Tag Archives: conference

So that is why the fringe meetings were so jam packed

Every fringe meeting I went to or participated in at Conference was absolutely packed.

On Monday, I chaired a fringe for Shelter on the need for a massive investment in social housing.

The room was packed ten minutes before it was due to start to the extent that Shelter’s own Policy Director Chris Wood couldn’t get in.

Later that day, at another meeting, for the Smith Institute and the Affordable Housing Commission, there was, again, standing room only.

I had been a bit worried, to be honest, when we booked a huge room for our fringe meeting “What would you sacrifice to save the planet?” Paul Walter and I spent that one standing at the back because there were no seats left.

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PODCAST: Climate change conference fringe event

Lib Dem Voice hosted a fringe in Bournemouth at the party’s annual conference to discuss the impact of climate change (see photo above).

Our speakers were Baroness Cathy Bakewell, Lib Dem Lords Spokesperson for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Luke Murphy, Head of IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission; Lib Dem Deputy Leader Ed Davey MP; Mark Campanale of the Carbon Tracker Initiative; and Paul Sheeky from Extinction Rebellion; The panel was chaired by LDV’s own Dr Kirsten Johnson.

Use this link to download podcasts automatically in your podcast app and see our previous podcasts and media content here.

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2018 Brighton Conference – Reporting by Journalist

John Crace of the Guardian made a snide comment on Monday – in his piece about Gina Miller’s speech he said we took a “two-and-a-half-hour lunch break. Presumably, because there wasn’t much more business to discuss.”

I couldn’t disagree with him more – and that’s not just because I’m a member of the Federal Conference Committee. Of course, there was plenty to say on Brexit, where Tories and Labour are tearing themselves apart. However, we debated so many other important issues – how we enable people to thrive in a world of rapid technological change, how we address increasing inequality through wealth …

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Your Conference venues for next year are…..

I am delighted to announce the venues for Federal Conference in 2019.

For the Spring, we will be returning to the York Barbican.   It is a venue that enjoys consistently positive member feedback, located, as it is, in a magnificent city.  The conference hotel will be the Novotel York Centre Hotel.  The dates for conference will be 16th to 17th March 2019.

Autumn Conference 2019 will be held in the Bournemouth International Centre.  As with York, it is a venue well known to us and we are really pleased to be returning to what is a great seaside location.  The conference hotel will be the Marriott Highclff.  The dates for Autumn Conference will be 14th to 17th September 2019.

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The Ashdown Prize – how there can be more than one winner

Yesterday, the winner of the Ashdown Prize was announced. This competition was run by Your Liberal Britain with this aim:

In the face of such daunting forces, we must find radical new solutions to protect the power of the citizen – over their own lives, over the decisions that affect them, over the world around them.

This is the Liberalism of tomorrow – the Liberalism Britain so badly needs.

To that end, the Ashdown Prize for Radical Thought will be awarded to the boldest new policy idea that best empowers the citizen in the Britain of today and tomorrow.

Over the Bank Holiday …

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Why the Conference Access Fund is a good thing

I would like to tell you about the Conference Access Fund which Liberal Democrat members have provided. It helps members on low incomes or those who have a disability by providing financial assistance so that they can take part at conference. I used the fund to assist with the costs of having a support worker to enable me at conference. May I firstly say how helpful the stewards and Lib Dem HQ conference staff were at conference.

The Conference Access Fund is unique to the Liberal Democrats as the other four parties with the exception of the Green party (who give their members up to £90 for travel and expenses) do not have such a fund. The Labour Party mentions disability access and having a women’s day at the start of their conference but they do not provide financial help with the associated costs of attending. The Conservatives and UKIP do not mention either disability access or a fund.

Having discovered this, I then googled how many MPs are disabled within the current parliament. Only  2 MPs out of 650 have a disability. Also from the Bridge Review of the Civil Service and its fast stream programme, disabled people are significantly underrepresented. Where is the voice of disabled people in Parliament and in the policy making teams within the civil service?

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Last day to get early bird discount for Spring Conference

York bannerGiven the excellent results we’ve had in the past few months, most recently Sarah Olney’s fantastic victory in Richmond last week, the Spring Conference in York is going to be pretty good.

