Tag Archives: autumn conference 2014

Opinion: A radical, Liberal and localist alternative to NHS commissioning

nhs sign lrgLast week at Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow the party amicably and democratically settled one of its longest-running disagreements, about the way in which NHS services should be commissioned.

This is a subject Liberal Democrats need no introduction to. It has been a thorn in our side ever since Andrew Lansley first published his White Paper, “Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS” (2010), and culminated in Conference’s refusal to endorse the policy in Gateshead in 2012, instead neutering the so-called “Shirley Williams amendment”.

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Nick Clegg’s speech: 5 initial thoughts from me – and reaction from members and pundits

Nick Clegg has just delivered his seventh conference speech – you can read it here. Five quick thoughts from me:

1. It’s rare to remember party leaders’ speeches. However, I’ve a feeling this one will be remembered. Not necessarily stylistically — its rhetoric or his delivery — but for a government policy announcement: the emphasis on mental health-care which Nick made a centre-piece and which he has said will be on the front page of the party’s manifesto. Yes, there were plenty of positioning soundbites. But, more importantly, this announcement demonstrated, better than any finely crafted words, the point …

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Wednesday debates open thread: Nick Clegg’s speech

Traditionally not many people turn up first thing on the last day – most are sleeping off Glee Club – but it would be a shame to miss the second emergency motion. After that the day builds up to the Leader’s speech,  with, unusually, no break for lunch and no lunchtime fringes. (I wonder how many of us will be finding ways of wasting our time in Glasgow because we had assumed it wouldn’t be over until 3.30pm at the earliest?)

So for the last time this year, do add your comments about any debates and speeches in the auditorium.

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Glasgow Gossip: Fashion special

After all the obsession with Nick Clegg’s clothes yesterday, here’s some more Glasgow Conference fashion:

Here are Reading’s John Grout resplendent in yellow trousers with candidates for Reading East and West Jenny Woods (left) and Meri O’Connell.

john grout and co

Nottingham’s Sarah Brown resplendent in her crocheted black and yellow dress which she made herself. She takes commissions and does a great line in glittery crocheted Santa hats:

sarah brown

 

 

 

And this fellow was part of a Friends of the Earth campaign to get solar …

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Conference Speeches: Kavya Kaushik from Saturday’s Rally

We have managed to get hold of a  wonderful speech given by former Liberal Youth co-Chair Kavya Kaushik at Saturday’s rally in which she talked of the joy of campaigning across the country and of the importance of defending our liberal values. Here it is in full:

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Tuesday extras open thread: Ending in Glee

This is almost your last chance to fit in some fringe experiences this year – there are no lunchtime fringes tomorrow, and only six early ones.

Tuesday begins with Britain’s global economic recovery and ends with Glee Club – make what you will of that. In between you can update yourself on such diverse topics as residential care, criminal justice, rail, disability employment, welfare, immigration, tourism, food security, tax avoidance, garden cities and devo-max for Manchester.

Tell us how your day is panning out.

How to find out what is happening

You can view or download the directory, which lists all the fringe …

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Tuesday debates open thread: The big one – our pre-manifesto

The main event of the day is the pre-Manifesto debate which will take up most of the morning, giving way only for football.

The first emergency motion will take place this afternoon. Delegates have been voting on which two motions to take.  In between there is a chance to hear Norman Lamb, Edward Davey and Tim Farron, and to discuss our aging society.

So what ‘s does the agenda look like?

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Opinion: Conference season so far – and what’s with the Tories and Human Rights anyhow?

Normally, as you all know, Lib Dem conference comes before Labour and Tory conferences. But this year, due to the timing of the Scottish independence referendum, Lib Dem conference is the last one up.

This means that for those of us who luckily (or unluckily, depending on your point of view) form part of the travelling circus that does all three conferences each year, instead of turning up bright eyed and bushytailed at our conference we’ve already done Tory conference, usually a killer health wise. I myself already have a mild case of conference flu that I’ve taken to Glasgow with me.

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Conference speeches: Kirsty Williams: Liberal Democrats are the radical, positive choice

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams gave her keynote speech to Conference this morning. Full of passion, radicalism and determination to fight the divisive, dog-whistle politics we are seeing more and more of these days. I don’t think I have ever wanted to run out of the hall and get a speech up on here quite so much. I have to say to Paddy that if he doesn’t make sure Kirsty is on telly every single day of the short election campaign and as much as possible between now and then, I will actually challenge him to a fight. And I will win.

Here it is in full. I particularly loved the section on why Scots voted yes. She was realistic and shows the sort of attitude that I felt that we needed to see more of during the campaign. And she said it straight, that complacency in Westminster allowed nationalism to thrive in Scotland.

