We need a flexible Conference

With the terrible twins Johnson and Cummings in charge, this country is in the most dangerous situation since the start of World War Two. They are planning a right wing coup, with neither of them elected by the British public. Johnson was elected by a handful of elderly right-wingers in the Tory Party and Johnson elected Cummings, who is contemptuous of our democratic process

The news changes every day, and the likelihood is that we are approaching a democratic and economic disaster.

Lib Dems now have a higher profile than for some years, and we can expect more interest in our Conference than in the past.

The public will want to know:

  • What are our solutions to the major issues this country faces?
  • What is our response if we are forced into a No Deal Brexit?

We need to achieve maximum publicity for our response to this crisis.

We therefore need to clear the decks at conference in order to address these issues in the light of the then current circumstances.

Policy Motions F8, F15, F17, F19, F29, F32, F33, F34, F37 address, or partly address current issues. For example, Fairer Shares is not robust enough. The remaining Policy Papers are not relevant to the current crisis and must go.

Federal Conference Conmmittee, working with other Federal Committees and the Shadow Cabinet should then identify replacement relevant discussion papers.

There may also be key decisions that should be put to members. We must try and avoid a Special Conference.

A motion to suspend standing orders at the start of Conference can achieve this.

If ever there was a time to make last minute changes to Conference to address national issues it was now. We need to answer two questions, “What are Liberal Democrats for?” and (in the event of No Deal) “How should we develop relations with the EU?”.  There will be no enthusiasm for immediately trying to get back in, but we need to stay as close as possible. We must also promote the six key (non Brexit) issues we will fight the election on.

* David Becket is a former Lib Dem County Councillor, Unitary Councillor and District Councillor; he has held positions of responsibility at all levels.

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  • This is an interesting idea. How would we make sure that all our members knew what was happening, especially those not planning to go to conference? What resources would be needed over the next few weeks? And what would using resources in that way mean for our ability to fight a general election.
    I think that these are real issues for the party. I certainly agree that we need a means of consulting members on issues as they happen. In the IT age this should be easier than in the past, but would need careful planning. In particular questions like how to cater for those without internet access, or who cannot see a screen.
    This is urgent, and we should start with getting ideas from party members on it – and feeding back to the members.

  • John Marriott 29th Aug '19 - 10:27am

    Democracy possibly in tatters, a siege economy possibly round the corner, possibly our greatest existential crisis since the Battle of Britain…..and all some people seem to be worried about is a bloody party conference!

  • Conference will be an extended PPB. Which means polished optics.


    – no childish “we’re showing the leader who’s boss” antics by the awkward squad (they know who they are).
    – 5 simple, clear messages on what we stand for, and what we will do if no deal

  • Andrew McCaig 29th Aug '19 - 10:36am

    Making sure our Party Conference focusses on these key issues when the media are actually going to pay attention for a change seems like a good idea.
    I doubt if the ponderous Party structures will be nimble enough however.

  • John Marriott 29th Aug '19 - 10:56am

    For some reason I am again reminded of what the Kaiser said to the Reichstag at the start of WW1. Translated it read “I do not recognise parties any more, only Germans”. Please don’t keep fiddling while Rome burns.

  • Richard MacKinnon 29th Aug '19 - 11:02am
  • James Baillie 29th Aug '19 - 11:21am

    Conference is fundamentally not a party political broadcast, it’s a decision-making body, and TCO’s call for responding to a threat to Britain’s democracy with the effective prorogation of our own party democracy seems to me to be, to say the least, a poorly judged response to current circumstances. We have sections of conference set out for parliamentarians to make speeches, we have sections of conference for debating policy. We don’t need to fill a full four days with either one of those two things.

    Other than the rally and the leader’s speech, frankly the press never have taken and never will take all that much of an interest in the minutiae of conference; BBC parliament watchers, alas, being a body not quite large enough in number to swing target seats our way.

