Tag Archives: federal conference committee

Guaranteed income: better than a second hand sandwich

The Ashdown Prize has shown there is a hunger in the Party for new policy and new radical and liberal solutions. A policy to make foodbanks more effective may address an immediate need, but why not instead make it our long-term policy to make them unnecessary?

As it stands, Britain has a system to pay people money if they lack an income. Unless they left their last job voluntarily. Or if they fail to jump through enough hoops to show that they’re looking for work in the DWP-approved manner. Or if they refuse to do unpaid demeaning labour for freeloading corporations. Or if they haven’t yet waited the statutory month of poverty after losing their job. Or if they have an illness that varies in severity, making it hard to assess. Or if they’re self-employed or otherwise on a variable income.

Enough is enough.

We have submitted a motion to FCC to consider for Autumn conference. In it we propose “an unconditional minimum level of income below which no-one is allowed to fall, guaranteed to all long-term UK residents”.

Let’s unpick that.

It’s unconditional. Yes, that means to the nasty undeserving poor that the Daily Express really doesn’t like. Yes, it means that poor people can turn down a job that’d be demeaning or bad for their career progression – just like richer people can do at the moment.

It’s a minimum not a maximum. Targetted payments such as housing benefit and additional expenses incurred by disabled people, would still be additional to this.

It’s guaranteed. It’s a proper safety net. One that’s actually safe, and not liable to be withdrawn because your bus to the JobCentrePlus was late and you missed your appointment. One that doesn’t rely on your intermittent medical condition being bad on the day that you’re booked for assessment.

It’s for all long-term UK residents. Not tied to citizenship. Not tied to people being judged to be “the right sort”. Part of our shared obligation to support everyone who is part of our community.

How might it work? Under one version, every eligible person gets a regular payment, with no strings attached on how they spend it. Tax rates are adjusted so that people who are richer are paying a little more overall to fund the payments; people in the middle stay roughly where they are as the tax rise is compensated by the payment; the poorest people, who are not paying much or any tax, simply gain extra income.

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Why Lib Dem Conference should debate UN Nuclear Weapons treaty

This coming Saturday the Federal Conference Committee will meet to choose motions for inclusion on the Agenda for Autumn Conference. Earlier this year a motion was submitted for Spring Conference signed by 137 members calling for the UK to Sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. FCC chose not to include it on the Agenda then. It has been submitted again, this time with 157 members supporting it :

SIGN THE UN TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Conference notes that

(a) in July 2017 the United Nations voted on and approved the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear

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A changing of the guard at Federal Conference Committee

Geoff Payne has been elected as the new Chair of Federal Conference Committee (FCC). Geoff served as Vice-Chair of the committee for eight years and was responsible for chairs’ training, access arrangements and the initial selection of venues and setting of registration rates. He was also a long-standing member of the Federal Policy Committee.

The election for chair followed the decision of long-serving former chair, Andrew Wiseman, to step down. Andrew was a highly popular chair of FCC and steered party conference through a period of great change including the coalition years. Everyone on FCC has paid tribute to …

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A day in the life of…a newly elected member of Federal Conference Committee

As a newly elected member of the Federal Conference Committee (FCC) I was keen to get involved. I left home at 10:00 am in the morning to get to Southport and my first FCC meeting at 2:30 pm. Unfortunately, due to the traffic, I didn’t get to the conference until 3:00 pm and I got to the meeting half an hour late. A few heads were raised as I walked in – I think I made an impression!!

A discussion was in progress on the amendments and emergency motions, I thought it was quite detailed and well thought through. A very good article written by Zoe O’Connell for LDV  details the discussions.

After the meeting, the members of FCC were taken on a tour of the main Auditorium to familiarise themselves with the setup. I met one of the Stewards who was clearly exhausted. He informed me that he has been there since Thursday helping to set things up.

After the tour, there was a meeting to go through the rather complex conference standing orders. I thought the training and discussion on standing orders were very good and it reassured me that different scenarios that arise when motions are discussed can be managed consistently and fairly. On Saturday morning, and I arrived on time, there was another meeting to discuss the arrangements and motions for Sunday. 

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There’s going to be a row at Federal Conference after all…

One of the things that has been noticeably absent from this year’s Conference agenda is much in the way of potential for a scrap. There are a few contentious points in some of the motions but nothing that is really going to generate much in the way of heat.

All that may be about to change.

