Tag Archives: federal conference committee

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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