Today at Spring Conference

The Saturday of Spring Conference is very busy, with a packed training programme and fringe as well as debates in the hall. Don’t forget to grab your daily bulletin and make sure that you vote for the emergency motion you want to see debated by lunchtime.

The party will be talking about Brexit but because the situation was so fluid, the motion will only be published when we get to Conference as to do so before could have rendered it out of date.

The most controversial debate of the day will be on nuclear weapons. The policy paper produced by the Working Group recommends maintaining a nuclear deterrent while aiming for a global reduction in nuclear weapons. The arguments in favour of the motion and in favour of having no nuclear deterrent have been set out on this site  here by Tim Farron and here by David Grace respectively.

There’s a huge variety of fringe meetings. Some highlights are below.

Here is the full timetable for the day:

09.00–09.10: Opening of conference by Baroness Brinton
09.10–09.30: Report of Federal Conference Committee
Report of Federal Policy Committee
09.30–10.30: Policy Motion: A rational approach to harm reduction (Sex work policy paper)
10.30–11.15: Policy Motion: Tackling overcrowding in the prison system
11.15–11.35: Speech by Lynne Featherstone
11.35–12.40: Emergency motion or topical issue: Britain and the EU

12:40-14:20: Lunchtime fringe

14:20-15:20: Policy Motion: The crisis in health and social care
15:20-16:05: Tim Farron Q & A: Questions (max 25 words) to be submitted to Speakers’ Table by 12:40 pm today.
16:05-16:25: Speech by Susan Kramer
16:25-17:40: Towards a world free of nuclear weapons
17:40-18:00: Report of the Parliamentary Parties in the Lords, Commons and European Parliament.

18:15 till late Evening Fringe

Fringe highlights – lunchtime

Again, I wouldn’t be abusing my position as editor of this site properly if I didn’t plug the meeting I am speaking at pretty shamelessly. I do have a good excuse , though, because I’m on a panel with Sarah Olney MP and  former co-editor of this site Mark Pack. We’ll be talking about the challenges facing Liberalism this year  at the event run by the Radix think tank. This takes place in Meeting Rooms 1 and 2 of the Novotel.

Liberal Democrat Women, in an event using the title “Shrill, nasty women” as a badge of honour, look at the impact of the openly misogynistic political environment on women’s participation in politics. This is the one I’d go to if I wasn’t speaking at the Radix event and it takes place in Meeting Room 6 of the Novotel.

If you are after food, you might want to head to the Rights, Liberty Justice event on the independence of the judiciary and the attacks on them following the Article 50 Judgement. Daisy Cooper, co-executive director of Hacked Off and Liberal Democrat PPC for St Albans will be speaking there.

Lib Dems for Seekers of Sanctuary are discussing how to best support asylum seekers when they arrive in this country. Shas Sheehan who has done so much to help those in the Calais jungle, will be speaking.

Also at lunchtime, Your Liberal Britain unveils its vision competition winners, ALDC talk about housebuilding and planning, the LGA focus on preventing illness and Green Liberal Democrats have former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey asking if we’re clear on nuclear.

Fringe highlights – evening

There are two rounds of fringe meetings in the evening plus the late evening Glee Club.

The one you probably need to turn up early for to make sure you get in is the Social Liberal Forum event with Vince Cable talking about the economy at 18:15. Don’t do what I’ve done before and assume everything is happening in the Novotel – because this one is happening in the Hilton which is a good 10 minutes’ walk away if not more.

In the same slot, you have the LGA Lib Dems learning from the Lib Dems in Watford, ALTER on the failings in the housing market, LGBT+ Lib Dems on sex work and diversity and  the Lib Dem Education Association has its AGM.

The ugly head of Brexit is reared in various dimensions by Brussels and Europe Lib Dems, Liberal Reform and Rights Liberty Justice.

The Liberal Democrat Christian Forum also has a meeting to discuss faith and politics.

Later on, from 19:45, you might be wondering where you’re going to get something to eat. Offering food in this slot are the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust talking about the power of the press. “The greatest danger to our national life?” they ask. Also feeding people are the Lib Dem engineers and scientists talking about Brexit and science.

I should say that you shouldn’t expect a huge amount to eat – maybe just a cup of tea and a biscuit, but it will keep you going.

Green Lib Dems also have food at their AGM, but you’ll need to be a member. Just as well they have a stall in the exhibition where you can sign up in advance.

The Young Liberals invite you to find out how to get involved in their campaigns and London Region has a very fun-sounding rapid fire policy pitch exercise.

My choice for this session would be the Social Democrat group where Jo Swinson and local Labour MP Rachel Maskell have been invited to talk about how to fight for social justice when money is tight. I am very impressed with their line-up after they presented us with an all male panel in Brighton last September.

You will need £30 to go along to Alistair Carmichael’s whisky tasting session. It’s worth it just to hear his banter. I went to the event at Scottish conference last week, thinking that if I drank whisky I wouldn’t need wine at dinner. It didn’t quite work out like that but the whiskies were mostly delicious apart form the one that tasted like a bonfire and the one that smelled like milk. However, the bonfire one was loved by most of the other people on my table.

The evening closes with the utterly bonkers and completely irreverent Glee Club. If you have never been before, you will probably wonder what planet you have found yourself on. It is very tongue in cheek, though, and a great place to laugh at ourselves and everybody else.

You can follow the events of the day  on the party website’s live blog or via the team’s Twitter feed on the sidebar or via the #ldconf tag on Twitter.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Richard Underhill 18th Mar '17 - 12:34pm

    Losing Deposits is an old song. The Labour Party lost 109 deposits in the 1983 general election, we lost none. Eventually Michael Foot resigned.

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