Tag Archives: autumn conference 2015

Liberals gather in Bournemouth to pioneer new strategies to rebuild and win again

International Office_with textFollowing the UK General Election on May 7, the Liberal Democrats have taken stock, rallied the membership and elected a new Party Leader, Tim Farron. With 20,000 members having joined the Party since May and 3 recent council election victories, the #libdemfightback is well underway. Liberal parties across Europe have faced challenging elections in the recent past, and it is essential that we share our experiences and learn from both each others’ mistakes and winning strategies.

In order to kick-start this debate, the Liberal Democrats International Office brought together a distinguished panel, including Hans van Baalen, ALDE Vice President, MP and MEP for VVD and former President of Liberal International, Annelou van Egmond, the D66 Director of Communications and key architect of the Party’s revival, Hans Stein, the Head of International Relations for the German FDP; Khatuna Samnidze, the Chairman of the Republican Party of Georgia, and Victoria Marsom, the Head of Strategic Seat Operation for the Liberal Democrats. In the chair was Iain Gill, Head of the Liberal Democrats International Office. 

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The battle for a better Europe starts in Bournemouth

International Office_with textWith the EU-referendum likely to be less than a year away and the prospect of a Brexit a real and frightening possibility, the question of Britain’s role in Europe is more pressing than ever. The European Union was one of the most widely discussed issues at the conference, including the official launch of the Lib Dem Remain campaign.

In order to bring a more international perspective and explore the issues further, the Liberal Democrats International Office brought together a distinguished panel consisting of Sir Graham Watson, President of the ALDE Party and former Liberal Democrat MEP, Andrew Duff, Former Liberal Democrat MEP, Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat MEP and Lucy Thomas, Campaign Director for Business for a New Europe (BNE). The event was chaired by Baroness Julie Smith, Lib Dem Spokesperson on Defence in the House of Lords.

Opening the debate in front of a huge audience in a packed room, Iain Gill, Head of the Lib Dems International Office, emphasised the importance of EU membership to the UK, and the crucial role that liberal networks such as ALDE and Liberal International will play in campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU.

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Jim Hume questions Scottish Government on gender identity clinic waiting times

If you are a young transgender person still at school, struggling to come to terms with your gender identity, you need specialised help pretty quickly. You should not have to wait a minimum of 7 months to see a specialist. If you are older, you should not be told that the waiting list is a year.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume has highlighted this as another area in which the Scottish Government is failing to meet its 18 week target for referrals. This one will take a lot of thinking about as there are so few specialists in the gender identity field. They will have to come up with some long term plans to recruit and train more.

Kaleidoscot reports on Jim’s call for the Scottish Health Secretary to review provision for transgender people:

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Hannah Bettsworth’s speech to the Liberal Democrat Voice fringe meeting at Conference

20th Sep 2015 conference LDV fringeOne of the highlights of Conference for me was the Liberal Democrat Voice fringe meeting. We wanted to do something a bit more serious this year and, as foreign policy is a key interest of several of our team members, we decided to discuss how we forged a liberal foreign policy in these challenging times. What is liberal interventionism all about.

We are extremely grateful to our four speakers. Baroness Julie Smith stepped in at the very last minute so we especially appreciate her thoughtful contribution. We also heard from Lord William Wallace, from our Lords Foreign Affairs team, Nick Tyrone, now at British Influence, and Hannah Bettsworth, President of Liberal Youth Scotland, who specialises in international relations and has as special interest in gender mainstreaming, ensuring that the interests of women and girls are considered in every aspect of policy development.

Hannah’s speech was described by one member of the audience as one of the best on foreign policy he’d heard in a long time, so we thought it might be a good idea to reproduce it here. Hannah wants to credit Tim Oliver for his help and advice in pulling it together. Enjoy.

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A tale of two conferences in Bournemouth

It was a little weird leaving Bournemouth a week past on Wednesday to think that the Greens would be moving into the same space a couple of days later.

The Liberal Democrat Conference had a super atmosphere and was always very busy. I couldn’t believe the number of people who attended those 9am sessions to do such things as scrutinise the financial accounts and most times when I went into the hall for speeches or policy debates the only seats left were in the gods.

