If you want to see more of the background, my previous posts on this are here and here.
On Friday, FCC Chair Andrew Wiseman responded to the concerns raised on Liberal Democrat Voice. I have to say that while I appreciate the fact that he did so, I'm not convinced by his remarks. He said that:
The police will carry out the accreditation process, as they do for other parties, but if this process does flag up any issues then these will come straight to myself as FCC Chair and the Chief Executive. It is explicit that we have the power to overrule the police – as I said, it is our conference. Can I guarantee now, in advance that whatever information is given us, we would never agree that a particular individual would pose such a severe personal security threat that for the safety of all our conference goers they should be excluded? Of course not – and I can just about conceive of circumstances in which there was very strong evidence relating to an individual that we might feel we had to take that view. But I think it unlikely this will happen, and you know how seriously we will approach any such decision.
What I'm not clear on is how that sits with:
Our insurers want to know that we act on police advice and if we do not we run the risk of invalidating our insurance. Without the necessary insurance no conference venue will accept our booking.So, just say, I was on a demo. I managed to get myself photographed next to someone the Police suspect of doing something unpleasant. I will most likely never even have spoken to this person, but it gives the police cause for concern, such that they recommend my exclusion from Conference. They are, after all, going to be cautious. If FCC ignore that advice, would it invalidate the insurance? Obviously I'm not going to do anything wrong, but say our set design people bang a lectern on the official mayoral rolls royce or something, might the insurance company refuse to pay on any claim if we hadn't accepted all police advice? Insurance companies are always on the look out for an excuse not to pay out, after all.
What right of appeal would I have, and would I be able to see and rebut any "evidence" against me? That's just not clear.
If the Police are unnecessarily vigilant, insurance companies take caution to levels between the sublime and the ridiculous. Health and safety advisers of my acquaintance tell me that the things which give their profession a bad name have nothing to do with legislation, or even Europe, but with the requirements and restrictions of insurance companies. These organisations are indirectly exerting unreasonable demands on our freedom to associate. We may well face a situation where a democratically elected voting representative is, against our constitution, ejected from conference, on the whim of the police or a large corporation. That is distinctly sinister.
The responses to Andrew Wiseman's post on LDV have been substantially against the new requirements. It is really important that they are reviewed and proper consultation takes place with party members.
I understand that complexities of the Federal Conference Committee's position, but I still believe that these measures will make nobody safer. There is an issue with the police retaining data, as well which Andrew Wiseman has accepted and is taking forward with the Police.
There are also issues for transgender people as Sarah points out. She's already suffered the stress of her previous identity being discovered, when it should not have been, by an organisation.
We're the party that stood up against ID cards, saying that they were ineffective, instrusive and expensive. We were right then. We should lay down markers as a party, provide evidence to the insurers and the police that what they are insisting upon is too much and resist implementing measures we consider too intrusive and unnecessary. We have to find some other solution.
Spidey is wanting us all to write to Nick Clegg and party president Tim Farron to ask them to call for a review. And if you haven't already, please sign the petition which now has over 200 signatures. You may also want to read this blogpost from Mark Thompson which says the party really needs to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.