I've seen a couple of online references to the attempt by some opponents of the NHS reforms to have their emergency motion debated by Conference. The reason it was turned down was because our rules say that we can't debate the same issue in successive years. That's fine when we're in opposition, but not when we're in Government and things are changing all the time. The NHS issue has moved on since it was debated in March. The NHS Bill before the House of Lords is not the same bill but there are still concerns with it.
Personally, I think that the Federal Conference Committee are being way to cautious on this. I think that they should have allowed the debate to happen.
There will be an attempt to suspend standing orders to have the issue debated properly this afternoon - immediately after the opening of Conference, so I understand. So my advice would be to get a ringside seat in the hall as early as you can.
If I were there, I would probably vote for the suspension of standing orders, not out of awkwardness, or militancy - but just because this is a legitimate attempt by sensible people to look again at changed legislation in changed circumstances.
Federal Conference Committee allocated a slot for a discussion rather than a debate. Some representatives understandably feel that this denies their policy making rights. I get how they feel. In Scotland, when Conference wanted to discuss similarly controversial matters when we were in coalition with Labour, our Conference Committee generally felt that to supress debate would just be counter-productive. In reality, though, what would happen is that we'd pass policies that the ministers ignored when it suited them, but at least we got our say.
If Conference is given its head, it's more likely to use its brain.
I've heard some comments about the place that those who are planning to suspend standing orders are being militant or behaving like students and generally stopping us from being a grown up party.
This is Evan Harris and Shirley Williams we're talking about. Not Derek Hatton and Arthur Scargill.
Can we just take the temperature down a bit, please, and have a sensible discussion?