Last month, I reported that Federal Conference would be given the chance to debate the revocation of Article 50.   

This, I felt, was a very sensible move as, let’s face it, taking a clear position on the biggest issue of the day is always preferable to sticking your finger up getting a vague feel for what the party is feeling. We suffered at the election because of our equivocal position and we need something more robust.

Originally, only a consultation session on the direction of our Brexit strategy was planned. I was glad when I saw that the Federal Conference Committee had relented and decided to offer Conference the chance to debate a motion that would call for the revocation of Article 50, legitimised by an election. Since then, the leadership has put in an amendment which  ramps up the Exit from Brexit language and offers a referendum on the deal.

The movers of the motion, I understand, thought that Federal Conference Committee would remain neutral on this. However, the Committee decided at its most recent meeting to oppose it. This has been seen as a bit of a breach of trust by the movers of the motion. They actually had enough signatures to call a special conference on the issue, tacked on to this one. They were persuaded not to submit their request on the basis that they would have the chance to get their motion debated. This was a very sensible thing to do as the procedural Conference within a Conference thing would have been an optical nightmare for people to understand and would not have given a good impression of us at all.

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Federal Conference to debate revocation of Article 50

Like many others, I was horrified to see that our Federal Conference in Bournemouth was only going to have a consultation session on Brexit and our relationship with the European Union.

That, I felt, was an opportunity missed to make very clear and unambiguous policy. We were a bit too equivocal during the election. Had Tim Farron said on the day the election was announced that if he walked into Downing Street as Prime Minister, the first thing he would do would be to revoke Article 50 because the political earthquake that would had happened would justify it, people would have understood and been convinced that we are an anti-Brexit party. Our referendum on the deal is a good mechanism to stop Brexit but it’s not a good message.

Since the agenda was published, there have been a great number of behind the scenes representations to the party leadership and Federal Conference Committee saying that a consultation simply isn’t good enough.

The good news is that there has been a rethink and Conference will now be given the opportunity if it wishes to have a debate rather than a consultation session. A motion will be published today on the party website. This motion will be amendable.

Because we are a democratic party, we don’t just allow the agenda to be altered by anyone, so Conference has to give its consent. A vote will take place to enable the motion to be discussed in the very first session, at 9:05 am on Saturday 16th September, so those with sore heads from Lib Dem Pint will have to power on through and get in to the hall.  If Conference allows the change, then the motion will be debated on Sunday 17th September between 10:45 and 12:30. If Conference votes against the change, the consultation session will take place as planned at the same time.

The motion itself will probably need amending. It calls for:

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Federal Conference Committee report on selection of motions for Bournemouth

 

Federal Conference Committee met again last weekend to select motions that will be debated when we meet in Bournemouth. 41 motions were submitted, and usually selection proceeds in rounds. Motions are first eliminated on the basis of drafting, debatability and other such issues before subsequent rounds trim the agenda further based on time constraints.

However, due to the snap general election we received slightly fewer motions than usual for an Autumn Conference so only one round of debate was required. In most cases, the discussion gave a clear consensus and no vote was needed, but I have noted below where there was a vote that was particularly close.

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Federal Conference Committee Report – 11 April 2017

The Federal Conference Committee met on 11th April 2017 to review Spring Conference 2017 and to consider the feedback received.

Spring Conference 2018 – York

Spring Conference in York was a success overall. The feedback that we considered came from a number of sources. We received a document containing the comments of committee members, party staff and the stewards. We also considered a summary of the online feedback and an analysis of the speakers cards submitted as against those called. Most of the feedback was very positive.

We had a record number of attendees. We were 19% up on the numbers from 2016. 26% of attendees were first timers. On any view, that is a fantastic set of figures.

In terms of those responding to the survey, there was a 4% increase in those between 40 and 59 and an equivalent decrease in those aged 60-74. 6% of those responding considered themselves to have a disability or access issue.

Over 80% of respondees thought that York was good or excellent as a venue, reinforcing what we are often told – Lib Dems really like going to York. The vast majority thought that security was at excellent. There were a number of grumbles about the catering but it fared better than in previous years. The Novotel also fared better in terms of satisfaction than before.

There was praise for the agenda; it was varied and interesting for the most part. 8% of people thought that there should have been more debates; 2% thought there were too many. 90% thought the balance was about right. As ever, the main motivation for attending conference was said to be debating policy with the next most popular choice being networking.

