Tag Archives: autumn conference 2019

Willie Rennie’s speech to Federal Conference: Lib Dems stand for the majority of Scots

Willie Rennie made a keynote speech to Liberal Democrat Conference on Tuesday. It was the best speech I have ever heard him make. A very clear statement of why the Lib Dems stand up for the majority of Scotland’s people – along with some literary advice for David Cameron. Jenni Lang’s introduction is worth watching too for a wee secret.

It’s becoming a tradition to spill some beans about Willie when introducing him for a speech. Borders candidate Jenny Marr told Scottish Conference how he’d turned up to a Wintry canvassing session in Aberdeenshire wearing pyjamas underneath his clothes to keep warm.

Enjoy.

The text is below:

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The speeches that got away

If you put time and energy into writing a Conference speech, went through the agonies of sitting through the debate and didn’t get called, don’t let your effort go to waste. Send it to us at [email protected] and we will put it up here.

Also, let us know which speeches made at Conference were your favourites and we’ll clip them on here.

 

 

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In full: Chuka Umunna’s speech to Conference

The Liberal Democrats have taken Chuka Umunna pretty much to our hearts since he joined in June. He seems really happy and comfortable in his new surroundings

Today he gave a keynote speech to Conference.

Watch here:

Here is the text in full.

Conference, it is an honour and a pleasure to be addressing you as a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament and as your Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Now, I’ve been to a few parties and I hope I don’t sound immodest when I say my experience of joining this party underlines that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made since going into politics.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making me feel so welcome. I could not be more at home in the wonderful Liberal Democrat family.

And the decision to join was not made out of crude self interest…If self interest or climbing the greasy poll is your goal, I would not recommend following my example.

The truth is, all the incredibly difficult decisions I have made on the journey I’ve been on this year were routed in my values and principles. I joined this party out of conviction.

As you know, I am a Remainer and proud of it – we have spent far too long apologising for being pro-European in this country. Because you cannot be pro-Britain and put our national interest first without seeking to put Britain at the heart of Europe.

But, even more importantly, I am a social democrat with liberal values. You see, to be a Remainer is not only to be an advocate of our continued membership of the European Union; it is to hold a set of liberal, internationalist values of which we Liberal Democrats are the champions and defenders in Britain.

In an attempt to smear those of us who have an internationalist outlook, Theresa May said “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”. What utter garbage. We are citizens of the world and – just you watch – at the next election you will see Liberal Democrats taking seats from the Tories in every part of the country as so many people are flocking to us, the strongest and biggest Remain party.

Be in no doubt: this is the battle of our time and it goes far beyond Britain’s borders.

What it is to be a liberal

Our party exists to build and defend a fair, free and open society, a society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity……That was taken straight from our constitution – as you can see, I’ve done my homework.

In essence, the society we seek to build is one where if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be free to lead a happy, prosperous and secure life free of domination of either the state or the market. And we want to ensure future generations can do the same by preserving our planet for the long term continuity of life in all its forms.

I grew up in world in which we took these values for granted.

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Jane Dodds’ speech to Liberal Democrat Conference

Cynhadledd, diolch yn fawr.

Before I get going today, I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who came to Brecon and Radnorshire to help during my campaign. Whether you came during the recall petition or the by-election or even both – thank you. Without all of you, and the wider party and beyond, I would not be standing here today as the MP for Brecon & Radnorshire.

I want to particularly thank the local party, whose volunteers provided accommodation for campaigners for 2202 nights. Thankfully, our Welsh tradition of ironing bed sheets did not last long in to the campaign.

This victory was a team effort, and one which signalled to both Wales and the UK, that the Liberal Democrats can win.

Winning council seats.

Winning our largest ever group of MEPs.

Winning Parliamentary seats across the country.

Conference, there has never been a better time to be a Liberal Democrat.

I also want to express my thanks to Plaid Cymru and the Green party, who took the difficult decision to stand aside in Brecon & Radnorshire – in order to help further the fight against Brexit.

