Liberal Democrat Special Conference – …and its amendments

May 17, 2010

in Opinion

I was already booked to attend another conference this weekend, so was unable to attend the Liberal Democrat Special Conference in Birmingham this weekend. Just reading through all the coverage of it, especially on Twitter and over at Lib Dem Voice, no-one really mentions all the amendments that were passed into the main motion, some of which are very interesting. However I may feel about the coalition, given the wide range of subjects and movers, the Lib Dems are far more democratic than Labour or the Conservatives.

To what extent it is actually of any use to “affirm” commitments to scrapping tuition fees when the coalition agreement that was approved by the same motion explicitly states that Liberal Democrat MPs and peers shall abstain on the issue on tuition fees if the Browne Review recommends raising the cap (which it will almost certainly do) is debatable. Similarly, affirming a commitment to LGBT equality is all very well but what does that actually mean when the minister for equality, presumably approved by Nick Clegg, has voted against LGBT rights whenever she can? I guess coalitions take us into strange territory. I hope that our leadership, and government, as I suppose we must now call them, will not ignore the amendments to this motion.

All the amendment can all be found in the Conference Extra document that was put out today, but I include them below:

Amendment 1
Moved by: Evan Harris
Supported by 14 conference representatives

“Conference notes that negotiations with the Labour party were not fruitful, despite the best endeavours and good faith of the Liberal Democrat negotiating team, because many in the Labour Party did not wish to participate in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats or to continue in government; and that therefore it was not possible to form a stable administration with the Labour Party.

Conference further notes that a stable coalition with the Conservatives with a clear partnership agreement has significant advantages for the country, for the implementation of progressive policies and for the creation of a more cooperative style of politics compared to the remaining option of a minority Conservative administration.”

Amendment 2
Moved by: David Grace
Supported by 15 conference representatives

“Conference recognises that party members in government and in parliament will be bound by the usual conventions and by the terms of this agreement but declares that the Liberal Democrats remain an independent political party and that nothing in this agreement prevents the party from developing new policy through it’s democratic processes.”

Amendment 3
Moved by: James Graham
Supported by 23 conference representatives

“Conference calls for Liberal Democrats to work constructively in government to ensure that the net income and wealth inequality gap is reduced significantly over the course of this parliament.”

Amendment 4
Moved by: Liberal Youth

“Conference notes that many Liberal Democrat MPs signed the NUS ‘vote for students’ pledge against any real terms rise in the tuition fee cap. Conference calls upon Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs to ensure that on any decision made on Lord Browne’s report on higher education funding, they above all else take into account the impact on student debt. Conference affirms the Liberal Democrat objective of scrapping tuition fees.”

Amendment 5
Moved by: David Matthewman
Supported by 10 conference representatives

“Conference urges Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs to take all possible steps to ensure the repeal of those sections of the Digital Economy Act 2010 which are inconsistent with policy motion Freedom, Creativity and the Internet as passed at Spring Conference 2010.”

Amendment 6
Moved by: Jo Shaw
Supported by 10 conference representatives

“Conference also calls on Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs, in line with the Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment to protect the Human Rights Act 1998, to oppose moves by any party or individual towards repeal of this act.”

Amendment 7
Moved by: Dave Page
Supported by DELGA

“Conference reaffirms the party’s long-standing and unparalleled commitment to matters relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality.”

Amendment 8
Moved by: David Wright
Supported by Harlow Local Party

“Conference calls on Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs to seek to include proportional representation for local government elections in England and Wales as apart of the political reform programme of the coalition government.”

Amendment 9
Moved by: David Rendel
Supported by Newbury Local Party

“Conference regrets that it proved impossible to agree the introduction of a system of proportional representation for elections to the House of Commons, and reaffirms the party’s long-standing commitment to the introduction of such a system.”

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Terry S May 17, 2010 at 11:04 am

I am extremely unhappy that no amendment was passed at the conference calling for the party to oppose any moves to repeal the Hunting Act. Any attempt by the Conservatives, and hence by the Coalition, to repeal the Act and re-legalise fox hunting and hare coursing will be an extremely regressive move. I am going to be furious if I discover that I have been misled into putting in place a government that supports the vile cruelty of hunting.

I live in a West Country constituency that is a very tight Lib Dem/Conservative marginal and one of the reasons I voted Lib Dem is because I strongly support the hunting ban and wanted to stop the Conservatives repealing the Hunting Act (the sitting Lib Dem MP won, hooray!). I have always been told that the banning of hunting is Lib Dem policy and I recently saw a YouTube video of Nick Clegg stating that he would oppose any attempt to repeal the Act, but that was before this coalition deal. Can I and my family, as Lib Dem voters, trust Mr Clegg not to kowtow to the Conservatives on this issue? If he allows the Conservatives to re-legalise hunting then I’m sorry but I will not be voting Lib Dem again.

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sarah May 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I don’t know. I’m not a massive fan of ripping animals to shreds, but the law was forced through by Labour party activists to piss off the Tories. It seems to me that our current animal cruelty legislation *should* be sufficient to deal with it without a law which has proven extremely unpopular with a large section of our population and has galvanised numerous people to swing behind the Tories.

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