As well as that, the party will finally settle its position on nuclear weapons without fudging the issue as it has been doing for decades.

It is going to be well worth attending.

Registration is now open, and today is the last day you can claim the early bird discount. Registration (unless you are a first-timer, claimant or are …

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Bring a friend – they might even enjoy it

2015 policy pitch autumn conference by Paul Walter

Conference has a buzz and many local parties have suggested that it could be a good way of encouraging someone who is supportive to drink in the magic conference potion and become a full member – or even better.

But it hasn’t been easy to do this under the existing conference registration rules. Until now.

There is a new scheme designed to make it much simpler. You can find details here.

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Want to go to Spring conference and can’t afford it? Apply to Conference Access Fund by Friday

2015 policy pitch autumn conference by Paul WalterOur Spring Conference in York between 11-13 March is the first to be held under the new One Member One Vote rules. That means that every single party member could have a say as we make our policies.

I say COULD, because not every member can afford to go. Travel, accommodation and childcare costs put going to conference beyond the reach of many members.

This time, however, people can apply for a grant from the Conference Access Fund:

We have established a Conference Access Fund to improve accessibility for members attending conference. The fund consists of a contribution from the core Conference budget as well as donations from party members. Any contributions made by party members are ring-fenced for this purpose only and where applicable, any unused donations will be carried over to the next conference.

All applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If there is high demand, priority will be given to members who are attending Conference for the first time and members from underrepresented sections of society.

To do so for this Conference, you have to apply by this Friday. The online form is here.

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Open letter – please reinstate the creche

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Dear Tim

Yesterday you were campaigning in Faraday, my old ward in inner city Southwark. Way back in the 90s I was councillor for Faraday for eight years. Councillors’ expenses were meagre at that point and it took many thousands of pounds to win and keep that ward. My two ward colleagues and I dipped into our own pockets many a time. I can say without any shadow of a doubt that I could not have afforded to be a councillor had I had a family to provide for at that time.

When I was selected as a PPC and with a baby on the way I gave up work to combine my roles as candidate and parent. My husband reduced his hours to share childcare with me and be a mainstay of our 2005 General Election campaign. Our annual income at the time was £18,000 and we put £9,000 of our savings into paying for leaflets etc. In no way is this a personal whinge. My family’s financial sacrifice is not unusual. I knew another PPC who had remortgaged his house to pay for his campaigning.

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Let’s all make conference more financially diverse.

Tackling inequality is one of my greatest passions, it quite literally gets me out of bed in the morning.

It’s also quite well established now that the more representative decisions making bodies are, the more all of us benefit, no matter if we belong to an underrepresented group or not. The past decade has been a historical time in politics for minorities and activist groups have many proud achievements to celebrate in the name of diversity (yet of course, we still have so very far to go), but there’s one spectrum of diversity that’s not doing so well lately, and we don’t really appear to be tackling it head on, and that’s financial diversity.

Politics favours the rich. Not just because we aren’t doing enough to create a more fair society, but because Parliament is the most unrepresentative forum you could imagine, and by design: unless you’ve got a spare £34k knocking about, as Isabel Hardman estimated in the Spectator last year, you’d better be prepared to work 50 hours a week and volunteer maybe 20 on top of that if you want a chance of ever standing as a parliamentary candidate.

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Willie Rennie MSP writes… Trident: We must consider effect of disarmament on our international relationships

Our party has always had a sceptical view of nuclear weapons. Whether we personally adhere to a multi-lateral or unilateral route to disarm, few members feel comfortable with the concept or reality of such a powerful weapons system.

There are issues of geo-diplomacy and security and not just party positioning at stake. Although not in power now, we need to consider our policy as if we were in government not just a party in opposition hunting for differentiation.

The United Kingdom is a stable partner amongst the nuclear defended nations of the world. The importance of stable partners should not be understated especially when the Non Proliferation talks take place every five years. Britain has been an important cog in the reduction of nuclear capability across the globe through these talks.

We need to consider the effects on geo-diplomacy if we unilaterally disarm. It is a delicate balance and we should be extremely careful when seeking to change that balance.

