Tag Archives: liberal democrats spring conference 2014

Opinion: Let’s have real “power to the people” for those of us outside the UK

power to the peopleThere is a lot wrong or out-of-date with our current political system. The Lib Dem policy paper “Power to the People” passed at the spring conference in York, addresses those issues in a typically liberal, radical way. It is worthy of our support, as a step forward, even if some find parts of it imperfect.

“Power to the People” aims to explore the viability of overseas constituencies. This would be quite radical for the UK but would – I believe – benefit it a …

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What the media say about the York Conference, part 3

Nick Clegg’s speech at the end of conference was covered by some, but by no means all, media outlets – you can read the full text of the speech here, and view a brief extract here. The Independent highlights Lib Dem Conference: ‘Rivals are airbrushing our role in recovery’ warns Nick Clegg,:

In a policy-lite closing speech to the Lib Dem spring conference in York on Sunday, the Deputy Prime Minister signalled the start of the long campaign to next year’s general election by emphasising the party’s achievements in government.

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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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What the media say about the York Conference, part 2

The Observer carries two major stories about the conference today.  They comment on the key messages in Nick Clegg’s Q&A yesterday afternoon under the headline: Lib Dem conference: stuck in the middle – but with whom?:

It is really quite difficult being a Lib Dem these days. In pre-government times, when they were merely the protest party, they could say almost anything that would get them votes. Now, after several years of enjoying power and wanting more, it is all about positioning between two polar opposites while trying at the same time not to lose the party’s own identity.

But in an article headed Northern Lib Dems rebel over cuts the Observer reports that a group of eight Northern Lib Dem MPs, including Tim Farron,  have handed Nick Clegg a document titled ‘Grim up North?’

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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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Opinion: Conference and Equality

I was personally heartbroken when Nick Clegg was left with no option but to publicly apologise for the party’s inability to uphold free tuition fees.  As my career path requires further university study, I was going to be hit financially and immediately.

Initially I deferred and saved manically but I recognise I am disadvantaged and that my humble beginnings continues to snap at my heels.  Every day requires personal strength and good friends to overcome the obstacles of privilege but every so often, I feel compelled to ‘spell out’ what and how ‘disadvantages’ continue.

My PhD begins on the weekend of the …

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How to follow what is happening at Spring Conference #LDconf

If you are not in York for the Lib Dem Spring Conference, you can follow what is going on in various ways.

For as-it-happens coverage follow the tweets on #LDconf.

Sadly, although the BBC broadcasts the main Autumn conference each year, it does not cover the Spring one – largely because the other parties do not hold similar events. Instead you can follow the live blog on the party website.

For an independent view, the York Press is making the most of having the conference on its doorstep and is also live blogging.

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Linking peace issues with seekers of sanctuary

ld4sos-bannerThe National Friends Peace Board celebrated its 100 years anniversary last year at the Friends Meeting House in York.  They had a walk, linking two issues, between Richmond Castle where the Friends had stood up for the treatment of Conscientious Objectors during the First World War, to more modern matters, the role of the US base at Menwith Hill in spreading militarism around the world.  As they say on their website, “One thing we know from having delved into our history, and of course from our own lives and

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So what’s happening at Conference? Part 3: The Fringe

Here’s the third part of my guide to Spring Conference in York this weekend. Just think, this time tomorrow, we’ll be on our way. Anyway, part 1, the debates, can be found here and part 2, the training, is here.  Oh, and don’t forget to download your Conference App. It’s now been further developed and the issues I mentioned the other day are largely sorted.

It will certainly help you manage your schedule, but, as I sad the other day, it can’t make decisions for you when there are 10 things that you want to go to at …

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Opinion: Tell us your views on a fair, liberal criminal justice system

The prevention, detection and prosecution of crime and the sentencing and rehabilitation of offenders is one of the fundamental roles of the government and the independent judiciary. It is also something that matters enormously to the electorate. No-one wants to be a victim of crime. No-one wants to be accused of a crime they did not commit.  Many offenders would want to rehabilitate themselves and live a decent life in the future.

For too long, crime policy has suffered from an obsession shared by successive Labour and Tory Governments of seeking to be ever tougher than the last and yet completely …

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Opinion: York welcomes Spring Conference

yorkAs the countdown to this weekend continues, I would like to say how pleased I am to be welcoming Spring Conference to York. I have been speaking to local party members, businesses and organisations like Visit York about the conference and it is clear that anticipation is building.

 Visit York estimate that this weekend will boost the city’s economy by more than £600,000. And I know that hotels, B&Bs, guest houses, and restaurants are reporting soaring demand.

Added to the short-term economic boost is the long-term impact that national exposure will bring. It is a showcase for York as a destination for conferences and events. York is a beautiful, well-connected city with the potential to hold many more big political and business conferences. This weekend should just be the beginning….

It is also a chance for our members in York to meet our ministers and MPs as well as councillors and campaigners from across the country. And as we all know, a chance for local party members to actually debate and decide national party policy.

