Tag Archives: federal conference

Are we becoming like North Korea?

I have just sat through almost every debate in the auditorium of Spring Conference and have been struck by the lack of real debate. This is primarily because nothing remotely controversial is put to the conference. We get votes in favour of between 80 and 99% in favour of policy motions and even in favour of amendments.

The only time a vote was even remotely close was on whether or not to HEAR a request for a reference back!

The most enthusiastic anyone got to debate issues was on how to reform the party structure.

I have been a party member since 1964 and have attended many assemblies (Liberal Party) and conferences (Liberal Democrats). I don’t think I look back with rose tinted spectacles, but I have a clear recollection of closely argued debates where a few votes either way determined the outcome. The late Edward Dunford once said that you could see the audience swaying one way and then the other as a debate progressed.

Posted in News | 26 Comments

Announcement about 2022 Conferences

The Federal Conference Committee recently met to discuss the Conference format for 2022.

We considered a number of options for next year’s conferences and took the difficult decision to hold Spring Conference as an online conference and only returning to an in-person event for Autumn Conference. The dates of Spring Conference will be 11-13 March 2022 and we will announce the dates and venue for Autumn Conference in due course.

The Committee discussed several options with regards to the format of Spring Conference and, whilst there was a strong desire within the Committee to return to in person meetings and events as soon as possible, our challenge was that the COVID situation remains uncertain and therefore still causes significant concern. While we are seeing more in person events happening, we have also seen the Welsh Labour conference in November cancelled due to COVID concerns.

If we had taken the decision to hold an in person Spring Conference, this would have taken place in York – a venue which we usually operate at full capacity. Enforcing social distancing and COVID measures would therefore have been extremely difficult with the potential number of attendees. Furthermore, the danger that a large number of people may not have felt safe attending a crowded in person event meant there was a significant risk of a drop in the number of members attending Conference.

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Conference to confirm our internationalism

For years now committed internationalists in the party have complained that our reputation for internationalism is fading and that parish pump politics has taken over. Worries are being expressed that we could lose that internationalist core vote that has identified with us for decades. Despite serial attempts at proposing emergency motions on international crises to conference, these have repeatedly fallen way behind domestic issues in the ballot and not received a debate. Similarly droves of new members who joined us as pro-Europeans to fight Brexit have not seen their key issue high enough up the agenda. The good news is that change is on the way.

At Spring Conference our Europe motion which restated our long-term aim of getting back to the centre of Europe kicked off a new international focus. Working with our European allies is fundamental to the UK reclaiming a meaningful international presence. Autumn Conference this year will see several international themes on the agenda, as well as starting a series of detailed motions to give us a road map to the closest possible relationship with the EU, and eventual membership.

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged and | 36 Comments

The only way is Hybrid!

A few years ago I stood (unsuccessfully!) for election to the FCC on the basis that we needed to look at allowing people to take part in Conference remotely. I was given all sorts of reasons why it would not work – but it only took a few minutes on Friday afternoon to be abundantly clear that this was very much an idea whose time had come.

As the Conference went on that feeling only strengthened -fantastic speeches from first time speakers (my impression was more than usual), a vibrant chat box, far more people watching the debate and voting …

Posted in Op-eds | 23 Comments

20 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 1)

So many press re;leases today…

  • Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader
  • Govt must drop ‘dog ate my homework’ approach to Prevent review
  • PM backs Lib Dem calls for COVID hero honours round
  • Govt has no answers for Brexit border issues for Northern Ireland

Lib Dems announce digital conference and fresh timetable to elect next leader

The Liberal Democrats have announced a fresh leadership election timetable and plans to hold an online Autumn Conference – the first for any major political party – in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At a meeting of the party’s Federal Board last night, the party agreed to holding their leadership election from June through to August. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the contest will make use of online hustings and online voting.

President of the Liberal Democrats Mark Pack, who chairs the Federal Board, also confirmed the Liberal Democrats decision to hold a digital conference in the Autumn follows “careful consideration of the latest expert advice.”

Liberal Democrat Party President Mark Pack said:

Following careful consideration of the latest public health advice concerning the coronavirus pandemic, the Liberal Democrats are planning to run the biggest online conference in British politics.

Conference plays a key role in our democratic party as well as being an important training and information exchange event. I am therefore pleased we will host an online alternative, the first for any major political party.