Most people attended 2-3 fringes. 81% of those responding rated the fringe programme as good or excellent. Over 90% had the same view about the training programme.

The majority of respondees attended conference on the train. A sizeable number attended in a car share. The majority stayed in a privately booked B&B. The price range into which most accommodation fell was the £50-£75 per night category but almost 30% of people managed to find accommodation of under £50. 80% of those responding rated their accommodation as good or excellent value.

The satisfaction with the conference publications was largely the same as last year, namely positive. The app came out with an increased satisfaction level, as did Conference Daily. The website came out as slightly worse.

There were some recommendations for the future. Some people thought that we had outgrown the York Barbican. Others were concerned that the fringe rooms were too small (sadly there is not a lot we can do about that save for note it). There was a general view that we need to reinstate projection in the auditorium – that is the large screen that can be seen behind the chair’s table.

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Report from the Federal Conference Committee

(No, I’ve no idea what it means, either: Ed)

The Federal Conference Committee met for the first time of the new cycle over the weekend of 28th and 29th January 2017. This new committee that has been elected is due to serve for a three-year period.

Membership of the Federal Conference Committee

A number of new members have joined the committee. They include Robert Adamson, Victor Chamberlain, Nick Da Costa, Heidi Worth, Jennie Rigg, Susan Juned, and Alex Hegenbarth. We also welcomed back a few familiar faces.

The first substantive item on the agenda was the election of officers. Andrew Wiseman was re-elected as Chair of FCC and Zoe O’Connell as the Vice-Chair responsible for Conference Communications. I was re-elected Vice-Chair responsible for the General Purposes Sub-Committee (G.P.S.C.).

The following people were appointed to the General Purposes Sub-Committee: Qassim Afzal, Nick Da Costa, Jennie Rigg and Chris Maines. That committee deals with registration rates in the first instance, finances and budgets, stewards and eligibility for the concessionary party body rate.

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What can we learn from the Federal election results?

Yesterday, we learned who party members had chosen to represent them on the main Federal Committees.  These were the first elections held under one member one vote. Previously, only those who had been elected as Conference representatives by their local party could have a say in the direction of the party.

Congratulations to all those who were elected – and commiserations to those who weren’t.

From 2012, Daisy Cooper and Sue Doughty led a process which led to the biggest internal democratic reform in the party’s history. In 2014, Conference accepted their proposals to give every member a vote. We now have not far off twice as many members as we did back then in the last days of the coalition.

So how did these elections go, and what can we learn from them?

Who was elected?

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Federal Conference Committee so far fails to extend unfairly implemented early bird discount for Autumn Conference

It’s been four days since registration for the Autumn Conference opened. It’s three days until the initial early bird discount expires on Wednesday, 27th April. If you want to register, click here.

I suggested last week that having a discounted period that expired a) before payday for most people and b) in the middle of an election.

The party should not be handing out a double whammy to those on lower incomes. More affluent members will be able to take advantage of unbudgeted expenditure before they get paid. Those who are struggling at the end of each month will not – and they’ll be charged an extra £13, a premium of over 20%. There’s an inherent injustice here. I’m sure that this must have been an oversight and I’m sure it can be changed quickly. Let’s hope that there’s a quick rethink.

We know from the comments to my post that there was discussion amongst the Federal Conference Committee about whether that early bird discount rate of £60 should be extended at least until payday. We haven’t yet heard the outcome of those discussions and time is running out.

I still think that an extension to the end of May would be appropriate, but as a bare minimum it should be extended until a week after polling day.

The key points of the FCC’s defence are that there is another early bird discount rate of £73 that will then last until the end of May. That is true, as the table taken from the party website shows:

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Zoe O’Connell’s Federal Conference Committee report

Federal Conference Committee met at Liberal Democrat HQ on Saturday 14th November for a meeting that had, despite press reports suggesting it was called purely to discuss special conference, been in the diary for some time.

Many topics were discussed, as the November meeting is one of the few where members get to kick about ideas and discuss new developments rather than focusing on motion and amendment selection. Even after a relatively short time on the committee, these feel to me as if they are standing agenda items – many FCC members are keen to keep up work on better use of funds to improve conference accessibility and financial inclusion, investigate remote voting, use of new technology, timing of conferences and so on. FCC rarely decides anything concrete at this point, but members are often tasked to go and consult with other groups such as, for example, talking to DEG and LDDA about some aspect of accessibility or funding that has arisen.

