miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
You may have noticed that the previous two posts were somewhat light on my usual "we debated this motion, and I voted this way on it" details. That's mostly because after I had done the reporting-back-from-FCC bits (which I pledged to do upon my candidacy for FCC - I keep my promises, me. Mostly...) the posts were already stupidly long, but also in part because my lovely friend Andrew has done an excellent summary of the salient points here, and given that I am his evil twin (or he is mine - honestly, basically the only difference between us is that I really like beards and he merely has one) I don't feel the need to reiterate his points.

For the avoidance of doubt, though, here is how I voted:
  • Emergency Motions Ballot: can't actually remember, except that I put the second Scottish referendum motion bottom (we can't mandate our MPs how to vote so it was utterly pointless, AND it's not up to English MPs to tell Scotland what to do anyway IMHO) and the Trump one next to bottom (he's not coming till October. Put a (better drafted) motion in for Autumn conference, when it will be a live and salient issue). The others I was happy to see a debate on.

  • A Rational Approach to Harm Reduction (aka the Sex Work Motion): I voted against the (mildly wrecking) amendment and for the unamended motion

  • Tackling Overcrowding in the Prison System: I voted for the amendment and the motion.

  • Britain in the EU: I went for lunch during this motion as hell would freeze over before anyone voted against it, and during the scheduled lunch break I would be prepping to aide in the health and social care debate.

  • Crisis in health and social care: I voted for the amendment, and then for the motion as amended, from my shiny shiny "seat reserved for FCC Hall Aide" seat.

  • The Biennial Trident Fudge: I Paired with Alisdair and went to the pub since we would have voted exactly oppositely on both the motion and amendment and thus cancelled each other out. The England/Ireland match was nailbiting.

  • Emergency motion: Unaccompanied Child Asylum Seekers: I voted in favour of us taking in more of them.

  • Faith Schools: We had to vote between three options, then for the amendment, then for the motion as amended or not with whichever option we voted for. I'm going to use Andrew's characterisations here: I voted against "YAY faith schools" & for "Faith schools should be restricted as much as humanly possible without actually banning them". Then I voted for "Faith schools should be restricted as much as humanly possible without actually banning them" and against the horrible and nonsensical fudge which tried to split the difference between the first two. Then I voted for the "ban all faith schools" amendment, but not enough other people did, so it fell. Then I voted for the motion unamended with the option "Faith schools should be restricted as much as humanly possible without actually banning them" being the winning option. And I am not ashamed to admit to shedding a tear during Sarah Brown (Cambridge)'s very moving speech. I am glad Julian and Zoe were there to give her hugs when she had finished.

    As you can tell, this was quite a complicated vote. Small FCC note: I am glad Geoff Payne was chairing it. Although I have had my disagreements with him, he has just the right sort of forensic, nitpicky, legal mind for this kind of thing, and is a very clear and non-waffly chair. He's one of only about four people I would trust with such a contentious debate with so many options, and two of them are no longer on FCC.

  • Associated Membership of the EU: I voted in favour.
I think that covers everything. So... after three long posts... Any questions?
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
Following on from my previous post on York conference, I thought people might be interested in how we plan the debates and how cards get chosen and things like that.

I also recognise that many of you will NOT be interested in this in the slightest, so am putting it behind a cut )



And then of course, we had Not The Leader's Speech. The tradition of Not The Leader's Speech started when Cleggy was Our Glorious Leader. I went to a couple of his leader's speeches and found them excruciating. In the pub after, a Bad Influence who must perforce remain nameless asked me why I hadn't just walked out and gone to the pub, because that's what he had done. The next conference, I walked out (after 7 minutes, as I recall) and found this same person in the pub. The conference after that... well, we just cut out the middle man and went straight to the pub, downloaded the text of the speech, and worked out at which point we would have walked out had we bothered to go in. At the height of coalition the record occurred: we both agreed we would have walked out in the second sentence of the speech. By that point, though, word had got around somewhat and there were a reasonable number of us in the pub for Not The Leader's Speech.

