Tag Archives: suspension of membership

In defence of Liberal principles

At the (virtual) Party Conference at the weekend, a large number of amendments will be proposed to the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Constitution. Many of these are recommended by a Working Group (of which I was a member) appointed by the Executive. Others are proposed by the Executive themselves, mostly intended to improve or clarify the wording, and largely uncontentious. There is one, however, which was not recommended by the Working Group and which I believe should be strongly opposed.

Since the formation of the Party in 1988, the Constitution has set out the grounds on which a Party Member can be expelled from membership and the procedure by which this can be done. Until 2009, there was no provision for suspending a person’s membership while the grounds for expulsion were investigated or considered. A power to suspend was then inserted into the Constitution, largely because there could be occasions when the Party’s reputation might be at risk if it did not seem to be taking action about something unacceptable. The length of time for which a member can be suspended was limited to three months, after which it must lapse. The concept of “innocent until proved guilty” is an important one to anyone of liberal mind. Suspension, even for a short time, does deprive somebody of their rights and needs to be justified.

The Executive is proposing to Conference to increase the length of time for which a Party Member may be suspended to six months. I understand that the reason arises from our adoption of the Federal Party’s disciplinary process a few years ago. This process was a response to concern about the Party’s handling of complaints of inappropriate behaviour by Party Members, and it can be quite protracted, though cases now average about six weeks.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 5 Comments
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Thu 28th Oct 2021
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