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Andrew Wiseman writes…Introducing the Policy Pitch

We are trying a new session at this year’s conference. The idea behind the session is to encourage policy discussion in a different way to a formal motion or FPC policy paper.

Members will put forward ideas in the form of a ‘policy pitch’. These ideas should not be current party policy, they should be new ideas or ideas that develop existing party policy in an innovative way. Rather than having to set out a more formal motion where there is a debate and a yes/no vote the member will submit their idea in a less formal pitch of up to 400 words. Those chosen by FCC will be given a two minute ‘pitch’ to conference where they will get the chance to present their idea to a panel. The panel will discuss the idea with the proposer before giving their views.

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The Independent View: Looking at ways to help student entrepreneurs

The slogan ‘Stronger Economy, Fairer Society’ is only as strong as the policies that support it.

We, at the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE), are pleased that the Liberal Democrats, in partnership with the Conservatives, have introduced a series of measures to put meat on the bones of this catchphrase.

Vince Cable’s Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) department has been busy beavering away on initiatives that help small businesses, including young entrepreneur start-ups. Young people like Arnold du Toit, who is worth £8 million in his mid-twenties after inventing a motorised golf trolley, and Jamal Edwards, whose YouTube videos progressed to a TV channel, show the kind of innovation Britain needs more of.

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Nick Clegg wins out on EU referendum – but what will the party think?

EU Flag at the European Parliament at Strasbourg. Photo credit: Some rights reserved by European ParliamentToday’s Guardian reports that Nick Clegg has won the backing of MPs over whether to support a change in the party’s policy on an EU referendum:

The deputy prime minister, who has faced direct calls from ministers for a change of stance on the EU, won the agreement of the Lib Dem parliamentary party to stand by the current policy. This is to hold a referendum only if UK sovereignty is passed to the EU. The Tories

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Five reasons why Liberal Democrats leave York in good spirits.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 08.06.08Liberal Democrats left York with spirits as bright as the sunshine which brought 17 degree warmth to the historic city.  Seriously. I was quite surprised about how genuinely upbeat people were. It’s not that they’d forgotten that we’re defending 12 European Parliament seats in 74 short days’ time. By the way, if you think that’s along time away, remember that 74 days ago was Boxing Day.  Everyone knows the scale of what we have to achieve by then and nobody is taking anything for granted.

Even the more, how shall I put this, hardened Awkward Squad (not an insult, definitely a badge that many of them would wear with pride) were saying things that could only be described as positive. Actual positive, not just lacking in complaints.

Why the good humour, then?

People love fighting a European Election about Europe

Liberal Democrats are by their nature internationalist. If it involves working together and building global alliances to make the whole world better, we’re happy. And that, to be honest, is what the European Union is all about. It’s about making sure that our young men don’t have to meet up somewhere on the continent and kill each other every few decades. If you look at the last couple of thousand years, that’s pretty huge. Yes, there are lots of other benefits that have a real practical relevance to people’s lives, but peace and stability across 350 million is the Big One.

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So, what’s been going on at Conference?

It’s not always easy to blog from Conference. Wifi can be temperamental and distractions are plentiful. However, your team will have lots to tell you over the next few days.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what’s been going on so far:

The Rally:

Vince Cable got really personal. He said that he’d had a fair bit of pressure put on him to slash adult education. He refused to do it, because of his own family experience.

His mother had a long spell in hospital following a nervous breakdown. He talked about how adult education had given her a second opportunity to build a career.

That …

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Call for amendments!

key_conference_registerIs there a motion on the LibDem Conference Agenda you are just dying to amend? Something that’s too Orange Book, too Soggy Democrat or just plain too Lembit for you to support?

I’d like to know about it!

On Sunday 2nd March, two days before the deadline for amendments, Calderdale Liberal Democrats Policy Working Group will meet – with our voting reps and ordinary members in attendance to debate the motions and any proposed amendments.

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What could you do with £32?

In these straitened times, we are sure that you have better things to do with £32 than pay it needlessly to the party’s Conference registration Department. You could of course still give it to the party, but that’s by the by.

