Wednesday, May 12, 2010

+++Breaking News - Special Conference Details

I've just had this e-mail from party President Baroness Ros Scott at about the time when I was considering writing a blogpost on how well the great and the good had kept the party informed and consulted throughout the process. Obviously you can't send out detailed reports of negotiations, but I've had several e-mails over the past few days to keep me informed.

Even though constitutionally we don't need to, the party has decided to hold a special conference on Sunday in Birmingham at the NEC to discuss the coalition deal. Here are the details:

"Dear Caron,

You will have seen from the news that the party’s Federal Executive and parliamentary party yesterday approved the coalition agreement negotiated with the Conservative Party.

Both bodies endorsed it overwhelmingly, by much more than a three-quarters majority. The provisions of the ‘triple lock’ procedure approved by conference in 1998 have therefore been satisfied, and there is no requirement for a special conference to endorse the agreement.

However, Liberal Democrats remain a democratic party, and we believe it right to consult our membership on this momentous occasion in our party’s history. The Federal Executive is therefore calling a special conference to take place on Sunday 16 May (1–5pm), in the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

The only item of debate on the agenda will be a motion to endorse the coalition agreement. Registration is now open for the conference, and I encourage all voting conference representatives to register online as soon as possible; online registration will be open until midnight on Friday 14 May. The more people who register in advance, the easier it will be for us to process them.

It will also be possible to register at the NEC in Birmingham, from 1400–2000 on Saturday 15 May, and from 0830 on Sunday 16 May. To speed up the registration process, it will only be possible to pay cash at the venue; if you wish to use a credit card, please register online before the end of Friday.

For the moment, registration is only open to voting conference reps – we want to make sure that we have enough space to accommodate all those voting reps who wish to attend. We expect that we will be able to open registration to other party members soon, but we need to judge the likely demand for the conference. We will send out another email as soon as we open registration to party members who are not voting reps.

The agenda for the conference will be finalised as soon as possible after the coalition agreement has been made public. It will be available on our special conference website later today.

This is a truly historic event, not just for the Liberal Democrats but for British politics. I hope you will take the opportunity to come to Birmingham, participate in conference and make your views known. I hope to see you there.

Baroness Ros Scott
President of the Liberal Democrats"

I feel that Holyrood MSPs and Ministers, when in Government, didn't always pay the attention it should to the Scottish Party - in fact, even when not in Government, things could sometimes be better, although there have been many improvements recently. I'm glad to see that, in contrast, the Federal Party is being respectful of the Party's structures and hope that this continues.

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