They put the national interest first, and because of this cooperation, this alliance of parties, we were able to win.

We are believers in pragmatic, collaborative politics. I want to see us work with people in other parties – and none – to achieve the aims we have in common.

Sometimes this may mean we have to be prepared to make sacrifices, but when it comes to issues like Brexit, the risk is too high to not work together.

Now, although I am the newest elected Member of Parliament, I am not the newest Liberal Democrat MP.

One week after I was elected, we were joined by Sarah Wollaston. The day I took my seat in Parliament Phillip Lee came to sit alongside me, and shortly after that both Luciana Berger and Angela Smith joined too.

And they’re not the only ones joining. Since my election thousands people have joined our party too, taking us to our highest ever membership. And day by day, we keep growing.

To everyone who’s joined the party in recent months, croeso! And to those who are still on the fence about joining, what is stopping you?

If you’re fed up of the endless back and forth, the empty rhetoric and the hollow promises of the other parties… then why not come make your home in the Liberal Democrats, as so many others are doing?

As Jo Swinson said, “if you’re fed up of shouting at the TV, then get up and do something about it”.

Conference I am proud to be a Liberal Democrat because we are the only party offering a bold and optimistic vision for the future of our country.

In Wales Kirsty Williams is putting this vision into action.

As Education Minister she is cutting class sizes, protecting our rural schools and, overhauling our curriculum to make it fit for the 21st century, including making sure relationship education is LGBT inclusive.

This is what the Liberal Democrats are championing, a society which gives everyone the opportunities to make the most of their talents and potential, and which ensures everyone is included and supported throughout their life.

We are also the only party fighting to keep all of our nations part of the United Kingdom, and the whole UK part of Europe.

Rwy’n sefyll yma, Gynhadledd, fel Cymraes balch, a rhywun sy’n credu’n gryf mewn datganoli pŵer i’r bobl.

I stand before you today as a proud Welsh woman and a staunch believer in devolution. I want to see devolution not just to the nations and regions, but to local government as well – to bring power as close to the people as possible.

I am also proud to be British AND European. All of these identities are what makes me who I am and are rooted in my belief that there are things we do better together – in the same way as there are things we do better as part of the European Union or as part of the United Nations.

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Wera Hobhouse’s speech to Conference

Yesterday, climate change spokesperson Wera Hobhouse delivered this keynote speech to Conference. Here it is in full.

Good morning everybody

It is wonderful to see you all here at the start of a great conference.
We are in a very good place.
Look at what we have achieved since our last conference only 6 months ago.

Number of councillors UP
Number of MEPs UP
Number of MPs UP
Membership UP
Polling UP.

Is there anything that can stop us now?

Here is an easy question: Who in this Hall is a Liberal Democrat?

And who in this hall believes the Climate Crisis is the biggest challenge of the future and we have a moral duty to solve it?

Think about it.
This is who we are.
Being a Liberal Democrat and being an environmentalist go hand in hand.
Our values for a free open tolerant and globally fair society place us right in the centre of the fight against global climate chaos.

Let me remind you of the preamble of our constitution.
‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair free and open society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty equality and community and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty ignorance or conformity.’

We fundamentally believe that all people are equal and have an equal right to freedom and prosperity.

That freedom and prosperity for all has to be fought for and safeguarded because it is easily threatened.

Nobody can be free who lives in poverty, nobody is free when displaced or threatened by war.
The Climate Crisis will affect us all. If we allow it to get worse it will create huge global inequalities.

Some parts of our planet will be much worse hit than others, creating extreme poverty and hardship, displacement and possibly war.

We Liberal Democrats make no distinction between people on the basis of race gender or religion.
It matters deeply to us how other people are doing not just in this country but anywhere in the world.

That is what makes us an internationalist party. People in China or Argentina or Nigeria or Iran are our neighbours.

That is why we call out against human rights abuses wherever we witness them.

And that is why we feel particularly called upon to avert a climate catastrophe.

This is our call!