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Monday extras open thread: Breakfast, lunch and party

Today is the day to do breakfast. Let us know if it was worth getting up early to attend one of the many breakfast fringe meetings.

There is much going on throughout the rest of the day – have you noticed that fringe meetings have crept into the business day now?  Whether you want to hear about good parking management, drink driving, end-of-life priorities, aviation, experiments on animals, mental health, farming, trams, police constables or internships, you may want to end the evening celebrating the UK music industry at a party with Danny Alexander.

Here’s a photo of Stephen Tall not paying attention …

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Monday debates open thread: Flooding and equal marriage (unconnected, of course)

There is a definite theme to this morning’s agenda – climate change, flooding and housing – while the afternoon highlights core Lib Dem values with a presentation on equal marriage followed by a debate on equalities. In between we hear from some of the heavyweights in the party (in the non-literal sense) and we throw questions at Nick Clegg.

Please adds your comments on anything that is happening today in the main hall.

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Conference Speeches: Steve Webb: “We spend £37 billion on pensions tax relief, mostly on well-off. Next Government will need to address the unfairness

Continuing our series of Conference speeches reproduced in full, here is Steve Webb’s from this afternoon. He said that he wants the next Government to look at tax relief on pensions and he looked back on the work that he had been doing on pensions over the last four years. He also revealed that the donor who gave £1 million to UKIP is standing against him in May. If this bothers you, If this bothers you in any way, you can donate to his local party here.

Those of you who were paying attention to the news last week will have seen the story of the former Tory party donor who has now given a million pounds to UKIP.   What you may have missed is that he has announced that he will be standing against me at the next General Election.

This sort of announcement certainly focuses your mind on the issue of fund-raising, and our next jumble sale will have to be a real corker!   Indeed, if anyone in the hall would like to help us level the playing field in Thornbury and Yate, I will be available to receive donations, but nothing over £100,000 please..

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Conference Speeches: Willie Rennie – “If you want to stop the talk of ‘the 45’ or ‘the 55’ and talk about ‘One Scotland’, to take forward a programme of reform to unite the country, then we are your party.”

Willie Rennie challenged Nicola Sturgeon to reveal whether she is a Borgen Liberal or a Salmond Nationalist. He was also keen to emphasise that more powers must be delivered. He said that Labour and the Tories must not be timid in their approach:

For the first time ever the people of Scotland were given the power. 

The democratic power to decide whether to continue our relationship with our friends in the rest of the United Kingdom.

With ballots not bullets. 

By the people not the Lairds. 

After open debate not behind closed doors. 

I am so proud that people quietly, but with confidence, said no to independence.

And in numbers now rarely seen in democracies they said yes – yes to partnership, yes to sharing, yes to our common endeavour and yes with an open hand;

Comfortable in our own skin, generous in our compassion, proud of who we are.

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Sunday extras open thread: From Christian humanism to live jazz

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the LDV Awards evening yesterday. So what will be the fun events today?

There is a very full programme on the fringe today – from promoting healthy lifestyles to the Gibraltar reception, from cycling to the future of the BBC, with several sessions on various environmental issues. The RSPCA is offering beer and curry, and there will be live jazz at the Azerbaijan reception.

Do let us all know about any events you went to, or any worth dropping in for.

How to find out what is happening

You can view or download the directory, which …

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Nick Clegg’s conference rally speech: “We may be the underdogs but we have the values, beliefs and resilience to win”

“This is the fight of our lives” – that was the message from Nick Clegg at last night’s conference rally. You can watch it here:

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Sunday debates open thread: From first aid to child abuse via crime and public services

Thanks to everyone who contributed to yesterday’s open thread. Please add your reports, comments and recommendations on today’s business in the main hall below, sticking to things that are happening today.

This will be the first full day of action in the splendid auditorium here at the SECC. Expect a full house for the debates on Welfare Reform and Public Services. In between, why not check out today’s Extras thread (fringes and everything else) which we will be posting at 10.30am?

So what is happening today at Conference?

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Glasgow Gossip #1

A couple of tales which have reached my ears. Both of which involve the over-imbibing of alcohol.

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Lord Brian Paddick writes… Is it reasonable to ban runway expansion across the UK?

Runway photo by Today is a good dayThis Conference we will be debating our Pre-Manifesto.  Of the huge number of policy proposals there is one likely to incite a great deal of considered debate within the Party – the commitment to no net increase in runways across the UK.  The pre-manifesto bans any expansion at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick and it prohibits a new airport in the Thames Estuary.  Is this a reasonable position to take?

I am a loyal Liberal Democrat and like most of us, I am conscious of the need to protect our environment.  I don’t have a car.  My world is my Oyster Card and unless I’m late for a very important date, I take the bus, train or tube everywhere.

