Tag Archives: spring conference 2021

Ed Davey sets out Liberal Democrat vision of a brighter, more hopeful future

Ed Davey made his keynote speech to Federal Conference this afternoon. We’ll have the video when it is up but in the meantime, here are the words:

Good afternoon Conference.

Our country is hurting right now.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand lives have been taken by this cruel virus.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand mums and dads. Brothers and sisters. Sons and daughters.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand empty chairs at our kitchen tables.

So many families, mourning the loss of a loved one.

Even those who have been spared the agony of bereavement…

Even they are suffering enormous hardships.

Families kept apart by lockdown.

Parents who haven’t seen their children for over a year.

Grandparents who’ve missed out on the joy of holding the new baby.

Businesses closed. Jobs lost. Savings destroyed.

A whole year of isolation. Fear. Grief.

Government Failures

All compounded tragically by the failures of this Conservative Government. Poorly prepared. Slow to act. Ignoring expert advice.

Boris Johnson’s indecision and incompetence has failed our nation.

Leaving the most vulnerable – elderly people, disabled people – to be attacked by the virus in their care homes, where they should have been safe.

Leaving our country with a shockingly high death rate – one of the worst in the world.

This Government must be held to account. Britain’s bereaved families deserve answers.

So Liberal Democrats will continue to lead that charge.

Boris Johnson must set up now the independent inquiry he promised me in the House of Commons last June.

No more excuses. No more delays.

Sarah Everard and protests

And after all the pain inflicted by Covid, last week we were forced to confront another national anguish.


The shocking, tragic killing of Sarah Everard.


And the violence perpetrated by far too many men against far too many women.


The abuse, the harassment and the fear women face every day, walking down their own streets.


And then, those awful scenes from Clapham Common.


Women, wrestled to the ground by police officers.


Handcuffed and dragged away, simply for holding a peaceful vigil in Sarah’s memory.


Simply for saying enough is enough.


We have to do better as a country.


We must do better at tackling violence against women.


Believing survivors. Making clear that misogyny in any form is unacceptable.


And we have to do better as men.


Listening to women. Calling out other men. Never turning a blind eye.


Just as with the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, this pandemic makes these issues more urgent – not less.


And this Government – these Conservatives, who talk so much about their freedoms and their free speech –


Must stop their assault on everyone else’s freedoms.


Our fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and protest.


Rights that have always been so crucial to our democratic society.


Rights crucial to the struggle over decades to advance equality and end discrimination.


The recovery we need

After so much hurt, we need hope.


And that is what our wonderful NHS staff and volunteers are injecting into our lives as they work tirelessly delivering vaccines.


Hope, so we can finally look forward.


And as we do, we must put recovery first.


The recovery of our health, our freedoms and our communities.


The recovery of business, the economy and jobs.


A recovery that is fair.


Fair for the doctors and nurses, care workers, teachers, and countless more on the frontline who have gone to work every day – putting themselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe.

Fair for the people who have stepped up heroically to look after their loved ones.


The unpaid carers so often forgotten.


The parents who have somehow juggled home-working with home-schooling.


Fair for the small businesses who have adapted and innovated and sweated their way through this crisis.


All of you – together – have pulled our country through.


Thank you.


So we need a recovery that does justice to the sacrifices you have made.


A fairer, greener, more caring country

A recovery that delivers on our vision of a fairer, greener, more caring country.




Where everyone can have a good job and real opportunity, no matter where they were born or what school they go to.


Where small businesses and the self-employed can thrive, creating secure jobs with good pay.


Where every person’s rights and dignity are respected.


And fairer: where women no longer have to fear harassment, abuse and violence from men.




Where we invest in exciting new technologies and insulate every home – to create secure, well-paid, green jobs in every part of the UK.


Where we work together with other nations to tackle the global climate emergency.


Where we clean our air and protect green spaces, and so improve people’s mental and physical health.


And more caring…


Where we look after one another, and finally recognise the true value of care.


Where we stand up for carers and give them the support they deserve.


Where people with mental ill health get quality care, quickly – not least children and young people.


And where we pay our nurses and care workers properly.


How dare Boris Johnson say all he can afford is a one per cent pay rise for nurses and other NHS staff?


How can he find billions for contracts for his Tory cronies, but not for the amazing people who have put their lives on the line for us?


How dare he boast about the vaccine rollout they are delivering so brilliantly, while he treats them so disgracefully?


Prime Minister: pay NHS and care staff properly. Do it now.


Put recovery first

Friends, that’s the recovery our nation needs.

That’s the fairer, greener, more caring country that lies ahead of us.

I know the British people can get there. But it will take the Liberal Democrats to lead the way.

Just as Liberal Democrats have already led the way towards a fairer, greener, more caring country –

With the progress we have delivered in Parliaments and councils across the UK –

Wherever and whenever we win elections.

And we can do it again now.

Because we will put recovery first.

If only the others would.

But the Conservatives won’t.

They have put Brexit ahead of the national interest, with their disastrous trade deal.

The Conservatives have put enriching their wealthy friends ahead of fair pay for nurses or support for small businesses.