This is who we are!

This is why each and every one of us should be proud to be a Liberal Democrat!

The rise of populist and nationalist leaders across the world directly threatens our democratic values.

It threatens the institutions that have guaranteed our rules based international order.

But additionally what is staring us in the face now is that these populist nationalist leaders also threaten our efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

Whether it is Trump or Bolsanaro or Putin or any other dictator across the world, they all actively encourage activities that create environmental chaos, division, social instability and economic disruption.

Because these are the conditions on which they thrive.

Populist leaders create and deliberately exaggerate the fear of foreigners.
They use this fear for their own personal and self-centred ambition.
Fear is a powerful emotion that blocks out any rational argument.

We cannot ignore the huge dangers to international peace and cooperation that these authoritarian leaders pose.
Climate breakdown will play into their hands.
The potentially huge displacement of people give the perfect excuse for populist leaders to shut down the borders and pull up the draw bridge.
The cry of each and every one of these leaders is ‘my country first’.
They do not care about anyone else.

Look at the devastating destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
It would be naïve to think Bolsanaro turns a blind eye for mere short term financial gain, and has no regard for the long- term global implications of such destruction.
More important to realise is that burning down the rainforests and exacerbating the climate crisis is consistent with his disruptive political agenda.
It matters to stand up against these populists and nationalists.
Not just because of the threat to our open society but because of the threat to our planet.

We must fight this.
That is why we are in politics.
That is why we are Liberal Democrats.

Our Liberal Democrat resurgence in the local and European elections give me great hope.
There are millions of people who will not lie down in the face of populism and nationalism.
We must stand with them, and lead them.

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Revealed: That Lib Dem Disco set list

We are sparkling with excitement here at LDV Towers. Lib Dem Disco is about to get underway in the Marriott.

It means that Mikey Smith from the Mirror has to stay up late and watch Lib Dems do strange things on the dance floor but I’m sure he enjoys it really.

Tonight, Jane Dodds, Christine Jardine, April Preston and James Spiby are the guest DJs. Will CJ be able to equal Jo Swinson’s triumph and win two years in a row?

I have to say that there are some mighty fine tunes on the set list.

And I have another reveal at the end…..

Jane Dodds

Katrina & the Waves – Walking on Sunshine

Beyoncé – In Da Club

Duffy – Mercy

Christine Jardine

Spice Girls – Wannabe

Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out For A Hero

Proclaimers – 500 Miles

April Preston

Deee Lite – Groove Is In The Heart

Pulp – Common People

Madonna – Like a Preyer

James Spiby

Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk

Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters

Ricky Martin – Livin La Vida Loca

And that reveal..

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Sal Brinton’s speech to Conference

This is Sal Brinton’s last speech to Conference as Party President. It contains joy, celebration, tributes, challenges and report.

And here is the text in full.

Well, hello Conference and hasn’t everything changed since we last met in March!

Wow! Just wow! 

We asked you to all go on the Stop Brexit march on 20 March to make it clear we are the strongest Remain party. 

You did that. 

It was my privilege to help lead thousands and thousands of Liberal Democrats along with Vince Cable at that march that had over a million people on the streets of London. 

We asked you to go out and give us the best results ever in the local elections. 

You did that. 

We made over 700 gains, and now control 18 councils. We’re still making gains in by elections too.

We  then said please go out and campaign for our best ever European Elections results, in a snap election, with very little time. 

You did that. 16 MEPs.

I’ll say it again. 

Wow! Just wow! 

And then we said (after all of that!), please go and help Jane Dodds and our Welsh colleagues in Brecon and Radnorshire. 

So you did that too! 

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Jo Swinson arrives at Conference

It was a truly impressive site as Jo Swinson led a group including newly elected MEPs, key seat candidates and other key party figures such as Isabelle Parasram, our Vice President BAME down the hill in the sunshine towards the Conference Centre.

