Nothing will stop me looking forward to the first Federal Conference I've attended in 12 years, but I can't describe to you how uncomfortable and physically sick it made me feel to receive an e-mail the other day which said:
we have received information from Greater Manchester Police that you have been successfully accredited for the upcoming Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference 2011. Your conference pass will be posted to you in September.What business is it of the Police's that I attend my own Party's conference when there is airport style security scanners outside? This is way over the top and it's an absolute scandal that our Federal Conference Committee has rather meekly acquiesced to the demands of the Police.
I just feel that my relationship with the Police which until now has been one of respect has now become a bit oppressive, one where somebody in a police station in Manchester has final say over the extent of my political activity.
I've been cleared to go but I've become aware that several people, over the last few days, have been told that they have failed. They include fairly well known activists. I'm sure it won't thrill the FCC that some of these people have been a pain in the backside to successive leaders. Their exclusion validates all we were saying way back in June about the iniquity of the new system and adds weight to David Grace's motion against it, being discussed at 9am on the Sunday morning of Conference. Unfortunately, I can't be there to vote for it, but I'm hoping that at least one of you will forego your night's drinking and get up and do so in my place.
If you have been told you have failed accreditation, please let me know, privately if you want. I want to get a clear idea about how widespread this is.
Even if it's cock up, which I suspect, rather than conspiracy, it shows up the flaws in the system.
The challenge to FCC is how they will act now some people have been turned down. Will they show the resolve that we require of them?
They are all up for re-election this year and it is to be hoped that those elections will be contested by people who will not put up with these draconian and unnecessary restrictions on our liberty. If a liberal party doesn't stand up against them, who on earth will?