I generally refrain from reporting discussions-in-progress on these topics, as I feel it right that groups representing members who have most to gain (or lose) from changes should get the first say. There are three areas that deserve special mention, however:

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Andrew Wiseman writes…Changes to Spring Conference registration

We are trying something new at this year’s Spring Conference. The Autumn Conference saw a record-breaking members’ attendance with more first time conference attendees than ever before and we are keen for even more members to come to conference and actively engage with the Party’s policy making process.

The Spring Conference in York will be the first conference under One Member One Vote and in light of this we reviewed, amongst other things, the current registration system. At our short weekend Spring Conference we will now only be offering a full Member’s registration option so that everyone attending has the right to speak, vote and receive conference papers. This means that we will no longer be offering day visitor passes at Spring Conference.

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Federal Committee candidate lists announced

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderIf you are a party member, you might want to head to this thread on our Members’ Forum to see the lists of people standing for the Party Committees. The ballot will be conducted predominantly online with links to the ballot being provided to those Conference Representatives for whom the party has an email address. Those emails will be being despatched imminently. Ballots will be sent by post to those for whom there is no email address. The postie will be struggling up the path with the weight of the mailing – there are over 100 candidates for the 42 places on the three committees.

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Opinion: My resignation from Federal Conference Committee

Dear Lib Dem Members,

I would like to write to you all and express my regret that Spring Conference this weekend in York has been my last Spring Conference as a member of the Federal Conference Committee.

It was a great honour to be  elected to represent the party back in September 2012. And in that time I have had the privilege to see through several conferences in an historic time, when the Liberal Democrats are part of the Government.

In that time, I’ve learned how to plan a debate, as well as the finer detail of and responses to standing orders that …

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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 …

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Change of venue for Autumn Conference 2014

There have been some changes to Liberal Democrat Conference in Autumn 2014.

We had originally been due to go back to Liverpool next year. However, our conference fell immediately before the Scottish referendum on September 18. In view of this we have had to move our conference to a different date so as not to interfere with campaigning for the referendum. This has also meant changing venues as Liverpool did not have any suitable availability. Instead, Glasgow are able to accommodate us, so we are pleased to be returning there.

Federal Conference Committee didn’t take this decision lightly and we …

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Lib Dem conference to vote on whether it can ‘no-con’ the party leader

nick-clegg-birmingham conf9.30 am on Saturday morning may not be a prime-time slot, but on 9th March there will be more than usual interest in a constitutional amendment tabled to the Lib Dem spring conference.

Why? Because the amendment will make it possible for the Lib Dem federal conference to pass a vote of no confidence in the party leader to trigger an election.

Here‘s the proposed amendment:

const amend - mar 2013

‘An election for the Leader shall be called upon a vote

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Opinion: Halfway to 2015 – three bits of advice for new Lib Dem Federal Party Committees

The beginning of 2013 not only marks the start of the second half of the Coalition, but also the start of the newly elected Federal Committees. Here is some advice for the three crucial ones, Federal Policy Committee (FPC), Federal Conference Committee (FCC) and Federal Executive (FE).

For FPC: Radical policy is required for 2015
Common sense says the 2015 manifesto should play it safe, yet common sense is often wrong.

A study of policy positions in party manifestos since 1971 in Norway, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK shows: Parties in Government who adopt relatively extreme ideological positions do …

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Federal Committee Election results 2012

Postal ballot paper being postedLiberal Democrat Federal Conference reps have voted for members of party committees for 2013-2014; the results are as follows:

Federal Executive committee
Places: 15
Candidates elected:

Qassim Afzal
Elaine Bagshaw

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Lib Dems’ internal elections: your guide to where we’re at (UPDATED)

Every couple of years the Lib Dems hold internal elections in which conference representatives choose members of key party committees. As one of the seemingly few Lib Dems neither standing for election nor with a vote, I thought our readers might like an update on where we’re at…

Federal Executive

What does it do?
The formal answer: ‘The Federal Executive is an elected committee responsible for directing, co-ordinating and implementing the work of the Federal Party.’ (From the party website.)
The informal answer: What does the Federal Executive do? by Alison Goldsworthy
Who’s standing?
There are 36 candidates (26 men, 10 women) competing for …

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Baroness Brinton writes… Standing for Federal Conference Committee

I believe that the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Conference Committee performs a unique role amongst the main political parties in the UK. As a Committee elected from amongst its members, it plans and delivers the Liberal Democrat Conference, and selects motions and amendments for debate and decision by members of the party at conference.