When Farron was first elected Glorious Leader he was fully aware that this had become a tradition. I made him a personal promise that I'd go to his first leader's speech, but with the proviso that if there was anything I didn't like I would walk out. There wasn't, and I didn't. In fact it was a really really good speech. The thing is, I still don't like leader's speeches (or for that matter, The Rally, which I always feel has a silent Nuremburg in between The and Rally). I don't like sitting there being spoonfed and not participating. I don't like the enforced conformity of the expectation to applaud in the right places (and in some cases standingly ovate). IMHO it's Just Not Liberal. So the only one of Farron's leader's speeches I have been to, and probably ever will go to, remains his first. I no longer feel the need to read the text and work out at which point I would have walked out, because I don't have that sort of fractious relationship with his leadership, but it's still nice to find a good pub, claim a room in it, and have beer and food instead of listening and clapping.

The problem this time was that the group of people going to Not The Leader's Speech has grown to more than 30. And we hadn't booked. Admittedly there were only six of us queueing outside the door waiting for the pub to open, but the rest had DMed or texted me asking for a venue and turned up in short order after. As a former barmaid, I felt really bad about doing this to the pub. I think that next time I will have to at least warn the selected pub in advance... And as Zoe said in the comments to the previous entry, now I am on FCC this is in danger of becoming an officially unofficial event... If it gets any bigger it may have to be in the Fringe guide... You can tell how uncomfortable I am with that idea by the number of ellipsis LOL.

This conference we were biefly joined by a not-Lib-Dem friend and segued off into a discussion about cricket for a while, which was lovely I don't think we terrified her too much.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed my officially unofficial reports from conference: next FCC news will probably be from the Shadowy General Purposes And Resources Sub Committee, which I suspect will be quite vague and heavily redacted, so I apologise for that in advance. I will, obviously, explain exactly why I'm having to be vauge and heavily redacted if and when I am.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
The short version of What I Did At Lib Dem Conference is:

Attended lots of FCC meetings and training; co-hosted Glee for the second time; hall-aided my first debate as a member of FCC; "organised" Not The Leader's Speech.

click here for more detail on the first three )

Coming soon: What I Did At Lib Dem Conference part two: structuring an actual debate: this time it's personal PLUS Not The Leader's Speech.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
All the usual things, really. Met up with and broke bread with people I consider family. Voted in lots of debates. Went to fringes. However, there are a couple of things that were out of the ordinary:

- I was very proud that Calderdale's anti-racism motion went through (helped along by a barnstorming speech from the amazing Pauline Pearce).

- I was similarly proud that our amendment to the transport motion went through, and it's now officially lib dem policy to support HS3 connecting the north.

- I made a few speeches, but one that was particularly well-recieved was the one on the social security motion. (if you're a license fee payer, you can watch it here for the next 27 days - I'm at 1 hour 40 minutes and 15 seconds in). Sadly conference still voted the motion through, albeit with amendment one removing the commitment to sanctioning people, but I apologise to all my disabled friends that I wasn't able to get it voted down for the commitment to devolve WCA to local councils (several times this was nonsensically referred to from the stage as "abolishing" WCA - like local councils have the money or inclination to run it any better than ATOS or Maximus).

- I co-hosted Glee for the first time. Which was initially terrifying, but actually... lots of fun. And I really genuinely loved seeing all the journos who gladly sing along with stuff while they are there doing their biennial pretending-to-be-outraged-at-Glee articles the morning after.

Lots of other people from Calderdale made speeches too - Mick Taylor, Ruth Coleman Taylor, Sarah Noble and Alisdair Calder McGregor prominent among them - till it got to the point where in a debate on the final day the chair made a joking reference to a constitutional requirement that someone from Calderdale must speak in every debate for it to be valid. While we didn't win every fight, I think we did pretty well. All in all I think we had a pretty good conference.

And now it's back to the real world...
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
This list is not exhaustive, but I:
  • was somewhat disappointed in the room at the Mariott*, especially given the eye-watering price we were paying, but the staff were lovely**. I'd particularly like to single out for praise the breakfast chef*** who cooked my eggs exactly how I liked them, and was chatty and gregarious.

  • Was amused at the fact that the Mariott kept running out of beer, even despite charging six quid a pint for it, and getting many deliveries.