    I sympathise with the idea that far too many of the motions are too bland to really draw sharp dividing lines between us and our opponents, but the Lib Dem shadow cabinet have often already had significant input on policy papers as have FPC so I’m not sure getting them to write short notice replacements for their own work will produce much meaningful. I’m also far from convinced that deciding (as this article proposes) to remove the debate on alleviating poverty from the agenda entirely would be a good look. The Labour attack lines if we did so really do write themselves – hardly polished optics…

  • Brian Edmonds 29th Aug '19 - 11:24am

    Absolutely spot on David. I read the agenda with mounting dismay. Ignore the doom-mongers, we risk playing to all the worst stereotypes – preoccupation with pet issues and a void where the big vision should be. Give Ed Davey the chance to set out a bold macro-economic strategy, for example, and our housing policy should be equally innovative and comprehensive – step forward Tim Farron. As you say, we have a real chance to be heard – the radical step-up you suggest would be communications gold in itself. With the other parties in disarray, we miss this chance at our peril.

  • Zoe O'connell 29th Aug '19 - 11:25am

    We have slots reserved for handling these sorts of events – as with previous conferences we have a later deadline for the Europe motion of Thursday 5th September, to be debated on the Sunday of Conference. We also have two emergency motion slots on Monday and Tuesday. Details are on page 6 of the agenda, but the deadline for submission is this Monday at 1pm so you’ll need to get moving if you have an emergency motion you want to submit! It’s also possible to submit amendments to existing motions if you do not think they go far enough. (Unfortunately, the drafting advice deadline for motions and amendments has already passed.)

    There has been some debate within the party on how much we should focus on the here and now with Brexit versus what our post-Remain/post-Leave policies on the topic would look like. How much of that gets debated may well depend on the quality of motions and amendments received by the committee – FCC can’t select something if it hasn’t been submitted, so please do get writing!

    We do also need to ensure that there is sufficient time to debate general ongoing policy development, as delays to this can be very disruptive. Federal Policy Committee has only just caught up after the 2017 General put a number of working groups on hold. A number of members have said they think the party has focused on Brexit too much to the exclusion of other liberal policies and the committee also needs to balance those views against those who want to talk about the EU.

    On the “five key issues” idea, that would be something that feeds into the manifesto generation process. The motion ” Ambitious for our Country, Ambitious for our Party: Liberal Democrat Party Strategy” was debated in Spring and set the general tone that is likely to be used by Federal Policy Committee in drafting a manifesto should a snap GE occur.

  • David Becket 29th Aug '19 - 11:33am

    @ James Baillie
    I should have left F10 in, but I did comment that it was not robust enough.

  • ‘With the terrible twins Johnson and Cummings in charge, this country is in the most dangerous situation since the start of World War Two’ … oh for goodness sake, that is total utter histrionic nonsense!
    The excessive Proroguing is wrong, and a major error, as it has enabled fundamentally anti democratic groups who want to block the Brexit referendum result whatever, to portray themselves as some kind of defender of democracy, when they are sadly anything but. We are in this situation because there are enough MPs who will block any result where the UK leaves the EU, despite many of them previously promising to uphold the ref result.

  • William Fowler 29th Aug '19 - 11:41am

    Tories will be hammering on about how no-deal Brexit will enable much lower taxes once things have settled down, LibDems need to show the benefits of staying in or quickly rejoining the EU and how they are going to mitigate the disadvantages – vague promises of reform will be laughed out of court.

  • Alisdair McGregor 29th Aug '19 - 11:41am

    I am a member of both Federal Policy Committee (directly elected) and Federal Conference Committee (English Party Rep).

    There idea that either of these committees haven’t given due thought to the political context and the opinions of the parliamentary parties is complete nonsense. Both committees have representatives from the Federal Campaigns and Elections Cmte, the Parliamentary Parties (Lords, Commons and European), the State Parties and we receive regular input from all of these groups and more besides!