All the fringe meetings were packed to capacity as the Conference was the biggest we’d ever had in terms of members attending. It was great to meet so many new members, too and all I spoke to were having a great time.

Lib Dem member Ryan Lailvaux, attending his first Conference, said:

What an amazing conference it had been. An opportunity to meet great human beings and take back wonderful memories. Never have I been so inspired or so proud to be part of a movement. A liberal movement.

Compare and contrast with this article on Bright Green which talks about the Greens event:

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Why we need to make conference accessible

 

This year conference was the most attended, compared to previous years. I myself attended conference for a day or two. As a student I did find it somewhat grudging to pay nearly £500 for three days to attend. I did however not find it massively damaging to my wallet, this is not the case for many members of the party.

Due to the fact I could afford to go (and as a voting rep) it meant that I as an individual had more of a voice than those who couldn’t travel to Bournemouth. One member one vote passed which is great! But it still means that only those who can afford to take time off work, and the cost, will be able to make use of this. As a democratic party surely conference should be accessible. Why should members not be allowed to use their vote because they can’t afford sky high travel prices or a hotel in a tourist town or even to take time off work?

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VIDEO: The three minutes of Tim’s speech where he speaks with raw rage about refugees

People have been requesting this clip. Click below for the three minutes of Tim’s conference speech when he spoke about refugees. The video starts when the passage starts. The passage ends at 31’32 with a standing ovation and then the video continues with the rest of the speech if you want to see it.



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Conference: what worked, and some suggestions for improvement for the future

I believe in giving praise where praise is due, and so I would like to congratulate all the party staff, companies, businesses, volunteers and particularly the members of Federal Conference Committee (FCC) on their delivering the most enjoyable, welcoming and member friendly conference I have attended in my 27 years in this party.

I particularly liked and would like to see at all future conferences:

From the moment you arrived people explained what was happening and when, FCC and Federal Executive members were available front of house to hear what members wanted to tell them;

In the conference hall every technicality of the debate was clearly explained as it happened so nobody felt out of their depth;

In the fringe meetings every acronym and every bit of jargon was explained, it isn’t just the new members who are helped by that everyone benefits.

On the whole this conference gave us a lot to build on, and here are some of my suggestions for the future:

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Tim’s speech – Did you have to be in the hall to get it?

Yesterday I had to work so I couldn’t be at Bournemouth to watch Tim’s speech.

So, through the miracles of the smartphone, the BBC and the car auxiliary connection point, I listened to Tim’s speech on the way to work this morning.

I therefore had a chance to test how the speech came over via audio only on the M4 in Berkshire. Were all these rave reviews coming from people in the hall yesterday mere hype? The result of mass hysteria which would not catch on outside the immediacy of the hall?

Well, no.

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LDVideo: Tim Farron’s first leaders’ speech



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Farron rips up the rules on leaders’ speeches

It is no surprise that Tim Farron can make a decent speech. It’s what he does. Today, though, he took the tried and tested formula for leaders’ speeches. You know the Rules, where they slag off the other parties, they carefully talk about a few issues considered to be the key interests of the electorate, utter a few platitudes, tell a few jokes and end on a high note.

It’s all a bit contrived sometimes, way too polished,  and leaves the listener wanting a bit of genuine discourse and emotion.

Not today. Liberal Democrats are not known for their deference to their leader. It’s impossible to imagine any of us being as devoted to our leader as SNP activists are to Nicola Sturgeon.  We don’t always do their bidding and we usually answer back if they do something we don’t like. We are definitely not the sort of people who give people massive standing ovations in the middle of their speeches like we did this afternoon because he spoke so passionately, as we would, for the refugees whose plight is pretty much dismissed by the Government. He was angry and he showed it and he took us with him.

And what we’ve had from David Cameron is a careful calibration of what it will take to manage that story, the minimum effort for the maximum headlines.

And a policy which will not directly help a single one of the hundreds of thousands currently on the move across Europe.

It’s pitiful and embarrassing and makes me so angry.

Because I am proud to be British and I am proud of Britain’s values, so when Mr Cameron turns his back on the needy and turns his back on our neighbours.

I want the world to know, he does not speak for me, he does not speak for us, he does not speak for Britain.

