Sunday, 8 December 2013

Carry On Conference?

News reaches Liberator that the Federal Executive tomorrow (Monday) is being asked to support a proposal to reduce the Liberal Democrats' Spring Federal Conference to - well, precisely what is not exactly clear.

The good news for those who responded to the Autumn consultation - including the Federal Conference and Policy Committees who responded in favour of the status quo - is that the FE is being asked to reject not just the scrapping of Spring Conference entirely, but the idea of a one-day conference in London. That particular idea came under criticism for removing such income as the Party gets for fringe meetings while forcing those living away from the capital to shell out for its notoriously expensive hotel rooms in order to take part in the conference.  Moreover, the amount of time spent on fixed agenda items such as party business and a speech or two would render serious policy debate nigh on impossible.

Instead, the FE is asked to adopt a sort of compromise: a conference not starting until Saturday lunchtime but still finishing on the Sunday in time for a nice roast lunch.  (Remember: this is supposed to be an exercise in cutting costs, so how a two-half-day Conference is supposed to achieve this is unclear too). Some lip service is finally paid to providing online access to some Conference sessions including consultative sessions (an idea rejected on grounds of cost a mere six months ago).

There is also no news on the security costs highlighted in Liberator 362; nor of the request to the Federal Appeals Panel to rule on what constitutes a weekend. And neither is there any sign of the actual results of the consultation.

The question is: will the FE back what has to be presumed to be the overwhelming will of the party, and support Spring Conference for the training, policymaking, party accountability and networking session on which no value can be put?

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