    It is a total and complete nonsense to suggest scrapping half the agenda, when what we need is a fully formed policy agenda that we can build a manifesto on.

    We are not a single issue party and we do not need a single issue conference!

  • Brian Edmonds 29th Aug '19 - 11:47am

    Nick Barlow: “let’s abolish our own internal democracy and just allow MPs to declare whatever they want to be party policy”. No one said that – just give us some big, inspiring ideas to vote for.

  • @James Baillie “Other than the rally and the leader’s speech, frankly the press never have taken and never will take all that much of an interest in the minutiae of conference.”

    Unless there is some plan to derail the leadership’s preferred direction, when that becomes the story.

    “Conference is fundamentally not a party political broadcast, it’s a decision-making body, and TCO’s call for responding to a threat to Britain’s democracy with the effective prorogation of our own party democracy”

    Conference is an unrepresentative and self-selecting small subset of the overall party membership. About 1% I would guess. It may offer a simulacrum of democracy but any rigorous scrutiny shows it to be anything but. The 99% of party members who don’t go to conference are disenfranchised, so less of the faux outrage please.

    What we need fundamentally is to get behind our leader – she at least had the backing of a majority of voters in the leadership election and a substantial minority of total party members, so has far more of a democratic mandate than anythign Conference comes up with.

  • Adam Pritchard 29th Aug '19 - 1:24pm

    F10 on poverty is an absolute stunner of a policy motion and am sure paper. I’ll defend it to my dying breath.

  • Alisdair McGregor 29th Aug '19 - 1:38pm

    @TCO: You know, “The Leadership’s preferred direction” isn’t something we have to slavishly obey. We’re a Liberal Party. Conference, not the Leader’s Office, is the sovereign policy-making body of the Party.

  • Sue Sutherland 29th Aug '19 - 1:44pm

    Conference paper ‘A Fairer Share for All’ gives members the opportunity to say how they would make life better for people if we manage to stop Brexit. Unfortunately at the moment the paper falls short of this and needs amending. We also need a clarion call similar to Bollocks to Brexit.
    There are decent people who voted Leave who are being persuaded by the media and Boris’s lot that we are the dictators seeking to overturn their democratic decision. It’s not enough to rail against this. We need to show them why we are doing this and what’s in it for them. We believe Brexit will make their lives worse and we must show them what we will do to change things.
    Conference will be the start of our General Election campaign, let’s make it a barnstormer.

  • James Baillie 29th Aug '19 - 1:51pm

    Really? As someone who piloted an amendment through last Autumn conference against the leadership’s preferred direction, I can confirm it got absolutely zero coverage whatsoever. I can’t help but feel TCO is being thoroughly unrealistic with your expectations of how much the media circus care about policy details, and that’s speaking as someone who cares a very great deal about them.

    I agree that there are issues with conference being unrepresentative, but the fact is that it’s our decision-making body, that’s how we’re constituted. I also think there are issues with parliament being unrepresentative, with little more than 1% of the population getting to be swing voters in target seats, and I’m still duly outraged at that being prorogued. Not wanting your decision-making bodies to be prevented from making decisions doesn’t imply an endorsement of their current workings.

    Final point, I’m not in politics to just “get behind the leader”, I’m in politics because I’m a liberal who wants to see liberal policies that will help people enacted. Where that requires fighting Jo’s corner, as it often will, I will do that, and where it requires proposing changes of policy I will do that. I am a member of this party, not a supporter of a fan club, and I have no plans to be disarmed or infantilised by people telling be to become a chanting “get behind the leader” drone. If people want a party where that’s all that is required of them, then other options are available.

  • Zoe O'connell 29th Aug '19 - 2:04pm

    In the last 10 years, the party has held two all-member elections for a new leader. (2015 and 2019)

    In that same period, the federal committees have held four sets of elections (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016) with another set due this year.

