Tag Archives: spring conference 2018

Thinking the unthinkable is fun and might just lead us somewhere interesting

Have you ever wondered if there’s a policy the Lib Dems could be promoting that simply isn’t part of the political landscape? One that doesn’t fall under economics, health, education, environment or any of the traditional categories of modern-day politics?

This question was raised during the ‘Radical Liberalism’ fringe meeting held in Southport last weekend, which was part of the Social Liberal Forum’s fringe programme and which I chaired. The meeting itself was very unlike most fringe meetings which focus on a speaker or two from the top table – this was more of a brainstorming session, and I threw in a number of questions at various intervals to guide the debate. The result was that most of the 80 or so people who packed out the room contributed to the discussion.

About half-way through, I asked whether there were any policies that people might like to throw into the mix which weren’t currently on the political map, even if they may seem a bit off-the-wall. I said they might well not be viable, but sometimes thinking the unthinkable leads to ideas that might not otherwise emerge.

The first suggestion was that we might advocate moving the capital from London to somewhere more central. The person suggesting it wasn’t just arguing for geographical fairness, but saying it doesn’t help us to have the country’s administrative and democratic centre in the primary financial hub, and that London should be allowed to become like Frankfurt, Amsterdam or Zürich which are major cities but don’t host national parliaments and governments.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 25 Comments

What did you think of Southport?

I’ve just completed my Conference feedback survey with more than my usual irritation that it didn’t give me the chance to give the feedback I wanted.

If you attended Conference, you will have a link to the survey in your email.

I had a marvellous time in Southport. I had an amazing b and b, The Leicester, which was very cheap but spotless, comfortable, well decorated and there was even a doggie for me to pet.

It was the first time that I’d been there in 20 years and I regretted not having the …

Posted in News | 13 Comments

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. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

17 days to shape Lib Dem policy on immigration

The first events of the Southport Conference last Friday afternoon were three policy consultation sessions. These sessions are the intermediate stage of the policy development process. The first is the establishment of a policy working group which looks at the key issues and takes evidence and then produces a consultation paper to be discussed at Conference and which is also accessible online for members to comment on.

The three papers discussed at Spring will be finalised in light of the consultation and then put to Conference for a final decision.

I went to the session on Immigration. I  should have read the consultation paper weeks ago when it first came out, not on the way down on the train. However, when I did read it, I pretty much spontaneously combusted. I am pretty much a “people should be able to live wherever they want” sort of person. I am not daft enough to think that that is going to fly in the current political environment but I do think our policy should reflect the fact that people are falling in love with life partners from all over the world and we should do all we can to keep them together. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 48 Comments

Vince talks to Voice Part 3: A message of hope that Brexit can be stopped

As you know, I managed to grab 10 minutes with Vince, his wife Rachel and some delicious sandwiches just after his speech on Sunday.  You can also read Parts 1,  and 2

I asked him what he wanted to have accomplished by the time we gather in Brighton for Conference in September.

Well I think there are some very specific areas where good work has been initiated – learning accounts, medical technologies, taxation. that will be some meaty stuff to talk about.

But Brexit is going to be the big thing….

We will have a greater understanding by September of exactly where we are in the Brexit cycle. Hopefully the message of hope that this can be stopped will be clearer but even if it isn’t totally clear we will then have one month to stop it and October may be the crucial month so people need to be prepared that this is the time for the big push and to back up what’s happening in the party and at conference with stuff on the streets. That’s crucial.

We are the only party that is mobilising people to argue back with street campaigns. We need to build up the tempo on that working with other campaigning groups. We’ve already started that. It doesn’t stop at the local elections. It needs to keep going over the Summer as the key decisions will be made in the Autumn. I hope that people’s confidence that this is doable is fortified by some victories in the Spring. If we can get the Government defeated on the customs union, that’ll be a start. It’s not the end but it’s certainly the start.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

What can we expect from Vince today?

Vince has a couple of jobs in his keynote speech today. First of all, he has to continue to stake our claim to be the Party that wants to stop Brexit. The Party is stepping up its anti-Brexit rhetoric. Tom Brake explicitly told Conference yesterday that Brexit was such a disaster for the Country that we would be doing all we could to ensure that people got a say on the final deal. Catherine Bearder MEP said that “the Emperor is stark naked.”

But that is only half the story. This Conference has made some key proposals on other issues that voters care about – dealing with the housing crisis by giving local authorities radical new powers to build more houses, reforming schools by replacing OFSTED and abolishing SATS to reduce stress to pupils and teachers. Today we’ll have some serious proposals to give the NHS the investment it needs. This is part of building a programme of policy that looks to tackle inequality and poverty in this country. Expect Vince to talk about that.

We can also expect him to really have a go at Labour. We’ve seen a it of that already at the Conference. Yesterday, Simon Hughes highlighted Labour’s huge failures on housing which let a whole generation of young people down. He’ll also highlight Corbyn’s complicity with the Tories on Brexit. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 32 Comments

Conference tells Federal Board to think again on new disciplinary processes

There was shock late yesterday afternoon when Conference referred back the new disciplinary proposals brought forward by the Federal Board as a result of the Macdonald Review.

The new process had been developed by Ken Macdonald, a former Director of Public Prosecutions and was designed to be independent of the state parties. The current system is clearly not fit for purpose, at least at English Party level. Complainants tell of long delays- one woman described a 13 month to have her complaints sexual harassment dealt with – and unsatisfactory results.

Conference decided by just two votes to refer the matter back to the Federal Board after speakers expressed concerns about the proposals. While the English Party Chair, Liz Leffman, was fully behind the new system, other senior members of the English Party spoke against the proposals citing practical difficulties and opposition to measures designed to give limited powers to key figures in the Party. They objected to a measure that would give the Party President a right to appeal against any decision on behalf of the Party – a vital safeguard, I would have thought, if a decision was made that clearly went against the weight of the evidence. Another move, to give the Federal Chief Executive emergency power to suspend a member for a very short period of time. Best practice in voluntary organisations and workplaces gives an immediate power of suspension in cases of gross misconduct. Under the new system, the ordinary process of suspending someone could take up to 14 days. If you have someone convicted of some sort of offence involving harassment or assault on the eve of a Conference, that presents immediate safeguarding issues and quicker action may be needed.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMichael BG 21st Apr - 1:28am
    Tamir, we didn’t “overall do a lot of good”. We overall supported a lot of bad things while doing a few good things which either...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 21st Apr - 12:38am
    @ nvelope2003 Your earlier post was a general attack on providing particular services and paying Councillors allowances. I am glad to read that you do...
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 20th Apr - 7:38pm
    Anyone who thinks air strikes will change things in Syria should think again. Why can't Assad be charged with war crimes? We should be freezing...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 20th Apr - 7:34pm
    From 2001 to 2009 I was a County Councillor member of the Lincolnshire Police Authority before standing down in favour of another Lib Dem colleague....
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 20th Apr - 7:34pm
    At least The House of Lords is providing a voice for those who feel the present direction of travel of Brexit needs reassessing. If it...
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 20th Apr - 7:30pm
    Regarding the motion on cervical screening it would be good if we sometimes looked at the cost effectiveness of different types of screening, the impact...