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IN FULL: Tim Farron’s leader speech to conference today

When I was growing up my school didn’t have a sixth form. I guess that’s because most of us didn’t do A levels. So I went to a separate sixth form college – Runshaw in Leyland – and, in my first week, I joined the Liberal Party.

I also joined a band.

I’m assuming you may have seen the photos.

The only good thing I can say is that because the photos are pre-digital they are so low resolution that you can’t make out the eye-liner.

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“Wow, that was the best leader’s speech I’ve heard in just under 50 Lib Dem conferences”

So tweeted Dr Mark Pack, formerly of this parish:



Here’s some other reaction:


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Conference debates open thread: Wednesday 23rd September

Whether you are physically in Bournemouth 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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If you missed any bits of conference…how to catch up on YouTube

Lib Dem YouTube channelSssshhh! Don’t tell anyone. This is a secret and we need to keep it that way.

If you want to watch any bits of conference in “catch up mode”, head over to the party’s YouTube channel here.

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Sal Brinton’s Presidential address to Conference

Here is the text of Sal Brinton’s Presidential address to Conference. She talked about the threat to our democracy from the Tories’ massive spending on election campaigning and their plans for boundary changes. She talked about getting the party in the right shape for that fightback, to “give our country a democracy that works for all’. Here’s her speech in full:

 

The last couple of years have shown us that traditional assumptions about politics are useless.

Our world is being turned upside down, and,  unpredictable even to the pundits.

So much so that Lloyd George’s famous comment “The world is becoming like a lunatic asylum run by the lunatics”. That was over 110 years ago – perhaps some things never change!

We faced our hardest results in decades on 7 May, made much harder in recent weeks by watching  David Cameron and the Tories undoing many of the things that we achieved in Government.

A large number of people – not just Lib Dems – have said to me that they now understand what we did in Parliament as the Tories undo them, one by one.  The shock of losing so many colleagues has been compounded by the Tories making cuts to the most vulnerable in our society.  

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In Full: Willie Rennie’s speech to Conference: Our liberal, radical offer to create real freedom for people in Scotland

Scottish Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie gave his speech to Conference yesterday. Unlike Kirsty, he didn’t dwell on the coalition years. He did, however, offer a devastating critique of the SNP Government, citing its illiberal and centralising instincts.

He set out his agenda for the elections to the Scottish Parliament next May:

Our election campaign will be about liberal values.

At our heart we want every individual to achieve their potential.

So we will bring in childcare and the pupil premium for children who need it, wherever they live in Scotland. Giving opportunity to every child to get up and get on – no matter the circumstances of their birth.

We stand with the powerless against the strong. Mental health will be taken seriously. No more six month waits. Professionals on standby in every A&E.

We say power is safer when it is shared and will trust communities and individuals with the power to control their own lives – putting an end to the Holyrood-knows-best mentality.

So we will put democracy back into the police and return to traditional Scottish policing by consent.

We will empower public sector workers – teachers, doctors, nurses, police and more;

Stripping back top-down targets, controls, league tables and testing to give them the freedom to do their job.

And we will share power across the whole UK to give a stable constitutional future for Scotland;

A federal system is a positive, unifying future for Scotland and the rest of the UK.

This is our positive vision;

Here is the speech in full:

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VIDEO: Watch the “Scrapping Trident” debate in full

Click below to watch this excellent example of Liberal Democrat debate from yesterday:

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Conference Extras open thread: Tuesday 22 September: It’ll all end in Glee

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.

Today’s highlights

At 7:45 tonight, Norman Lamb is interviewed by Helen Duffett, the editor of the party’s all member Ad Lib magazine. She’ll be asking him about his plans for the future.

Norman will also be on a panel at lunchtime with our Stephen Tall at a Resolution Foundation fringe meeting discussing the need to rethink the Liberal Democrat approach to social justice.

At the same time Jo Swinson joins polling experts on a panel looking into why the polls got it so very wrong in the election.

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In Full: Kirsty Williams’ speech to Liberal Democrat Conference: A Britain without liberalism is a Britain that has lost its soul

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams gave her keynote speech to Conference yesterday and she did not mince her words.

She was candid about the failings of the coalition, saying that it looked like we’d never even tried to keep the pledge on tuition fees, and that our identity had been lost. 