    So it’s simply not true the output of the Federal Committees, further approved by Conference, is less democratic than the leader’s views. Frustrating though they find conference, I very much doubt any of our elected leaders would disagree with that.

  • Geoff Payne 29th Aug '19 - 3:14pm

    This is a very interesting thread. As a member of FPC and as chair of FCC, I can say that Alisdair is right and each of the committees has been thinking very carefully about what, if anything, should happen to conference depending on what happens in the coming days. So has the Federal Board which is the one committee that is entitled to cancel conference if it wishes. Clearing the agenda is one option that has been considered but it is not as easy than it sounds. A suspension of Standing Orders requires a two-thirds majority and therefore considerable agreement over what should be removed and what should be debated in its place. The thread above suggests to me that there is not that unity. Zoe is correct to say that discussion papers cannot be prepared overnight. And, for rightly or wrongly, under the conference Standing Orders, motions can only be added to the agenda if they were submitted by the deadline, rejected and then appealed. I do not see our agenda as pandering to our pet issues – papers on economic fairness and crime and policing are very topical – and can be debated by conference and made more or less radical as people wish. It seems to me that this is a time where we can really celebrate that we have a conference where policies are decided by members after a full debate. We can achieve a clear message on what we will do about Brexit in the Europe motion that we will be selecting the weekend after next. As ever, all of the items on our agenda can be amended – I hope, in the light of this thread, that we will receive some interesting and radical ones!

  • Paul Barker 29th Aug '19 - 3:43pm

    Conference is our major decision-taking body & our biggest opportunity to attract The Publics attention, the balance between those 2 functions shifts from Year to Year but this Year is anything but normal. This Crisis is a Once-in-a-Lifetime event.
    In recent Years we have had the luxury of being ignored but this time will be very different. There will be a few people in The Media looking for positive stories from our Conference & a lot searching for opportunities to make us look ridiculous or smug.
    Self-indulgent events like the annual Boycott of The Leaders Speech or Glee club are open invitations to our Enemies, who are Legion.
    Britain & British Democracy are facing an Existential Crisis & Our Party is its first line of Defence. Lets behave with at least the same Seriousness that Our Enemies show.

  • Geoffrey Dron 29th Aug '19 - 4:15pm

    @TCO/Lorenzo – certainly people like me who have jumped ship from SS Tory and rowing boat Labour and are in the lifeboats need to know whether we should clamber on board MV LibDem.

    Try setting up local open forums.

    It’s urgent, ‘cos with Ruth Davidson’s departure the Union’s in danger. this goes beyond party. Can Jo fill the gap?

  • Geoffrey Dron 29th Aug '19 - 4:39pm

    @Paul Barker –

    Brexit has left politicians and voters wondering which country has survived the binary choice of remain or leave. Once, when Theresa May claimed she was putting the country first, she meant Tory, leave-voting England. Only at the end did she try to address the future – the country that will emerge after Brexit – by engaging at last with all the parties.

    On Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn, was at it too. Signalling his readiness to back a cross-party bid to stop a no-deal Brexit, he also claimed to be putting the country first, which was unexpected news for his critics who thought control of his party was his only serious aim.

  • Mick Taylor 29th Aug '19 - 7:56pm

    Whilst I mostly agree with Alisdair McGregor, it is quite amusing to see him in the position of defending the stars quo!
    Geoffrey Dron. The union has been in danger for years. It is far more threatened by Brexit than the resignation of Ruth Davidson. Your obsession with Corbyn is blinding you to the realities of the situation. We can chuck out a government every five years but once we’re out of the EU then it could take a lot longer to put our country back together again and I would say it’s inevitable in those circumstances that both Scotland and Northern Ireland will leave the UK and seek to stay in the EU leaving England (and maybe Wales, but I’m not certain) on its own.
    A far more worrying prospect than a short tern stint in no 10 for Corbyn if that can get us out of the current mess.