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Saturday extras open thread: Conference Rally and the LDV Awards

We hope you’ve spotted the open thread on the action taking place in the main auditorium today. In comparison, this thread is for you to talk about fringe meetings, the exhibition and all the other things going on around the main business.

The fringe kicks off today with a few events at lunchtime organised by CentreForum, Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary and Liberal Left. But the main events follow the Conference Rally which starts at 6.30pm in the main auditorium. After that you have a fairly limited choice of fringe meetings, probably because people tend to spend the early part of …

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Saturday debates open thread: Welcome to Glasgow

Whether you are physically in Glasgow or are following what is happening from home, this is your place to talk about the public face of the Conference – in other words, all the debates and speeches that are going on in the main auditorium.  Please use the comments below to add your reports on policy and constitutional debates or to draw readers’ attention to ones in the pipeline.

We will be running a similar thread each day, so please confine your comments today to what is actually happening today. Tomorrow’s instalment will appear at 8.30am tomorrow morning.

We will also be running a thread each day on fringes, so use that one for anything going on outside the main show.

So what is happening today at Conference?

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Caron’s Conference Selection: must-read stories from today’s press and online commentary

Here are my must-read stories from today’s press about Liberal Democrat Conference. You wouldn’t expect anything else from a Guardian editorial than to emphasise our shortcomings and the electoral challenges we face. And this one certainly does that. It notices with curiosity the results of yesterday’s survey which show that 80% of respondents to our survey support the Coalition. However, it recognises that we are unique in one respect and are needed on the political scene:

 In the Guardian’s view, British politics needs the Liberal Democrats for one thing above all. It needs them to provide the parliamentary nerve of outrage against an unreformed political system and against encroachments on civil liberties which is so often dulled in the other major parties.

It follows, especially in a week when the Tories have signalled more anti-terror powers and neutering the European human rights court, that the Lib Dems must make a virtue at every turn of their principled liberal view of justice and human rights. They may wish to claim to have done good work in government on pensions, school finance, bank reform and increasing personal allowances — and some bits, perhaps even all, of that may be true in some ways. But the party’s uniqueness remains its commitment to the rule of law, to human rights, to empowering the individual against an over-mighty state, to reforming and devolving politics and government, and to insistent internationalism. It matters that a party that stood up for proper press reform, against the snoopers’ charter and asked some of the questions others have feared to ask about the Edward Snowden revelations should survive.

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Opinion: Human trafficking must be an important part of safer sex work strategy

The policy motion about safer sex work is an interesting topic to debate especially as fifty-five victims of human trafficking were identified in Scotland last year.

Conference will be concerned about solicitation and sex workers being forced into isolated areas where they are more at danger of sexual and physical violence. This is all fair and well but surely this is a concern of human trafficking too?

The definition of trafficking a person is the movement of them for the purpose of exploitation, which often leads to what is known as modern day slavery. It’s usually the most vulnerable people who become trapped. There are four main forms of human trafficking they are forced labour, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation and deprivation. This motion concerns sexual exploitation a form of human trafficking but is only mentioned as a concern in the motion and then later  promoting solutions to combat international trafficking is mentioned in passing.

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Opinion: Less than 2% of members will vote at Conference: this is not an ‘internal democracy’ of which we can be proud

We make much of the fact that we’re the most internally democratic of the political parties. We say that it is our members who vote on policy, elect those who organise our conferences, and those who hold our party officers to account.

But in reality, it is just a fraction of our members who perform these functions: less than 2% in fact.

Of our total membership, just 5% are appointed as voting representatives. Of this 5%, just 1.63% have – as of today – registered to attend our forthcoming Autumn conference (these figures were provided to the FE sub-group tasked with looking at One Member One Vote). That means that just 1.63% of our total membership are entitled to vote and have registered for conference.

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The Independent View: Politicians don’t do enough to find out what we really want

The Scottish referendum was an important debate for the people in Scotland to have as it affected the future of Scotland and the UK as a whole. It got the whole country involved – which isn’t always the case with politics. However I don’t think I was alone in feeling like I had heard enough of the seemingly endless campaigning.

People always talk about what women voters want, and the referendum was no different, but it sometimes seems like while the politicians talk about what we are interested in they haven’t really bothered to ask us.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged | 21 Comments

Opinion: Human rights and all that jazz

This weekend thousands of Liberal Democrat activists will arrive in Glasgow for the Federal Conference. They’ll debate the major political issues of the day; hold the government to account for its failings and attend the odd fringe meeting. After all, free political discussion and association is a vital element of any modern democracy. But one exhibitor at conference doesn’t agree. The European Azerbaijan Society will be holding  their traditional jazz evening on Sunday, yet this organisation backs the Azerbaijani government that arrests, tortures and jails political activists and human rights campaigners. In Glasgow, activists go to conference. In Azerbaijan, they go to prison.

