Welsh Liberal Democrats come together virtually

Over 120 Welsh Lib Dem members joined our first ever virtual conference this weekend.

We welcomed Ed Davey virtually to Wales for his first Welsh conference where he spoke to us about the challenges facing the party and his burning desire that we as a nation must come out of this pandemic stronger than ever before.

This linked us nicely to our first policy motion: “Wales after COVID” which paid tribute to lives lost and calls for the dial on inequality in Wales to be reset with measures such as social care funding, universal free childcare, debt bonfires, green jobs and investment in housing.

We were then joined by Party President Mark Pack who spoke of how we need to campaign in the years to come, the changes the party is making both federally and in Wales and the exciting future we have in Wales with 16 and 17 year olds now able vote in Senedd elections from 2021 and in local government elections from 2022.

Our second policy motion of the day explored our ambitious plans to end homelessness and give everyone the right to a decent home. Folkert Veenstra and Cllr David Selby, both from Montgomeryshire, spoke with passion and eloquent testimony to the importance of addressing homelessness, as did fellow Powys Councillor Jackie Charlton along with Leena Farhat who spoke from the heart about her own experiences.

Jane Dodds gave her keynote speech at noon, which is available to watch on the party’s YouTube channel. In her speech Jane hailed the ground-breaking work of Kirsty Williams and the Welsh Lib Dems in education, where thanks to Kirsty, we have raised standards, cut class sizes, and made sure no child will go hungry this winter.

Jane also outlined what she described as the most radical proposal to the people of Wales since the founding of the Welfare State: “From this day forward, in everything we do, in every sphere we work for you, the wellbeing of the People and our Planet comes first. And we leave no one behind. With proper planning and policies we can eliminate homelessness, the need for food banks and for people to apply for benefits again and again.”

Jane also told us that Welsh Lib Dems will transition the economy to a vibrant, profitable Green Economy, with fairness at its heart. We will build a Better Wales for All, together.

Following a much needed screen break and a lunch, conference returned with more policy motions. First up was “The Vision for Wales in a Federal UK” where members spoke with both passion and conviction reaffirming the party’s long held views on a truly federal Britain where we work in equal partnership with other UK nations. Every member was in agreement that the current set up isn’t working for Wales, and the extreme opinions of those wanting to do away with devolution completely and those who want to break away from the UK don’t provide the answers either.

Next up was a Q&A session with Kirsty Williams, our very own Education Minister in the Welsh Government. Questions were asked (and answered!) on a range of topics, including the new Welsh curriculum and, of course, the impact of COVID on schools, colleges and universities. The Q&A also gave party members a chance to thank Kirsty following her announcement that she’s to stand down from the Senedd next year after serving the people of Brecon and Radnorshire for 22 years.

The final policy motion discussed our draft 2021 Senedd Manifesto. The motion lays the ground work for our most ambitious manifesto to date where Welsh Liberal Democrats will listen, will learn, and will work with the people of Wales to create a social contract which builds fairer, greener, more caring future for Wales.

We finished the conference with the traditional party reports where officers and committees report back to members and take questions on their work.

Whilst there is promising news on the horizon regarding a vaccine for COVID, it is looking increasingly likely that next years Spring Welsh Conference will be virtual too.

* Paul Harding is the Press and Media Officer of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

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One Comment

  • Paul Holmes 23rd Nov '20 - 9:45pm

    President Pack also spoke via Zoom to the East Midlands Region last Saturday, on the subject of campaigning lessons learned from Biden’s victory. He said these were that:
    1.We must project an image that our policy stance is in tune with the concerns of voters.
    2. We must have a good ground organisation (as in Georgia or Arizona for example).
    3. We must target effort into where it makes a difference. As in Biden didn’t visit California once since the Democrats were always going to win hands down there and ‘flipping’ a State like Georgia or Arizona by 13,000 or 20,000 votes was more valuable than just adding yet more votes to a huge lead in another State.

    My observation and question to Mark was that we already knew this and had practised it very successfully in the 3 successively record breaking General Election results of 1997, 2001 and 2005. So why did we progressively abandon these approaches over the last 10 years/ 3 GE’s culminating in the awful election of 2019 where large numbers of so called Target Seats had next to no ground organisation, no chance of winning and the unprecedentedly huge sums of money lavished on expensive commercial mailings from ‘the centre’ were wasted. Not least because the Revoke message did not resonate with most Remainers let alone most voters.

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