  • David Becket 29th Aug '19 - 10:24pm

    Thank you for the response. I am encouraged by comments such as ‘With the other parties in disarray, we miss this chance at our peril. “ and “just give us some big, inspiring ideas to vote for”. However comments such as “I doubt if the ponderous Party structures will be nimble enough however” as well as the view that this is not how it is done fill me with despair. The input from Geoff Payne indicates a way forward is possible, though it would be difficult to amend Music Venues to make it relevant.
    Amendments must be clear and crisp, not full of words. “Lib Dems accept the Alston Report” would do fine for F10.
    We are now likely to face No Deal and a General Election. Our tactics must be spelt out. Johnson could win, which means five years of Patel, not a pretty sight.

  • * quite proud, as co-host of Glee and “organiser” of not the leader’s speech, to be proclaimed a self-indugent embarassment *

    If po-faced people who think that nobody should ever be allowed to let off steam think I’m an embarrassment I must be doing SOMETHING right 🙂

  • James Baillie 29th Aug '19 - 11:51pm

    David: I think that trying to make policy motions short and sharp still won’t help a great deal. If we want to get punch on a publicity front out of conference, then the key things are that a) we get some strong amendments (Geoff P can be reassured that he’s going to get some submission on that front tomorrow) and that b) the party publicises the resulting policy effectively and publicises good speeches made in favour of it. The media will for the most part not read policy motions directly and in full, however sharp we make them.

    If we want to publicise the results then what should be made is an effort led by the press office, with additional volunteers if any can be found, to produce snappy summaries and headline lines from whatever gets passed and fit them into a wider framework, in order to feed them to the press and social media and allow them to be incorporated into what our MPs are saying effectively. It would seem to me that rather than attempting to make conference “snappy” at a motions level, those who are reasonably concerned with us maximising electoral benefits should be thinking more about the interfaces between conference and the public and how we best game those, rather than worrying on the presentability of motion-level texts or the use of an hour on the programme for a music venues debate?

  • Oh yes, I also, with my FCC hat on, was very much in favour of the inclusion of the music venues motion on the agenda, precisely BECAUSE it’s the sort of thing that lots of people think is pointless/useless, but to the people it matters to it matters enormously, and nobody on mainstream politics is talking to those people, and we should be.

  • Geoffrey Dron 30th Aug '19 - 1:23am

    @Mick Taylor – RD’s departure has removed an important prop and the likely demise of all but a tiny residue of the Unionist parties in Scotland at the next GE will be one result of the undoing of her work by the English Brexiters.

    As to Corbyn, he’s a danger to national security. Not only shouldn’t he be given any degree of credibility but he shouldn’t be allowed near intelligence-related or other sensitive material for any length of time except insofar as he has perforce access thereto as a privy councillor.

  • Alisdair McGregor 30th Aug '19 - 1:34am

    @Mick Taylor: The status quo I am defending is a Liberal one where Conference makes policy and the committee members elected by ordinary members get to make decisions that matter, so I think I’m ok 🙂

  • Alisdair McGregor 30th Aug '19 - 1:38am

    @Geoffrey Dron: The potential for a collapse in the Tory vote in Scotland has been pretty much a given since Theresa May bribed the DUP a few years back but refused to include the money into the Barnett formula, which basically denied Scotland money from the Barnett consequentials.

    That was in essence selling the Scottish Tories down the river.

    Their collapse is a golden opportunity for us to seize the initiative in Scotland. Ruth Davidson’s resignation should be seen by us as an opportunity, not a calamity.

  • Geoffrey Dron 30th Aug '19 - 1:56am

    @Alisdair McGregor – if the LibDems can replace the Scottish Tories as the bulwark of Unionism in Scotland, that’s OK by me. It’s a big if, but, with Scots Labour under a useless Corbynite leader, maybe…

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Aug '19 - 1:58am


    I would say left libertarians. Liberals on much, democrats sometimes maybe, but nothing of the Harm principle in not going to jail for carrying acid.