The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) describes itself as an independent organisation dedicated to forging relationships between Azerbaijan and Europe. In fact, it has has troubling links with the highest echelons of the Azerbaijani dictatorship. Its director, Tale Heydarov, is the son of one of Azerbaijan’s richest and most powerful men (Emergencies Minister Kamaladdin Heydarov). A leaked US diplomatic cable spoke acknowledges that far from being independent,  ‘ talking points very much reflect the goals and objectives of the GOAJ .

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Caron’s Guide to the craziness of Conference – updated for Glasgow 2014

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, three 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. If you have any other Conference survival tips, let me know.

1. Plan your days

The Conference day starts with breakfast fringes as early as 7 and goes on until the small hours. There’s a comprehensive training programme alongside the debates in the hall. There are ministerial surgeries. There are 20 or 30 separate fringe meetings in every fringe slot. You can guarantee that you will never be bored and that several things you want to see will be on at the same time. If you want to go to the big events like the New Statesman or Channel 4 events, you are best advised to get there early because they fill up quickly. Be aware as well that you can eat quite well for free by choosing the right fringe meetings. The NUT’s fish and chip supper on Tuesday is one such example. Get your ticket early from their stand. But it’s much easier if you sort out your diary in advance. The best laid plans will always be subject to a better offer or meeting someone you haven’t seen for years randomly in a corridor, but it’s best to at least try to get some order into the proceedings.

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats must stand up for the Welfare State

Welfare reform is an incredibly important discussion and one that we, as Liberal Democrats, must keep re-visiting to ensure we’re upholding those core principles we hold closest to our hearts. The Liberal Democrats are the only party that offered a home to champion the values of promoting a level playing field and protecting the most vulnerable, ensuring they fulfil their potential through equality of opportunities. After all, these are central tenets of a civilised society fit for the 21st Century.

I am proud that our party has largely blunted the blade with which the Tories had brandished to slice our safety net, the treasured welfare state, right in half. But we  must go further. We must ensure that our manifesto comprehensively deals with the issue of welfare. We must be certain the most vulnerable in society are not enslaved by poverty.

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Conference Preview 2014: The Pre-Manifesto Debate

libdemmanifesto 2010 wordleI thought it might be an idea to get some discussion going about the key Conference debates which are now just days away.

Arguably the most important of these is the motion on the Pre-Manifesto. It’s our shop window to the country, the cornerstone of everything we say or do between now and May.

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Opinion: Education issues at conference?

student_ipad_school - 175What are your current concerns about education policy?  Please do raise them in the comments to this post.  I’ll be meeting with the Liberal Democrats Education Association (LDEA) committee on Sunday and will be able to quote them in discussions where appropriate.

Personally I’ll be focusing on two issues at conference.  I’m very disappointed to see that my policy for reform to public sector regulation and in particular to Ofsted is not in the pre-manifesto. I’ll be attempting to ensure that is addressed at the public sector reform debate on Sunday afternoon.

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Why talking about global poverty reduction without talking about economic growth is a mistake

chinese by Kenno McDonnellBetween 1990 and 2010, the proportion of those living in extreme poverty around the world halved (from 43% to 21%), despite significant increases in the global population. Approaching one billion fewer people are living in extreme poverty now than two decades ago. One of the key United Nations Millennium Development Goals was met 5 years early.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 25 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarFormer Dem 23rd Jul - 2:40pm
    "Roll on a collapse in property prices! It won’t affect those of us who just have a single home, but it will hurt the buy-to-letters....
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 23rd Jul - 2:36pm
    OK what about housing? I'm ashamed of many of my own generation (55+) who have not just been content with doing well out of the...
  • User AvatarMichael Meadowcroft 23rd Jul - 2:33pm
    Here we are yet again with Liberal Democrats desperately searching for the silver bullet - some new formula that will produce political and electoral success...
  • User AvatarDav 23rd Jul - 2:32pm
    Paradoxical older people in warehouse work are getting paid more than under 25’s while the younger workers are probably more efficient given the physical nature...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 23rd Jul - 2:16pm
    @Tom, " A Fairer Share for All" Yes I agree. But isn't this more socialism than liberalism? In the USA, socialism and liberalism are closely...
  • User AvatarJen 23rd Jul - 2:03pm
    An excellent article. I am endlessly puzzled that the "R" in TERF stands for 'Radical' when their values are those of the Reactionary hard right.