Shaffaq Mohammed, Yorkshire and the Humber MEP and HazelGrove PPC Lisa Smart were on either side of her in a group that included our own Kirsten Johnson as PPC for North Devon and Wendy Chamberlain, who is challenging for the most marginal seat in the country.

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Back to Conference

Tomorrow, Liberal Democrats will be gathering at Bournemouth for the Autumn Conference. This is the main conference, traditionally held during the parliamentary recess, as opposed to the shorter Spring Conference and the two conferences held per year in each Region/Nation.

If you watch the conference on BBC Parliament you will see the proceedings in the main hall – the debates, the set piece speeches and perhaps the procedural bits.  Sometimes news or politics programmes will carry excerpts from the rally or fringe meetings.

But this doesn’t give the members’ full experience of conference, which also includes the exhibition, training sessions (held during the main conference hours), fringe meetings (held outside main conference hours), lots of other meetings formal and informal and chance encounters. These meetings and encounters can happen just because so many Liberal Democrats are together in one place. 

Some of this requires further explanation. The stands in the exhibition may be from national party bodies, AOs and SAOs, outside organisations who see themselves as being likely to share interests with Liberal Democrat members, suppliers, the town hosting the next conference and sometimes organisations who (ahem) feel that their image needs improving within the Liberal Democratss. (AOs and SAOs are official Liberal Democrat bodies who cater for particular cohorts of members, including those from professions, and those who wish to emphasise some aspect of policy.)  People who have stands in the exhibition are also those who are likely to hold fringe meetings, or even sponsor them. Fringe meetings are at breakfast time, lunch time and until quite late into the evening (in 3 slots).

All this results in Choice: what am I interested in? What would my local party want me to go to? What debates are so vital that I should attend and vote? What speeches (including the Rally) would inspire me? What about the exhibition? I need to go around it and help on a stand. And more practical issues: how and when will I eat? Which fringe meetings that I would love to go to will be so oversubscribed that I would have to stand, or not get in at all? Perhaps I would enjoy the Quiz or the Glee Club, but would they make me too tired in the morning?

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To revoke, or not to revoke? That is the question

I was a little shocked on Tuesday morning to find that one of the biggest policy shifts in Lib Dem history seems likely to be pushed through Conference with less than 6 days’ notice. The problem I have with the new policy of “Revoke if we win a majority”, is that it puts at risk some core beliefs of our Party and validates the accusations of being the “Lib Undems” which we have been successfully resisting for the last three years. I see the strong attraction of Revoke; no messy referendum, no arguing over the question on the ballot paper, no further delay to resolving Brexit which everyone is heartily sick of. And also of course clarity. Here I want to propose a solution which keeps the essence of the policy, preserves our core beliefs, and provides real opportunities to take the political high ground at the same time.

I have spent the last three years arguing with Leavers and soft Remainers that our People’s Vote policy is perfectly democratic. As Tim Farron said, how can voting be undemocratic? I don’t argue that the 2016 referendum was invalid. I argue that it is out of date, new people are on the register and others have changed their minds, and therefore we need to check if “The People” still think the same once the destination is clear. More important, I have spent the last 40 years arguing with people about our clearly undemocratic First Past the Post voting system. Thatcher did NOT have a mandate to enact manifesto policy in 1979, nor did Blair in 1997, and nor did Cameron in 2015 (although actually the policy to hold an EU referendum is the one thing where I do accept a mandate since Tory plus UKIP votes exceeded 50%). We live in an elective dictatorship. Changing that is surely Liberal Democrat core belief.

The Revoke policy states: “Conference calls for Liberal Democrats to campaign to Stop Brexit in a General Election, with the election of a Liberal Democrat majority government to be recognised as an unequivocal mandate to revoke Article 50 and for the UK to stay in the EU”. We could easily get a majority government with 37% of the vote as Cameron did in 2015. So we are saying that regardless of our beliefs, we will take our own chance to use elective dictatorship to push through a policy that may well be opposed by the majority of voters.