  • Adam Pritchard,

    I checked you were not a member of the working group on “A Fairer Share for All” F10. Please can you post your defence of the policy on the thread where it has been criticised – https://www.libdemvoice.org/a-fairer-share-for-all-a-missed-opportunity-61845.html

    James Baille,

    Please can you say what number amendment to what policy you got through conference against the leadership’s preferred direction?

  • Geoffrey Dron 30th Aug '19 - 4:19am

    Alisdair McGregor

    I tend to agree with the author of this NS article:


    Prove him and me wrong.

  • Perhaps there should be a motion on venues
    LD Con Lab Green UKIP/Brexit
    2015 Bournemouth Manchester Brighton Bournemouth Doncaster
    2016 Brighton Birmingham Liverpool Birmingham Bournemouth
    2017 Bournemouth Manchester Brighton Harrogate Torquay
    2018 Brighton Birmingham Liverpool Bristol Birmingham
    2019 Bournemouth Manchester Brighton Newport Mobile

    Why is our autumn conference limited to a 100 mile stretch of the south coast? Travelling south of London by public transport is not the easiest (and, yes, the Spring Conference does tend to be in the north but it’s not the same).

  • @pmknowles: “Perhaps there should be a motion on venues”

    Yes, the settling of Conference around three regular venues (Bournemouth, Brighton and York) is not ideal, and I’m sure Federal Conference Committee wrestles with this every year. I guess it’s not easy finding venues that can cope with the demands of our party conference, especially given that anyone can register so FCC cannot control the numbers or even predict them with confidence.

    If you think you can do better (and of course it’s quite possibly you can!), then you can stand for FCC this autumn and be directly involved in that decision for future years.

    And of course you can also approach FCC members with your ideas after the election.

  • David Becket 30th Aug '19 - 12:55pm

    Directory and Agenda arrived today, wrapped in1320 sq cm of plastic. (twice what was needed). Green credentials out the window

  • Alisdair McGregor 30th Aug '19 - 1:16pm

    @David Beckett is green credentials are your concern you should have selected the Green Option at registration (which is also cheaper) & either downloaded the PDFs from the website or used the conference smartphone app to access the paperwork.

    The paper and packaging are entirely on you for not choosing that route.

  • Peter Hirst 30th Aug '19 - 1:31pm

    We certainly need to appear relevant to present issues while discussing other important policies. Delaying the timeline for emergency motions and voting on them immediately prior to their slot will help keep them relevant. There is ample time for anything other than extreme events in speeches, Q&As and debates. Perhaps we could introduce the option of statements by parliamentarians, say 5 minutes in response to immediate events.

  • Mick Taylor 30th Aug '19 - 2:20pm

    Geoffrey Dron. We live in (a sort of) democracy, where we don’t and never have laid down rules about who can and cannot be Prime Minister. It is a dangerous road to go down in a democracy to start saying such and such a body can’t be PM for whatever reason, other than criminality resulting in prison.
    As I said before, the government in our country is a group that can command the support of the House of Commons. If a situation arose where that group was a Labour-led GNU and its leader was Corbyn then there is no legal reason why Corbyn should not become PM. You might not like it but in terms of our democracy and constitution that would be the right way forward.
    The reality is that it seems unlikely that such a Labour led GNU can be put together, because of the need to attract support from remainers, principally those in the Tory Party.
    As I understand it, our leader has said we would support a VONC and if Corbyn could get a majority for a coalition led by him we would bite the bullet and work for an end to Brexit via a General Election and/or referendum. If , as seems likely, he cannot get a VOC, then we would support another interim government led by the likes of Clarke on Harman with the same end in mind.
    We have had PMs with views I abhor before and survived. Many in the Tory Party argued that Labour in 1945 were a danger to national security with their socialist programme, but the UK survived and 6 years later elected a new Tory Government which did almost nothing to reverse the reforms of the Attlee years. But ask yourself this: is a Corbyn led GNU worse for Britain than the current Johnson administration? My answer would be a resounding no.Sure if you sup with the devil you need a long spoon, but a no deal Brexit will spell disaster for the UK and we have to do everything in our power to prevent it. Even working with Jeremy Corbyn

  • Mick Taylor 30th Aug '19 - 2:26pm

    Alisdair McGregor. I was gently teasing you as a member of the awkward squad in settling in as a defender of any status quo whatever.

