Tag Archives: liberal democrats spring conference 2016

Spring Conference highlights

Conference rallyI’m home from York, having had about 7 hours’ sleep in the last two days. That’s not entirely due to hanging round in bars late at night with lovely people. When you are making the most controversial speech of the entire Conference, that tends to dominate.

For the second time in two years, I arrived in York to brilliant sunshine. Sadly, I didn’t get to enjoy any of the city at all. In an ideal world, I would have gone down on Thursday, had some dinner with friends and spent Friday sightseeing. One of these days I will get myself organised so that I’m not still writing speeches and doing all my pre-conference prep right up until the very last minute.

If I find myself in York again, I am definitely going back to the Barbican Guest House. Two minutes’ walk from the Conference Centre, spotlessly clean, comfortable, wonderful breakfast and a dog to pet. What more could anyone possibly want? How about a crystal decanter of sherry in the room? I am not kidding.

Here are some of my best bits of the weekend:

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

What do you think will happen to the Centre-Left?

At conference, this Saturday, Vince Cable and Roger Liddle will respond to the question, “where now for the centre-left?” It is a good question.

Around the September conference of last year, Vince Cable wrote “progressive centre-left politicians from Labour and the Liberal Democrats need to ‘come together’ to stop the Conservatives monopolising power in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory.”

That sounds to me like a repeat of the 1980s, with either an Alliance, or a new merged party.

Shortly after, Tim Farron pointed to a possible future where disaffected Labour MPs would switch directly to our party.

He made an open pitch to Labour’s members and elected politicians to jump ship to the Liberal Democrats, and he also invited disaffected Tories. In his leader’s speech, he said “if you are in your heart a liberal or a social democrat, you have a home in the Liberal Democrats.”

Posted in News | Also tagged | 26 Comments

‘Electing diverse MPs’ motion is comprehensive, balanced and sensible

Reading through the “Electing diverse MPs” motion for the York conference, I was struck by how it comprehensively covers the necessary territory in a very measured and sensible way.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 34 Comments

Baroness Lindsay Northover writes…As time goes by

At the Spring conference we will debate a topic which has spanned my whole political lifetime.  We will be debating a motion on increasing the diversity among our future MPs.

In that election night in May 2015 we not only lost wonderful male MPs, we also lost all of our wonderful women MPs.

One of the things we must do as we rebuild our Party is to ensure that we have a more diverse group of MPs.  Like the other major parties in Britain.

I joined the SDP, new to politics, back in 1981.  I was excited by the new party, the realignment of politics – but especially its emphasis on women being as prominent in the party as men.  How could it not do so, with one leader being my beloved Shirley Williams?  Its equivalent of the Federal Executive was gender balanced – each region elected one man and one woman.  We were the first political party in the UK to insist that women must be included on parliamentary shortlists. I was selected from such a shortlist to fight Welwyn Hatfield in 1983 and 1987.  (The more winnable seats close by – Stevenage and St Albans – were of course fought by men.)

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 48 Comments

Our failure to improve diversity has driven people away

Should I support the diversity motion at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in York next week? My initial reaction is, yes, this is right, but it will be a hard decision to support something that will probably hurt many within the party.

I suspect some will argue the motion is not legal. I remember at conference many years ago when an all women shortlist motion was debated and lost. I saw highly respected women speaking against the motion because they believed local party members should choose the right candidate based on skills and experience. It seems things haven’t changed and we are still a long way from being a truly diverse party.

On a personal level, I had very high hopes for a good friend who is black, a very experienced community campaigner and politician and a strong supporter of diverse communities. However he was not selected in spite of having lived in the area for some time. It is people like him who have the potential to be a future leader who are not being given a chance. They selected a candidate who barely knew the area.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 22 Comments

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