As Michael blogged earlier registration for Autumn conference has now opened.
As is laid out in our parties constitution:
Article 6: The Federal Conference
6.1 The conference will consist of
(a) Representatives of Local Parties…
6.3 Representatives of Local Parties shall be elected by all members of the Local Party concerned…
As one of the four the local party elected that way last year I am duly honoured, and booked my hotel and flight to Birmingham months ago. I was just waiting for registration to be opened (I’d missed the deadline for dual registration) and also to know my conference status before applying. The earliest discount period runs out on 10th June giving people less than 10 days from when it was announced to apply, I expect a rush.
This year we all have to submit a new photograph. Mine was a new one only last year I believe! We also have to provide more information to the police not in the West Midlands, but in Greater Manchester to verify. This is more information than I think I had to provide to work at Stormont pre-devolution, it is also more than I recently provided to open a bank account. All because as Michael said I’m going to go for the lively policy debate –especially seeking to keep the Parliamentary Party in check, the networking opportunities keeping up old ones and developing new ones, plus the Wide Variety of fringe events. Also because as my friend Caron has said of the new “more comprehensive security pass application”:
“do I want the policy of my party to be decided by people who think this sort of stuff is ok? That would just rip the heart and soul out of the party”
The answer of course is no! So I’m hoping to be heading off to Birmingham and have now jumped through all the hoops I have to, just now need to see where I land.
I’ve also put up with the somewhat illiberal way I’ve had to had over details to a police force and any other it would seem for perpetuity for future conferences despite my personal, and I thought party’s, stance against the ID card police state. It is now in the police’s hands whether I get accreditation not the members of the local party who voted for me to be their rep.
Being of course Northern Irish does throw up a couple of additional concerns that I may not be able to attend.
The first form of ID that was requested was my passport number. I thought which one? I’m not alone in this Island of being one of those with more than one. Though I need not have worried as soon as I entered one it bounced up the question do I have a second one. So that is me flagged as a Republican, my fate might be in the hands of a dissident group after all this.
Of course the fact that I am applying for a Northern Irish Local Party may cause eyebrows to be raised. After all you will not find reference to our local party number 900 on the Lib Dem Federal website. Go on try to but in the postcode for Parliament Buildings at Stormont BT4 3XX into the find your local party finder on the home page. Or scroll to the bottom of that page and click on the link to Northern Ireland, do you end up here at Lib Dems NI or here at the Alliance Party? This is something the local party exec have raised with the powers that be and we will be raising it again as a matter of urgency.
So the possibility is that as local party number 900 (Northern Ireland) somehow does not seem to exist on the party’s own website some over officious bobby may create “the unlikely event that [my] accreditation is unsuccessful” despite me being elected by you, a frequent voting rep in the past, having now paid for flights, accommodation and conference fees.
I just hope we don’t have a Orwellian thought police sanction imposed at future Lib Dem conferences, we like our debate but the hall would end up empty.
Update There is now a petition to keep Liberal Democrat Conference Liberal please go and sign it.