  • David Becket 30th Aug '19 - 2:59pm

    @Alisdair McGregor
    Fair point, and I do take the policy papers on line.
    However if I print the PDF I print 83 A4 pages with only half of each sheet used.
    The Agenda on a smart phone is not searchable, so of limited use

  • Zoe O'connell 30th Aug '19 - 3:33pm

    @pmknowles – Geoff has listed the requirements for a LibDem conference venue (Both Spring and Autumn) in his report to conference, and we’re open to suggestions but so far we haven’t found much else that fits the bill and isn’t way to expensive.

    We have slightly different requirements from the Tories and Labour, both of whom need smaller halls and larger exhibition areas. The smaller hall because they do not allow everyone – not even all members – into the auditorium. The larger exhibition area because they get more money from commercial interests and unions exhibiting. That, unfortunately, rules out Manchester, Birmingham and (for now, but it’s more of a marginal case last I looked) Liverpool as although we could set them up appropriately it would cost significantly more.

    Green, UKIP and Brexit conferences aren’t on anything like the kind of scale that the main three UK parties are.

  • @TCO – “Conference is an unrepresentative and self-selecting small subset of the overall party membership. About 1% I would guess. It may offer a simulacrum of democracy but any rigorous scrutiny shows it to be anything but. The 99% of party members who don’t go to conference are disenfranchised, so less of the faux outrage please.”

    ^^^^^^^^ This ^^^^^^^^^^

    Why, in this day and age, does not the party not:

    A) Publicise widely to all members that they can follow conference debates online?
    B) Provide an ability for members who can’t attend to vote on motions online?

    The fact that a large percentage of members are unable to attend Conference for time or cost reasons should not disenfranchise them from policy and decision making.

  • Geoffrey Dron 30th Aug '19 - 5:11pm

    @Mick Taylor – my answer to your question is an equally resounding ‘yes’.

    Fortunately, the question is likely to be an academic one. If it becomes real, maybe restricting JC’s access to classified material might be put in place.

    However, it’s now clear that JC is trying to foment a streets-revolution. If it gets underway, it’ll need to be crushed by force if necessary. If that’s going on, a JC premiership isn’t even a remote possibility.

    I’m glad that Jo has joined in the litigation. I suspect that the Supreme Court will have to hear the appeals in the Scottish and English and that it’ll be difficult to assemble the full court before early Oct., especially if you include time for preparation. Injunction/interdict will have to be applied to prevent BoJo/Cummings pre-empting the decision.

    I’m a little bit more hopeful of a GE in early-mid Oct., than before.

  • Toby and Zoe
    Well we went to The Sage at Gateshead in 2012 (which seems to have worked well) and have never been back. My real issue is that the Autumn Conference is always Brighton or Bournemouth. With Southport, York, Gateshead, Brighton and Bournemouth as recent venues it should be possible to rotate them. Bear in mind too that the hubs for BBC and ITV are now in Manchester and Channel 4 is moving to Leeds so a more northern focus wouldn’t go amiss.

  • I’m astonished. Dozens of people saying Jeremy Corbyn should not be PM (even temporarily) because he is not trustworthy, but compared to Boris Johnson?????

  • Katharine Pindar 30th Aug '19 - 11:37pm

    While our internal democracy is a lot better than that of the other two main parties – OMOV, extensive consultation on working-group papers, and plenty of chances for people at the Conference to speak if they have something relevant to say to a motion – it is always worth considering again how members unable to get to Conference may be able to participate. Perhaps, at least, topical and emergency motions should be publicised to members through Facebook and LDV as soon as the subjects are known.

