearly one fifth of men say they have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16. Yet it remains an under-reported, misunderstood and incredibly damaging crime.

Last year alone in the UK around 1.2 million women and 800,000 men suffered domestic abuse and over 400,000 women were sexually assaulted.

But, the sad fact is this number is probably wrong, the true figure is thought to be far worse. Victims still fear coming forward while there is also a significant lack of understanding over what counts as domestic violence, especially amongst young people. It is frankly terrifying that some young men and women still believe violence in a relationship is normal. This must change.

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Stephen Williams writes: Stand up to Big Tobacco and help us win a vote in Parliament

1920s woman in silk kimono smoking using a cigarette holderCalling all Voting Reps – Vote for Emergency Motion 7 on Tobacco Plain Packaging

At this year’s autumn conference in Glasgow Lib Dem voting reps have the chance to change history, to go up against Big Tobacco and their secretive lobbyists, some of them at the heart of the Tory Party, and to help us win a vote in Parliament to protect young people from tobacco advertising. Nearly two thirds of smokers started before they were 18.

Currently tobacco companies can market …

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The Liberal Democrat Voice Team at Conference

Comic Con foursomeLast Saturday, the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre was full of trolls, superheroes, and Pokemon. I kid you not. 20,000 people, many of them in costume,  turned up for the Scottish Comic Con event. My daughter, or Karkat Vantas as she preferred to be called, was one of them. The photo shows a selection of the colourful and elaborate costumes on show.

Next Saturday, it’ll be full of Liberal Democrats gathering for Conference. Insert your own joke here. In the first of a series of preview posts, I …

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Conference Preview: Saturday 14th September

I thought it might be helpful to have a wee mosy around the Conference agenda and highlight some of the must-see picks of each day.

You can always guarantee with a Conference agenda that there will be at least two things you want to do at any given moment. In fact, if it’s only two, that’s a bonus. On Saturday, I need to split myself into 10 to do everything I need to do.

The age old concept of divide and rule is alive and well in 2013. If you have two highly contentious consultation sessions likely to be attended by roughly …

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Amendment watch: preparing the ground for Conference debates in Glasgow

The deadline for amendments to Conference motions is  1 pm next Monday, 2nd September. This means that, all over the country, people will be emailing all their contacts trying to drum up support for their particular amendment. This can be quite a difficult process. So, I thought, why doesn’t Liberal Democrat Voice try and make it a bit smoother?

I have asked about in various places for details of proposed amendments going round and I’ll give details of them further down. If you want to highlight one that you are working on, please post details in the comments. We’ll need to …

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Opinion: A more realistic approach to Defence policy

defenceThe Liberal Democrat Working Group on Defence came out last month with its policy paper “Defending the Future: UK Defence in the 21st Century”. Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats made a detailed submission – praised by members of the working group – which also shows some alternative paths for the party’s defence policy. We suggest it is well worth a read before the party’s new defence policy motion comes up for debate at this Autumn’s party conference.

The Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats’ paper calls for a more thought-through, long-term and realistic strategic approach by the Government, including defining more precisely Britain’s role in the world, a reform of security and defence-related institutions, the constant update of the threat assessment, the creation of out-of-area alliances to share military burden, ways for less expensive procurement, the capacity to regenerate of military forces quickly in time of war – and much more.

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Party Reform: The Interim Peers List, is it fit for purpose?

House of Lords. Photo: Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of ParliamentTim Farron, our Party President has long championed concerns about how democratic  the Lib Dems really are and how can we do better.  Federal Executive has now set up the Democratic Reform Group which I chair.  Our first task has been to take a hard look at the Interim Peers List and we have published a consultation paper on this together with organising a meeting at Glasgow to consult members about improvements to the process.  The Interim Peers list is an group of people elected by Conference Representatives from which the Party Leader can make nominations to the House of Lords.

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The Independent View: Liberal Democrats should support nuclear power

nuclear-power-station

Liberal Democrats should vote to support nuclear power at the 2013 conference. I say this after 20 years campaigning against nuclear power, including five years as head of Greenpeace UK. Nuclear is not perfect. But it is better than fossil fuels.

The best form of energy is energy efficiency. Next best are renewables. But however efficient we get, and however fast we expand wind, it will take many decades before we can be entirely reliant on renewables. Denmark has set itself a target of 2050 for this. The EU has a target of 20% by 2020. If the 2020 target is met, that still leaves 80% of the journey to travel. So other low-carbon technologies are needed to protect the climate.

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