It could also pay for a meal out, or a trip to the sales, or 3 or 4 books, 4 one day travelcards in London and a coffee when you get there. Or a round of drinks in the Conference bar…

Today is the last day when members can register for Liberal Democrat Spring Conference at the lower rate. Don’t miss …

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Opinion: Conference – elitist drinking club or democratic decision-making?

BeerI find myself reflecting on Chief Whip Alistair Charmichael’s quip suggesting that the real business of Conference is done, carousing late into the night, in the bars and hotels of Glasgow.

In the mean time I have been standing on the town hall steps, speaking with constituents and pondering how such an aspiring egalitarian Party concentrates power and decision making into two exclusive weeks each year that leave the majority of the Party disempowered and without any voice.  During the other 50 weeks of the year we have a plethora of committees, sub-committees, special interest groups, local, federal and membership involvement to the nth degree.  All this ends as soon as soon as Conference begins.

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Sarah Ludford MEP writes…Conference must debate Miranda detention

I was not initially planning to get particularly involved on the David Miranda Schedule 7 issue except as a concerned, nay horrified, spectator. After all, I’m an MEP not an MP nor (at present) able to be active as a peer, and I have plenty on my plate in Brussels.

But from early Monday morning, as I read the admirably vigorous response from the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation David Anderson QC – and the immediate if deeply hypocritical reaction from Yvette Cooper – I did start to wonder who from the party was going to be vocal. So I tweeted …

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Conference preview: The training programme

Some people go to Liberal Democrat Conference and never get anywhere near the debating hall, because the fringe, exhibition and training programme provide such a cornucopia of interesting and enriching entertainment. Others mix and match between debates and fringes.

This year’s training programme, which you can view in full here,  is intense. There are three and a half full days of sessions on a huge variety of subjects. During the day, there can be as many as nine sessions going on at once. The Party’s training guide has suggestions for courses to attend if you’re a local or parliamentary candidate, …

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Liberal Democrat Federal Conference agenda available

Autumn 2012 conference - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsAgenda papers for the federal conference in Glasgow have been published. Within the theme of ‘a stronger economy in a fairer society, allowing everyone to get on in life’ there are policy motions on work life balance, green growth, learning and skills, fairer taxes, strengthening the economy, housing benefit, tackling sexual and domestic violence, racial equality, and more.

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Liberal Democrat Spring Conference to be held in York in 2014

From The Press:

YORK is to host the Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference next year.

The three-day conference, to be held at York Barbican Centre in March, is expected to attract more than 1,000 delegates.

The Novotel Hotel will also be the party conference headquarters for the duration of the event.

Nick Clegg is quoted as saying:

I’m delighted that the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference will be held in York for the first time next year.

We’re helping to create new jobs all around the country and York is not only a beautiful city, but it’s also a great place to do business. I’m sure all

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Race equality – a new Liberal Democrat approach: SLF/EMLD Conference takes place soon

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, is the keynote speaker at one of the most important race equality events this party has held in recent years. Organised jointly by the Social Liberal Forum and Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats, it takes place from noon on Saturday 1st June at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre, 25 New Inn Yard London EC2A 3EA. The conference will be of immense help to all those who realise that, particularly in London, the ethnic minority vote will be key to whether we sink or swim in the next elections.

Race equality is …

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New Zealand Parliament rejoices at passing of same sex marriage bill

Something made me cry today, and it involved a bunch of politicians in what is normally a solemn ritual.

It took place in the New Zealand Parliament when MPs voted in favour of same sex marriage. In the House of Commons, you might, if you’re lucky, get some order papers waved. Having said that, I hear tales of The Land and Lloyd George knew my father being sung in the Lords voting lobby by certain of our peers late one night.

Anyway, look at this place – real warm  celebrations. Hugs, kisses, flowers and the spontaneous rendition of a Maori …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

A sneak peek at a Scottish Conference agenda full of controversy…

The Agenda for this year’s Scottish Conference will be sent to members tomorrow but I’ve had a bit of a sneak peek. I’d better not give you the full list of timings and the like because Scottish Conference Convener Sheila Thomson would spank me if I did, but I can tell you that there is plenty of scope for controversy and debate.

There are more policy debates than for some considerable time – 9 in total with 6 coming from local parties or members. Scottish Conference will get the chance to have its say on the controversial secret courts legislation. Should …

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