And they are putting their right-wing, shrink-the-state ideology ahead of working with industry, even junking the very idea of an industrial strategy. Just when we need a recovery.

And the Nationalists in Scotland certainly won’t put recovery first.

Because they put their obsession with independence ahead of everything else.

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Willie Rennie: Independence would be like Brexit on a rocket to Mars

Willie Rennie compared the SNP’s plans for Scottish independence as like “Brexit on a rocket to Mars” – ie

It would take a lot of energy, the journey is very long and there is no way back.

In his keynote speech to Liberal Democrat Conference, Willie set out the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ plan to deprive the independence supporting parties of a majority with our plan to put recovery first by investing in mental health, jobs and education.

He also highlighted our idea for a Commission to look at ways of preventing violence against women and girls in all its forms.  We hope that other parties will back it.

Watch here. The text is below:

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Lib Dem passion for civil liberties shines through in right to protest debate

Conference overwhelmingly backed the right to protest today in a passionate debate which showed the party at its best. It’s so important given that the Official Opposition’s first instinct was to abstain on this draconian legislation and had to be shamed into opposing it.

We called on the Government to drop the proposals set out in the Police, Sentencing and Courts Bill and reaffirmed our support for the Human Rights Act.

You can read the motion here.

I’ve done a Twitter thread summarising the main points that were made in the debate:

After the debate, Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

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Confessions of a first time virtual conference speaker – Where’s the bar?

I can’t claim that this is my first Liberal Democrat conference – by a long chalk (snort!). That was back in 1992ish. And I think I made my first conference speech then (or shortly afterwards).

But last night was quite exciting. I attended my first virtual Liberal Democrat conference and made my first virtual conference speech.

I have to say that I was very impressed indeed by the whole set-up. Well done to Geoff Payne and the team for an excellent job putting it on!

It’s just like attending a “terrestial/physical” conference except for the absence of a certain essential facility – of which, more later.

I haven’t spoken at conference for a while. In fact, I think the last time I spoke was in 2013 when we rejected the idea of an automatic block on internet pornography.

Posted in Conference, Humour and Op-eds | 4 Comments

Your last chance to get drafting advice for Conference motions…

The dates for the Scottish and Federal Spring conferences have been set as we reported last week.

Scottish Conference will meet virtually from 5-6 March and Federal Conference will meet virtually two weeks later 19-21 March.

The great thing about our Conferences is that even in their virtual form, members have been able to submit policy motions and amendments for debate. In our party, we give our members actual power to make policy and set the direction of the party.

This is your reminder that if you want any of the nice people from the respective Committees to help you draft a policy motion, you only have until Tuesday (Scotland) and Thursday (Federal) to request it.

You don’t actually have to get drafting advice and you will still be able to submit motions by the deadlines of 6th January (federal) and 8th January (Scotland).

The Scottish LIb Dems have a really useful guide on how to draft a well-structured motion which you can see here.

1. What does the Committee look for?

A motion should be easy to understand, logically argued and well presented. If the Committee finds it difficult to understand the purpose of a motion or to follow the case it argues, it is likely that conference will also have problems. Equally – though this is harder for anyone drafting a motion to predict – the motion should be in a subject area where it is desirable for the party to develop new policy or make its existing policies or achievements known. Other things being equal, a shorter motion usually has an advantage over a longer one.

2. What features will reduce the chances of a motion being chosen?

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How to get involved with Scottish and Federal Spring Conferences

Both Scottish and Federal Conferences will be taking place virtually in March. Often, pre-election conferences aren’t so well attended as people prioritise their local campaigns. This time, it’s easier for everyone to take part in at least some of it and not miss out on that all-important leaflet delivery and door-knocking.  Here’s how you can take part:

Scotland (and members from all across the UK are welcome)

Scottish Conference Convener Paul McGarry announced the Scottish event, from 5-6 March, in an email to members:

Spring conference will be taking place on FRIDAY 5th and SATURDAY 6th MARCH 2021.

Like our autumn and special conferences, this conference will be taking place on the online platform HopIn.

We have decided to do conference registration a little differently this time. To register for a general early bird ticket, click here. The early bird tickets are only available until 2nd February 2021. If you would like to purchase an early bird concession or first timer ticket, you will need to fill out this form.

Key dates to note:

  • Deadline for feedback on motions: 15th December 2020 at noon.
  • Deadline for submitting motions: 8th January 2021 at noon.

That motions deadline is eye-waveringly close to the Christmas holidays so if you have an idea for a motion, get thinking about it now.

Federal Conference

Federal Conference Committee Chair Geoff Payne wrote to members to announce the details of the federal event taking place two weeks later, from 19-21 March:

Registration is open for Spring Conference 2021. Following the success of our online conference in Autumn, Spring conference will again be 100% online.

At our conference you can shape party policy, virtually meet MPs, councillors and members from across the country, hear from experts on a range of topics at our fringe events and learn new skills at our training sessions.

Tickets start from £40 until 13 January, or £10 for full-time students and those claiming benefits.

You can register here.

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