    I hope there will be an emergency motion proposed this year on parliamentary sovereignty, in view of the PM’s outrageous attempt to curtail debate there through prorogation, in order to achieve an enforced Brexit on October 31st. This is reminiscent of, but much worse than, Theresa May’s attempt to by-pass Parliament which was stopped by Gina Miller’s action in the courts. The primacy of Parliament over the Executive has been challenged again, and though we trust this challenge will be met in the Houses next week (less certainly in the courts, because Johnson has cunningly left a fig-leaf of legitimacy over his treacherous action), surely it is time for our party vigorously to assert the democratic principle. After that I suppose we need a constitutional convention to have it settled for ever, and to reform the voting system and the House of Lords as well.

  • @Martin – I don’t accept your first argument. How do you know those physically present have listened to all sides? How do you know that haven’t arrived with closed minds, or aren’t nodding off or checking Twitter?

    I think it’s a bit insulting to suggest that those who can’t attend Conference would be less engaged in the debates.

    I voted online for Party Leader without physically attending a hustings……

  • @Martin – to start with, the Party should publicise widely that Conference is live streamed. I had to spend a lot of time searching until I found a link to watch the last conference. The party should email all members and have a prominent link on the web site.

    I don’t think it’s LDV’s job to do polling for Conference – LDV is notionally independent of the Party organisation. However the Party used online voting for the Leadership election so could that system be used for Conference debates? I don’t know what it cost or how much management resource it needed, but I think it’s worth investing in something that increases engagement with ordinary members.

    We say we have OMOV, but actually we have One Conference Attendee, One Vote which means policy getting passed because a few hundred voted for it.

  • Zoe O'connell 31st Aug '19 - 8:44pm

    @pmknowles Newcastle Gateshead is probably my favourite conference venue – close run between that an Liverpool – and I know I’m not alone on FCC in thinking that. But it’s a really expensive venue for us to go to, unfortunately, and only large enough for a spring conference rather than the larger autumn ones.

    @Katharine Pindar FCC has looked at remote voting, but nobody has ever tried this at a political conference of any size before. We’d like a region to take on trialling it for their conference first if possible, before we get into wider discussions about how/if we’d make it work for federal conference. If your region might be keen, please do ask the regional conference chair to get in touch.

  • Mick Taylor 31st Aug '19 - 9:48pm

    Geoffrey Dron. You say you are toying with joining the Lib Dems. My advice is, don’t. You are not a Liberal Democrat.

  • I normally never respond directly to other comments, I think it ruins threads but I have to comment on Mick Taylors advice to Geoffrey Dron NOT to join us. We need more members & there was nothing in Geoffrey Drons posts that was incompatible with Liberalism.
    We are utterly opposed to the use of Political Violence & to those irresponsible Politicians like Corbyn, Farage & Johnson who encourage it. Corbyns whole Political life has been based on playing with ideas of Revolution & mixing with “Men of Violence”.
    My message to Geoffrey Dron would be “come on in, the waters lovely.”

  • Geoffrey Dron 1st Sep '19 - 12:38am

    @Paul Barker – I’m obliged, because I regard myself as operating within the framework of JS Mill’s philosophy as applicable in the 21st century. There’s a wide space in the centre of UK politics of which this could be said. The HR Convention was largely drafted by an English Tory lawyer. The formation of NATO (a bete noir of Corbyn) was down to a great Labour Foreign Secretary who knew that liberty has to be defended.

    BTW, for the avoidance of doubt, I’m not criticising the current protests, which are justified and well within Art.11 of the Convention. My concern is over how the more extreme Momentumites would be prepared to develop them.

    On membership, I’ll make my mind up when I see the manifesto for the coming GE.

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