  • enjoyed many debates and fringes, and the fact that our party does EVERYTHING democratically, even if it is complex and confusing to many.

  • LOVED how carefully the chair of each debate explained what was happening for newer members, and hope to see this continue at future conferences.

  • worried about the wisdom of moving from representative democracy to OMOV, but accepted that it was the will of conference that we do so.

  • was incredibly proud of how active my members are in shaping the agenda of conference. We had one full motion, several amendments, and something on the emergency motions ballot. On top of that we spoke in a lot of motions and debates we hadn't been part of the instigation of.

  • enjoyed the hospitality of The Goat and Tricycle and 60 Million Postcards, especially on the food front.

  • Was particularly proud of Sarah Noble, who despite having been the subject of some pretty nasty harassment of late, still had enough spoons to:
    1. cowrite and propose a full motion on trans healthcare
    2. Speak in several other motions
    3. make the second best pig joke of the conference in proposing an amendment
    4. Perform euthanasia on the constitutional amendment of an angry man from Sheffield

  • enjoyed the cascading moments of peak Lib Dem. Firstly, we had a constitutional amendment that was pretty geeky in and of itself. Then there was a request for a reference back. Then the reference back went to a counted vote. THEN someone said "hey, what happens if it's tied?" and we had to go and find the chair of FCC to ask him.

  • Got in the sea, several times. It was nice.

  • went to the best Glee ever. Well done to all involved in arranging it, especially one Mr G Epps, even if the hotel DID cut us off in our prime.

  • saw FAR too many lovely people to mention them all or I'd just be typing a huge long list forever, but particular highlights were Lynne Featherstone at the Lords fringe, Pauline Pearce all over the conference, but especially leading us in You Are My Sunshine at Glee, and Jeanette Sunderland with some sage advice on the final day.
All in all, despite the cost, it was worth it. And I've already booked my hotel for Brighton, never mind York... ;)



* the iron had a frayed flex, which could have electrocuted me, and they had only given us 4 coat hangers for a 5 day stay. I went to phone to report these things and discovered the phone was broken. For the price we were paying I expect the little things to be right.
** with one exception. The tall skinny blonde lad with the Irish accent and the stripey shirt was unfailingly rude and blanked us every time we spoke to him - all the other staff would happily volunteer a good morning, for example, so we got into the habit of saying good morning to the staff too. This guy completely ignored us every time. He was also very shouty at other members of staff, which it's really not good to do in front of guests, even if the member of staff in question deserves shouting at.
*** whose name was variously written Donny, Danny and Dany on the little noticeboard thing each morning.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
So, in case you're wondering what we got up to in Glasgow, here's us speaking from the stage.

Firstly, our lovely PPC for Calder Valley, Alisdair Calder McGregor spoke several times... )

Todmorden's own Ruth Coleman-Taylor spoke twice ) and also filled a good half of the first Today at Conference )

My lovely treasurer Dr Mick Taylor also spoke twice )

Sarah Noble spoke twice too )

Oh yeah... And I spoke agin gender quotas )
miss_s_b: (Default)
Firstly, Calderdale Local Party has it's policy working group meeting to consider amendments to motions this Saturday. If you have an amendment to a motion that you need support for, email it through to me or Alisdair and we'll put it in front of PWG for consideration for our support.

The other thing that will happen at PWG is that we will consider our OWN amendments. There are several motions that I have an eye on for some minor tweaking (and probably some of the things I am thinking of will be accepted as drafting amendments by the submitters of the motion) but there is ONE motion in particular that I think has the potential to be as controversial as Floella Benjamin's motion on censoring the internet protecting children was.

Heartbreakingly, that is the Crime motion which has had Julian Huppert's name applied to it. After the farrago over DRIP I am less surprised than I might have been, but it's still depressing to see him put his name to something so chock full of sneaky legalese, hidden authoritarianism, and puritanical attitudes. My problems with this motion are so many and varied that I am actually considering doing a full speech against it, rather than trying to amend it. But what do YOU guys think I should do?