It is this dual function (the utterly practical alongside the vital policy debates) that makes our Conference stand out from the other party conferences which are becoming more and more sterile showcases for senior people. There are three main sub-committees: GPSC (covering the practical and financial) CCG (looking …

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FFAC chair Greenland acknowledges LDV accreditation article was “unhelpful”

The chair of the Federal Finance and Administration Committee, Duncan Greenland has written an article in the Conference edition of Liberator on the highly controversial issue of Conference accreditation. A Liberal Democrat Voice poll in June, consistent with every other test of party opinion on the issue, showed that a majority of respondents opposed the system, which requires conference attendees to undergo police checks.

Mr Greenland felt that the Liberator coverage on the issue had been “misleading” and wanted to put the record straight about the process by which accreditation was approved. He stated that FFAC had become involved after …

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Reports to party conference: two good things

In amongst the paperwork for the Autumn 2012 Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton is the bundle of reports from various party committees and bodies. The idea of the reports, and the ability to question them, is a great one. The content of the reports can have a tendency to be a little too banal or general to make for a meaningful report back from committees to people who elected them.

Take this shock news from the FCC report, for example:

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Federal Committees approve Conference accreditation

We are writing to confirm the decision of FFAC, supported by FE, that there will be a system of police accreditation for members attending this year’s Autumn Conference.

This decision follows an extensive member consultation and debate by the Federal Conference Committee, Federal Finance and Administration Committee and the Federal Executive.

As Liberal Democrats we would prefer it if accreditation were not something we had to consider. Many of us have concerns surrounding individual privacy and personal freedoms and none of us want to put any member who …

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Two useful steps forward in party business at conference

Despite a resurgence in recent years, the tabling of questions to party committee reports at Liberal Democrat conference is still very much a minority sport. So much so that 100% of questions to the Federal Policy Committee came from a certain North London Doctor with an penchant for chocolate…

The questions do however provide a good opportunity to ferret out information or push for a decision where you know the door is half-open. In my case this morning at Gateshead that resulted in questions to both the Federal Conference Committee and the Federal Policy Committee asking them to start publishing reports …

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Breaking News: Federal Conference Committee announce details of the emergency motions ballot

Federal Conference Committee has just met, and the following emergency motions met the Standing Order criteria and will go into the ballot:

1) Violence in Syria
2) Withdrawal of the Health and Social Care Bill
3) Protecting our NHS – the Shirley Williams motion
4) Behind closed doors – Justice and Security Green Paper

These motions will all be on a ballot paper at the back of Saturday’s Daily Announcements. To vote (by STV), please take your completed ballot paper and your Voting Rep badge to the Steward with the ballot box by the Stewards Table in the Hall, between 9 and 1pm. The announcement …

Posted in Conference, News and Party policy and internal matters | 17 Comments

Andrew Wiseman writes… How FCC and voting reps select emergency motions to conference

Federal Conference Committee meets this afternoon to select amendments and separate line votes on the policy motions already published, and also to look at the emergency motions submitted.

Over the last 24 hours, there seems to have been some confusion on Twitter and other Social Networking sites about this process, which is still firmly in the hands of Liberal Democrat voting representatives. I thought it might be helpful just to set out what will happen when.

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Should the way members of federal committees vote be public?

At the end of my post on the Federal Executive’s decision that the Liberal Democrats should (mostly) not fight police commissioner elections, a decision at odds with the views of party members we surveyed, I made reference to the fact that the details of such votes are not published and usually remain confidential. Sometimes news of who voted which way seeps out but, for example, you’re not officially meant to know that three members of the FE voted against that decision or who the three were.

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Chris White writes: Spare a thought for the Federal Conference Committee

I really never thought I would say that.

They can appear somewhat cliquey – the only Federal Committee to publish its mugshots in the conference agenda (apparently conference representatives aren’t interested in who looks after their interests on the Federal Executive or the Federal Policy Committee).

They can be a bit insensitive: not the cleverest idea to select a business motion which would increase their powers over emergency motions at a time when representatives are feeling restless. And a tad cynical to have it at 0900 on Tuesday morning when many will still be at breakfast. (Yes: I know you will have …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | 26 Comments
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