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The Orange Bookers v the Cameroons: Liberal Reform/ERS event at spring conference

This Saturday, March 8th, at spring conference, Liberal Reform and the Electoral Reform Society will be hosting an event in the Bootham Room of the Hilton York on the topic of Which Party for Liberals? Conservative or Liberal Democrats?

I know already that, right from the title, there will be some in the party who will be upset. “Why limit the choice outside of the Lib Dems to just the Tories?”, I can imagine some will ask. The binary nature of the debate was inspired by Nick Boles’ talk a few months ago about the need for a “National Liberal” party, one …

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Have you downloaded your Spring Conference app yet?

The new Liberal Democrat conference app is now available on both Google Play and Apple’s app store. The instructions for downloading it in the Conference agenda are not ever so clear as they don’t tell you what its called –  Lib Dem Spring Conf 2014.

If you have a Blackberry or a Windows phone, you need to go here.

I downloaded mine this morning with more than a little apprehension. You see, it’s never worked for me before. I have always had problems getting the “My Schedule” part of it to work. To me, that part is the whole point. …

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Opinion: Pubs v Pubcos, which side are you on, Mr Cameron?

Dear Dave,

The last time we spoke was in the Tite Inn at Chadlington, a great village pub with a landlord who I and others helped get rate relief for to keep the last pub in the village going.  We know you appreciate pubs – when the phone-hacking scandal was rife, you bolted to Charlbury Beer Festival, though you needed practice at Aunt Sally.  Maybe you’ll have more time to do that soon.

Fast forward a decade or so and you have a big decision in front of you.  With over 100 pubs a month closing due largely to the overpricing …

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Opinion: One member, one vote: What’s not to like?

As many members will be aware, votes on policy, and for members of the committees who run the party are in the hands of the conference representatives elected by local parties.  In other words, your ability to vote depends on your contacts back home. There were good reasons for this once but in this day and age it is time to take a fresh look which is why the Internal Democratic Reform Group of the Federal Executive wants to hear your views.

At present the only all member votes are for the Party Leader and the Party President, and we hope …

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Opinion: Extending participation in education must mean extension of free school transport – support motion to Spring Conference NOW

The age of participation in education is rising to 18, so soon every student will have to enter school, college, an apprenticeship or work with training when they finish their GCSEs.

I believe that every young person has the right to access free state education up to year 13. Accessing free education should include the provision of free transport to the most local educational establishment that is right for them.

Last week Nick Clegg was reported on on this site as saying that he would promise young people “ an equal shot” by helping them to make the right choice after taking their …

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So what’s happening at Conference? Part 2: The Training

A Liberal Youth training sessionPart 2 of my quick guide to Conference features the training programme that’s on offer on Saturday. You can read Part 1 on the debates here.

The biggest problem with Conference is that there simply isn’t enough time to do everything you want. There aren’t enough hours in the day, even if you dispense with sleeping to catch up with friends and go to all the debates and fine meetings and training sessions you want. That’s not just because many of the things you want to go …

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So what’s happening at Conference? Part 1 The Debates

Jo Swinson Opening Glasgow ConferenceIn just 9 days’ time, Liberal Democrats will gather in York for Spring Conference.

If you haven’t been to Conference before, Spring Conference is smaller and shorter than the main event in Autumn, but it’s no less intense and interesting.

I thought I’d take a wee look around what will be happening next weekend in terms of debates, fringe and training.

But let’s get one thing out of the way first. When the agenda first came out, I had a bit of a wail on Twitter. If there is one thing I don’t want to see in my Conference agenda, it’s a great big enormous picture of Nigel Farage. Please never do this to us again, Conference Team. Thanks.

Unusually for a conference two months before an election, there are some interesting and possibly controversial debates on the agenda.

The debates kick off on Saturday morning with a motion on the large companies which dominate the pub market in this country. Even if you don’t like beer, it’s worth going to see if proposer Greg Mulholland dresses as the Casked Crusader. Andy Boddington wrote here last year about the effect of Pubcos’ behaviour on local communities and tenants. This is a good old liberal attack on the abuse of power and something that’s relevant in every area.

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Julian Huppert MP writes: Lib Dem immigration policy paper is strong, balanced and compassionate

Public concern about immigration has been fuelled by the rise of UKIP, and further driven by the Tories desperately trying to show how tough they can be on foreigners, and Labour keen not to be left out of the ‘sounding tough’ rhetoric. I am always disappointed that just about the only thing Labour has apologised for is letting too many people into the country in their 13 years.

We must stand firm against the anti-foreigner tide, and the Immigration Policy Paper, which you can read here, does exactly that. Andrew Stunell has led the working group impressively to produce a …

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Why you need to register for Liberal Democrat Spring conference NOW

I’ve just thought to myself that I’d just take 5 minutes to register for Liberal Democrat Spring conference in York, which takes place from 7-9 March. Every time I’ve thought that in the past couple of months since registration opened, I’ve never done anything about it, thinking that it was fine,  I had till 31st December to get the cheap rate, don’t need to do it now. By some minor miracle, while procrastinating from something else, I got as far as the Conference registration page this morning.

Then, of course, I couldn’t remember my user name. I tried all the …

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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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