Poll #15928 F13 Conference motion on Crime
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 10

In response to the bloody awful Crime motion, Jennie should:

Speak against the motion at conference
7 (70.0%)

try to get lots of amendments submitted
7 (70.0%)

do a line-by-line fisking of the thing on her blog
7 (70.0%)

despair at the damn thing being accepted in it's current form
3 (30.0%)

none of the above
0 (0.0%)



ETA: I should say that I am not against SOME of the proposals in this motion, and that's what makes it so frustrating. I'd really love to vote for some of them. But there's not enough there for me to want to support the motion as a whole.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
As usual conference was BUSY and I am now knackered. In no particular order here are some of the things I did:
  • Voted in lots of debates. LOTS of debates.

  • Spread the news about my workplace among various party people, which will hopefully get us lots more work coming in.

  • Was very proud of various members of my local party who submitted questions and amendments, and spoke from the stage. Special props to my lovely candidate for Calder Valley, who was not only speaking lots, but spoken about (described by Joe Otten as "the next MP for Calder Valley, Alisdair Calder McGregor, talk about nominative determinism" LOL); my treasurer Dr Taylor, who moved our amendment to the Power to the People motion; and my regional exec rep Sarah, who made her first speech at her first conference on the Digital Bill of Rights. It got to the stage where there was a tangible sense of affectionate weariness in the voice of some of the people chairing the debates when they said "...and now I call X person from Calderdale" LOL.

  • Raised something in the region of £300 for wearing a dress to the posh candidates' reception, which prompted a raised eyebrow from Our Glorious Leader and an accusation of "looking girly" from Farron. Pictorial evidence here and here.

  • Did productive networking with various MPs and MEPs and other folks, including the usual "nice suit Brian!" "nice hair Jennie!" *cheek-kisses* interaction with Brian Paddick, a promise to hunt out my old "Munt not Manure" stickers for supreme BAMF Tessa Munt, a good long chat with presidential hopeful Pauline Pearce the Hackney Heroine, and admiring Jeremy Browne's new beard.

  • Rocked Ilkley Moor at Glee.

  • Reconnected with various fellow members of the Awkward Squad and promised to make t-shirts for autumn (I am SO on this). The only problem being, as Gadsden pointed out, that EVERYBODY is going to want one...

  • As usual, ran into lots of old friends and new, but missed others. Was v pleased to see (albeit briefly) such people as Helen Duffett, Daddies Richard and Alex, Susan Gasczack, Bobbi White, Tim Oliver, etc.etc. And I met the AWESOME Maelo Manning's mum! Was sad to miss Stackee (though she was there) and various people who didn't make it (Jenkins!).

  • And, inevitably, found a good pub which does GREAT food. I think the poor Mason's Arms got a bit overwhelemed by the influx of Lib Dems by the end of Sunday afternoon, but they really were very good. Saturday lunchtime there were just a few of us Awkward Squad types in there; Saturday evening there were a reasonable number more. Sunday lunchtime it was RAMMED with lib Dems. So this is me 1, thanking them for being a great pub and putting up with us all, and 2, recommending them to anyone who is in York in the Castle area.
Today is likely to involve a degree of unpacking and recovery. And answering emails. And then back to work tomorrow...
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miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
If you are a voting rep, please please PLEASE go into the hall for F17 at 17.00 Sunday evening and vote for the reference back. If the reference back fails then please vote against the motion, whether it is amended or not. The motion as submitted is terrifyingly illiberal, technologically illiterate, and will almost certainly be counterproductive. The amendment selected for debate by FFC takes all this badness and adds internet pop-ups to it too. I have no idea what FCC were on when they accepted this motion, nor when they selected the least popular and most senseless amendment from those submitted for debate, but I wish they'd stop taking it.

The motion is supposed to protect children from internet porn. It won't protect children from internet porn, but it WILL make it much more difficult for them to obtain information about sexual health, and also access a whole host of other information on the internet, including this blog. The ONLY way to prevent the harms which internet porn does to children is to EDUCATE both parents and children. Burying our heads in the sand and hoping the magic technology fairy will fix things is a recipe for disaster.

If you're unsure as to how right I am on any of this there are a bunch of people wandering round conference with this flyer. Talk to them.

Thanking you in advance.
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