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Countdown to Conference: Amendments selected for debate

With Autumn Conference just days away, the Federal Conference Committee met on Saturday for the selection of amendments, Emergency and Europ motions. You can see the full text of what we selected here:

As readers might be aware that the Vice Chair of Federal Conference Committee, Zoe O’Connell, and members of the committee, Jennie Rigg and Sarah Brown have sadly resigned from the Party, and thereby the FCC. In the first instance the FCC wants to express its thanks and appreciation for their service to the Committee and to the party. 

An election on the Committee was held for the vacant Vice Chair role, and Cara Jenkinson and Jon Ball have been duly elected as Co-Vice Chairs. Therefore, Cara Jenkinson and Jon Ball join myself as FCC Vice Chairs, with Geoff Payne as Chair. 

Please note that the submission for amendments to the Europe motion is by Thursday, 12 September at 13:00. You can submit your amendments here:

The Federal Conference Committee received 66 proposed amendments, 13 emergency motions, 5 topic debate requests, and 6 Europe motions, all of which were reviewed at the meeting. Unfortunately, as always, time is usually the biggest factor when selecting amendments and we are simply unable to accept all amendments that we receive. 

The list of all amendments, emergency motions, topical motions and Europe motions received is below, and to those less familiar to the terminology; there are two things that can happen to an amendment: selected for debate – this means that the amendment will be debated and voted on, and drafting amendment. These amendments have been accepted by the proposers of the motion and therefore are included in the motion and do not require a vote. 

With regards to the emergency motions; these will be balloted at Conference. As you can see from the list below, we received a large number of emergency motions and some of which are on the same topic. 

The summaries of the amendments below, are not those provided by the submitters, so they only give an overview of what the amendment addresses. 

Finally, don’t forget that you can now submit Speaker’s Cards electronically here. 

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What do do on the Friday night before Conference

Are you going to Lib Dem conference? Officially conference starts on Saturday 14th September, but if you look at the conference program you will also notice it starts at 9am on that day. For most people who want to be there at the start this means it makes sense to arrive on the Friday before.

If that is your plan and you are wondering what to do for Friday evening, then you may recall that last year there were 2 “unofficial” Friday evening events; Lib Dem Pint and the Social Liberal Forum (SLF) pre-Conference dinner.

If Lib Dem Pint is happening this year then I would happily promote it in this article, but my internet searches have not shown that it is. It was a very popular event last year and I would suggest keep a look out for it next year. UPDATE: There is a Lib Dem Pint and you can find out more here.

But there is an alternative…

the Social Liberal Forum Pre-Conference Dinner

The SLF ARE organising their pre-Conference dinner and our guest speaker will be Siobhan Benita, the Lib Dem candidate for the Mayor of London next year. It is worth bearing in mind that in the recent EU elections the Lib Dems “won” London with more votes than anyone else, so Siobhan stands a good chance of becoming the Lib Dem mayor of London next year.

If this is your first Lib Dem conference, then the SLF dinner is a great opportunity to get to meet other Liberal Democrats informally before conference has even started.

Last year the event was a complete sell out and people were allowed to turn up on the evening without pre-booking.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Martin 21st Oct - 4:54pm
    Assuming the 6 or 7% figure is correct, which is a big assumption and probably not to be taken too seriously, it neither means £2000...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 21st Oct - 4:14pm
    Sounds like an interesting and thought provoking collection of essays. However the journey of the party over recent years gives me real concerns that the...
  • User AvatarDavid Garlick 21st Oct - 3:50pm
    I suspect that the govt did not press for a vote on Saturday as they were confident that they did not have the numbers to...
  • User AvatarDavid Garlick 21st Oct - 3:44pm
    I suspect that the Vote was not asked for yesterday as they were confident that they did not have the numbers to pass it. Today...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 21st Oct - 3:31pm
    In reply to George and William and as a member of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats myself, I think it is worth reading this press release from...
  • User AvatarMartin 21st Oct - 3:01pm
    For the record Phillip Lee has said this:I wish to make it clear that I share the desire of those who want society to embrace,...