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Posted by: John Brace | 7th June 2011

Liberal Democrat Federal Conference Arrangements – Outrage at FCC’s agreement to increased security

Liberal Democrat Federal Conference Arrangements – Outrage at FCC’s agreement to increased security

                                             

I feel very, very strongly about the illiberal arrangements made between the Federal Conference Committee and the police regarding the party’s Federal Conference in Birmingham in September.

Many, many members have expressed their outrage online as to what they see as a) a breach of Conference Standing Order 6.2 (which can be read on the party’s website here and the illiberal increased security arrangements which include:-

a) a new passport photo by all going to this conference that meets passport requirements. Previously the same photo was used for up to 3 years
b) the insistence on one of passport number (if a person holds British and Irish then both), NI number or driving licence number
c) 3 year address history
d) Date joined the party (for people who have been party members for a decade or more how are you supposed to answer the specific day you joined?)

Greater Manchester Police are then going to check this all against photos held by the Passport Agency and check conference goers say they live where they live. I now quote from a document agreed (by all but one) of the party’s Federal Conference Committee marked confidential.

"Greater Manchester Police will then check whether they believe the person to be a security threat to conference. If they do they will pass this information onto West Midlands Police. West Midlands Police will then decide whether they are a risk, if they recommend they are barred from conference this will be referred to Andrew Wiseman (Chair of the Federal Conference Committee) and Lucy. The final decision will be made by Andrew, Chris Fox, David Allworthy and Lucy. If appropriate a senior SpAd (special adviser) from Nick’s office (who has the highest level of security clearance) will provide advice."

And "To put this into perspective at last year’s Conservative party conference 3 members ‘failed’ (they have considerably more members attend than we do)."

In addition "The police will run a full accreditation process at conference. This will be available for day visitors and those that registered to late for them to compete the accreditation process. There will also be the opportunity to ‘interview’ those attendees who were not able to provide ample evidence of their identity prior to conference eg foreign nationals."

The latter sounds racist to me. There are many, many, members that feel extremely strongly and angry about this and feel it breaches Conference Standing Order 6.2 (part of the party’s constitution) which is copied below.

6.2 deals with exclusions from conference

6.2 Appeals against exclusion from conference

Any person excluded from conference by a decision of the Chief Steward shall have the right of appeal to the Committee at the next of its regular meetings. The exclusion shall remain in force pending the appeal. If the person who is excluded is a voting member of conference, their local party or SAO shall be contacted immediately and invited to appoint a substitute for the remainder of the conference.

So, should the Lib Dems agree to all conference goers photos being checked by police against passport records and the final decision over whether to admit someone not being taken by the Chief Steward (as the conference standing order states), but the FCC Chair, Chief Executive Chris Fox, Lucy and David Allworthy (who Cllr Williams’ last Friday cited the advice of giving her "no choice" than to propose a motion suspending me as a party member?

The panjandrums clearly underestimated how well this would be stomached by the grass roots of the party who are in open revolt whether that’s the Northern Ireland Lib Dems, a well respected blogger or the unusually high 151 comments left when the Chair of Federal Conference Committee Andrew Wiseman wrote about the increased requirements on Lib Dem Voice.

Another member puts it extremely well in a letter here.

Certainly standing order 6.2 needs changing if the above is ever implemented. Is this all to stop the next Walter Wolfgang heckler?


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