She also said that one of the best ways to improve gender balance in parliamentarians was to help in Wales to make sure the Liberal Democrats did well as female candidates had been selected in many winnable seats.

She also set out her stall for the elections:

We believe in Freedom. Freedom of the individual, so everyone has the opportunity to be who they want to be and reach their full potential

We believe in Fairness – for diversity, against intolerance – the voice for the voiceless

And we believe in Community. Where we as individuals work together for the common good, where we empower communities to make decisions that work best for them

Most other parties can achieve some of those principles, but none combine them.

And what makes us unique is that we’re liberals

Feeling so strongly about something so positive gives us the power and confidence needed to take us forward:

The confidence to say immigration benefits our country

The confidence to say rehabilitation works better than prison

The confidence to say our voting systems, our institutions, our whole political system quite frankly stinks

The Human Rights Act, the green agenda, mental health – we fight for the underdog, we fight for what is right, leading on the issues that no-one else will.

Here is her speech in full:

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Conference debates open thread: Tuesday 22nd September

Whether you are physically in Bournemouth 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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++Conference passes “One member one vote” for party elections and conference votes

Hallejujah!

We have got there! We have at last completed our arduous journey over mountain, through thick jungle and through crocodile infested waters. We have at last arrived in the Elysian Fields!

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“Scrapping Trident” debate – what conference voted for today

Here follows the text of the motion passed by conference this afternoon at the end of the debate entitled “Scrapping Trident” on the agenda.

I have shown the original motion in normal text with the original line numbers, and lines through the text which was deleted by conference. In italics I have shown the text inserted by virtue of conference voting for Amendment 1:

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++Big conference decision: Amendment 1 to “Scrapping Trident” motion is carried after a card count

Conference voted in favour of amendment 1 to the “Scrapping Trident” motion this afternoon.

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VIDEO: Tim Farron’s very impressive debut Question & Answer session at conference in full

Please click below to see the whole of Tim Farron’s Question and Answer session at conference yesterday. Tim was in extremely impressive form for his first such session – which can be extremely demanding for a party leader. He was relaxed, confident, funny where necessary and very passionate.

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Conference Extras open thread: It’s Europe Day and Nick Clegg hits the fringe

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.

What is going on today?

After Vince’s foray into the fringe yesterday, it’s Nick Clegg’s turn today. Anyone who stays till the end of the One Member One Vote debate is unlikely to get a seat. He talks to Phil Collins from the Times in the Trouville Hotel at 6:15.  He makes a speech to Conference just before lunch and then goes straight to a fringe meeting on what the EU Referendum will mean for people in work in Bayview 2 in the BIC.

Given his longstanding commitment to EU, it is appropriate that today is heavily focused towards Europe and particularly to getting the Lib Dems’ campaign to stay in Europe under way. Tim Farron and Catherine Bearder will be speaking at a fringe meeting at which activists will be urged to throw themselves into recruiting pro EU supporters to help us – benefitting both the cause and the party. Our  Europe campaign website has all you need to know about how to get involved.  There seems to be an emphasis on holding house parties. Let’s just hope that the instructions they give us aren’t as prescriptive as this David Miliband document which was widely mocked. 

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Three ways to watch conference live

There are three ways to watch the Lib Dem conference live:

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Conference debates open thread: Monday 21st September

Whether you are physically in Bournemouth 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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VIDEO: Last night’s conference rally in full

Click below to see last night’s “standing room only” conference rally.

The sequence of speakers is:

  • Party President Sal Brinton (don’t worry – the image of Sal appears after a bit)
  • New member, Amy Stuart, from Bristol
  • London Mayoral candidate, Caroline Pidgeon
  • New member Zack Polanski
  • London International Gospel Choir
  • Tim Pickstone
  • Party leader Tim Farron
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New “Policy Pitch” opportunity hits conference

imageA new format hit conference yesterday. At the end of Saturday’s session, we had a “Policy Pitch” section. This is a new idea whereby members submit ideas to the conference commitee and three of those ideas are accepted for discussion at the conference.

The chosen members gave a short speech outlining their policy proposal. Then they sat down in a comfy chair on stage with three “assessors”, who were: Julie Smith, Jeremy Hargreaves and Willie Rennie. There was then a little interviewing of each proposer from the three assessors.

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