Posted in News and Press releases | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 4 Comments

Conference!

Over a period of more than 30 years I have attended a lot of conferences including those of the Anti Apartheid Movement, Communication Workers Union, Trade Union Congress, Labour Party and most recently the Liberal Democrats. In my time as a CWU activist I sat for a term on its conference arrangements committee. My first Lib Dem conference was in 2012 and I really enjoyed the experience. I was particularly struck by the democratic nature of it. One delegate, one vote, no executive trying to sway us and no top table packed with party big wigs.

However, as we approach another …

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Asking Jo to help restore the Conference crèche

I was lucky enough to get called during the Leader’s Q & A at Party Conference. I reminded Jo that we had had a Conference creche for most of the last four decades and that the Young Liberals had been prime movers in the original campaign for this. During that time, it has helped many parents and, in particular, young women to attend Conference and gain the benefits of learning, networking, helping make policy etc. But now there is no creche. Would she help to get it reinstated?

Jo looked hard at the FCC Chair, Geoff Payne, who promptly said …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Financial support to attend Conference

Have you ever wanted to attend our federal party conferences but been discouraged because of financial or access issues?

The Federal Conference Committee (of which I am a member) wants to enable everyone to attend, so some years ago we set up an Access Fund to provide support.

This is how it works:

  • Everyone who registers for conference is asked if they would like to contribute to the Fund.
  • Anyone with relevant needs can apply to the Access Fund for support. In short, it can cover childcare, accommodation and travel for anyone who could not otherwise afford it, plus specific costs for those with disabilities (such as sign language interpreting and mobility scooters). You can see more detail about what can be covered and how to apply here.
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How the Access Fund can help you to attend Conference

Embed from Getty Images

The Liberal Democrats and its members are like the fans of North East football teams – passionate, hopeful, want their team to succeed and aspire to be number one.  In addition to this they have good networks, a sense of community (both have a social endeavour to collect for their local foodbank) and are willing to help each other out if a crisis occurs.  They are resilient, similar to the Liberal Democrat membership.

North East fans are welcoming (unless it’s a local derby!) like the Liberal Democrats when new members join the party and attend conference for the first time with their first timer events.

Both, North East football team fans and the Liberal Democrat membership have had a rollercoaster ride with the highs – promotion and increasing number of MPs to share a place in Government, and lows in recent years – relegation, losing MP seats and have had a few changes in Leadership.  Despite these lows both have been resilient and have had a fighting spirit.

The Liberal Democrats would love you to support them on campaigns, vote for them, join them and perhaps become a councillor or MP for them.  In particular, the Liberal Democrats would like people with disabilities, people from BAME, LGBT+, unemployed and low wage people backgrounds to come to conference and let their voices and votes be heard to create policies which will empower their lives.

The Liberal Democrats have set up the Access to Conference Fund to help with the costs of attending conference. I had help from the Access to Conference fund to allow me to pay for my support worker costs to attend conference to listen to the debates and take part in several fringe events.  Hopefully, at the next conference I will be able to get on stage to speak for a motion.  I need to get the mechanics planned properly.

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Conference Countdown 2015: …And breathe – advice for first time conference goers

When you first go to conference there is a risk of overloading with “stuff”.

Bear in mind that conference is a very unusual situation for a human being.

You are there being pumped full of the highest octane level of high octane political content for up to 18 hours a day. I once counted up over 50 subjects on which I had listened to speeches or explanations during a conference week.

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

How accessible is Federal Conference?

For those who are regular attendees at Federal Conference, you will know that over the last few years, the venues have changed significantly. Being in Government, we’ve seen a shift from open door policy to armed police.

And with this added security, many of us with access needs have found problems. Walking distances have increased, check points have increased and venues seemingly expand every year in colour, size and choice of experience.

When you suffer from a long term condition, it’s often overlooked by those who don’t that such needs can have an impact on your ability to enjoy and make the …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

A guid New Year tae ane and aw…

Hogmanay celebrations - Some rights reserved by The Queen's HallSee what happens when you give the Scot on the team the key to Lib Dem Voice Towers on Hogmanay…

On behalf of all of us here, I wish all our readers, commenters and  contributors all the very best for 2013.

I’d also like to say a huge thank you to the rest of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. They are a great bunch of people to work with and are an illuminating and understanding  source of help,

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