miss_s_b: Peter Falk as Columbo saying "just one more thing" (Fangirling: Columbo)
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Robert's answers for FCC are here:

1, What ratio do you think is the ideal balance for keynote speeches, policy debates and Q&A sessions on the main stage at conference?
That should be based on the feedback from representatives. One thing that is essential is that we keep a good number of policy debates because one of our strengths is that reps decide our policy.

2, How do you plan to make conference more inclusive?
That word “inclusive” is open to a lot of different interpretations – inclusive for people with different disabilities, parents, different financial situations, ethnicities, gender issues, ages ???????? All of the above ?????????????????? I have already succeeded (with the help of others) in making Conference more inclusive for people with disabilities. On the other issues (except financial) I again think things improve each time. I do think we should look at the possibility of running a parallel on-line conference with links to and from the live one. However it would need a decent feasibility study to consider, for example, media or financial
implications

3, What is your favourite conference venue and why?
Liverpool, costs are lower, hotels are cheaper and infrastructure is good.

4, What is your opinion on the proposal to make conference one member, one vote?
It is one member one vote! Our reps are elected by a system which is as democratic as local branches and members choose to make it. Unfortunately some local branches don’t seem to encourage different people to be reps and that is partly related to your next question.

5, What would you do to make conference more affordable for the less well-off within our party?
The major cost is accommodation and maybe that could be helped where there are active local branches willing to provide beds for people? Perhaps it would be feasible to get the town’s accommodation bureaux to give details of caravan-type accommodation? I know that hotels seem to increase their prices (or at least don’t reduce them) when a political conference is occurring!

6, What is your opinion on the proposal to allow non-attending members to participate in conference - remote voting, speeches by skype, etc.?
I think all of these ideas are interesting but there are more issues than participation … would remote voting cause people to make their minds up in advance? – I hope not because the whole purpose of the debates is to sway opinion and provide additional ideas. Speeches by skype – again, interesting idea, but would that cause people not to bother to physically attend conference, thereby losing the Party a lot of revenue from commercial exhibitors and the media and denying charities and other lobbying organisations opportunities to inform us and influence our policies through fringe meetings?

7, How much consideration do you think FCC should give to avoiding embarassing our frontbench when it selects motions and amendments for debate?
None! (as at present!)

8, What are your views on whether outside experts should be allowed or encouraged to speak on the main stage?
If they are REAL experts and can provide additional information to help us to make good decisions and policies then they should be allowed

9, Where do you stand on conference security in general and accreditation in particular?
We have a duty of care to all representatives, visitors and staff so we must provide sensible security. Accreditation is very difficult to accept as it seems to impinge on many traditional Liberal and Liberal Democrat beliefs. The difficulty comes when we are told that there is a need for accreditation to ensure security. Even if we as a Party don’t believe that , there are other people involved, for example – a local Council will believe its Chief Constable and may refuse to put its staff and venues at (what it considers to be) risk, the same may well be true of hotels etc.

Having said that, I think we should do everything in our power to reduce the need for accreditation by anyone who feels particularly uncomfortable or threatened by the process. The difficulty with that being that someone who identifies themselves as requiring special treatment feels they run the risk of “leaks”. I was really moved (to tears) by an explanation of the extent of the problem from two representatives of the Trans community.

10, If elected, how do you plan to engage with the wider party?
As at present by using Facebook, etc also by attending Regional events.

11, Are you standing for any other committees, if so which ones, and if elected to more than one, how do you plan to divide your time?
As a wheelchair user I suppose I’m a sitting candidate – joking apart, YES I am also a candidate for Federal Executive and Federal Policy Committee. Time is not a problem for me – I don’t work and so am willing to do a lot for the Party – I live on a good train route to London, have a railcard and, if I do have to stay overnight can normally get a bargain deal at a Travelodge (maybe it’s my background but I try to avoid spending money!).



Robert's answers for FPC are here:

1. Which of the following activities do you consider the most dangerous and why?
- taking a single ecstasy tablet
- taking an advanced motorcycle riding test
- giving birth

Giving birth – you are creating another being who will develop to be outside your control – you don’t know whether the baby will become a saint or a sadist, whether they will help 1 or 2 or grow to slaughter millions. On a personal level you are writing a blank cheque with your finances and another with your emotions. Giving birth … or in fact conception … is totally unpredictable and changes your life for ever in unimaginable ways … and it is wonderful!

2, What four pledges would you put on the front of the next Lib Dem manifesto?
1. We will make the tax system fairer
2. We will make the welfare system fairer
3. We will make the education system fairer
4. We will make the political system fairer
Being a typical Lib Dem I want another one! We will be accountable!

3, A genie appears and tells you that you can remove one law and make one law; what would you remove from the statute book and what would you add to the statute book?
Hmmm, the law to remove is actually quite tricky … The easy answer is to say the law that allows the House of Lords to be unelected but I’ve spent about 20 minutes thinking about this and feel that something could be done about munitions manufacturing or something really important like that.

The law to create is also thought-provoking – making people who cheat their expenses suffer the same penalties as those who cheat benefits might be fun!

4, What balance should the committee give to the views of the leadership, the parliamentary panels and the membership in setting policy priorities?
I really don’t think the leadership are allowed much specific influence on priorities, by “membership” I assume you mean motions to conference? Parliamentarians need to create policy proposals for their specific remits but one source you have missed is the FPC itself
through the working groups it establishes and policy papers that are generated. The actual process of setting priorities must be influenced by the lifespan of particular policies and their relevance given changing events.

5. How would you change the party’s procedures on gathering and analysing evidence when formulating policy?
The process is different now we are in Government – we have a lot more research resources
available (though the Civil Service) and should have a much more comprehensive evidence base on
which to build policy.

6, Which is more important - freedom from ignorance, poverty or conformity?
Benjamin Franklin said, “The road from poverty runs past the schoolhouse!” I feel ignorance is the greatest evil – freedom from that allows people to generate ideas which supersede conformity and which provide steps to climb away from poverty.

7, Are you a member of any (S)AOs or other pressure groups which might give us an insight into your policy priorities?
Lib Dem Disability Association, International Lib Dems, Parliamentary Candidates Association

8, Which external bodies would you like to see audit the manifesto to see if our policies are workable?
Institute for Fiscal Studies, Key specialist bodies like Friends of the Earth, Amnesty International, some non-union health and educational bodies

9, What proposals do you have to improve the process of negotiating policy priorities for a coalition agreement in the event of another hung parliament?
I think we did pretty well this time, perhaps a little more emphasis on the need to support each other’s priorities and agreed procedures / constraints when this does not occur.

10, If elected, how do you plan to engage with the wider party?
Facebook, Lib Dem Voice, etc. Regional events, Federal Conferences

11, Are you standing for any other committees, if so which ones, and if elected to more than one how do you plan to divide your time?
As a wheelchair user I suppose I’m a sitting candidate – joking apart, YES I am also a candidate for Federal Executive and Federal Conference Committee. Time is not a problem for me – I don’t work and so am willing to do a lot for the Party – I live on a good train route to London, have a railcard and, if I do have to stay overnight can normally get a bargain deal at a Travelodge (maybe it’s my background but I try to avoid spending money!)



You can find links to all the other candidates' answers here

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