I’ve been working through my list of things to follow up on after last weeks trip to Birmingham for the Liberal Democrats’ Autumn Conference, including writing up various blog posts. To speed things up a bit I thought I’d use this edition of ‘Random Thoughts’ to round-up all those things from conference that I want to note but that don’t really deserve a blog post of their own.
- A summary of the formal business of conference, including details of the motions passed, are available from the Liberal Democrat’s website.
Given I was traveling down on the Saturday morning I missed the three consultative sessions. I made up for that a bit by writing my response to the local government finance paper on the train. But there was also the ‘what went wrong?’ session on the May 2011 elections that I missed.
Perhaps missing it was just as well as Alex Wilcock in previewing it describes it as”perhaps the most depressing talking shop ever put on a Lib Dem Agenda”. Alex’s post on how we should ‘Never Mention “STV” Again‘ is worth a read.
Elections to the House of Lords
After arriving at my hotel on the Saturday my first priority was the debate on elections to the House of Lords. Due to getting caught in a rainstorm and then slightly lost alongside one of Birmingham’s many canals I missed nearly all of the debate. I got into the hall just in time to see Mark Pack give the final speech. But I was in time to vote in support of the motion.
Missing the debate was a shame because I didn’t get to see the excellent speech by former Liberal Democrat leader Ming Campbell who in a strongly worded statement directly addressed those recalcitrant Lib Dem peers and demanded that they “do their duty” and support Lords reform. However, I was able to catch up with the speech on YouTube:
I have written more about the background to this here. The motion as passed by conference is available here.
You can support the campaign for House of Lords reform by signing up to the Facebook page Liberal Democrats for Lords Reform and by taking part in the official Parliamentary consultation.
I went to a fascinating fringe on the Monday lunchtime that looked at higher education and the music industry. Organised by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and the Association of British Orchestras it had a first class range of speakers including Simon Hughes MP, the Government’s Advocate for Access to Higher Education.
We heard from Darren Henley, the Managing Director of Classic FM, who has just completed an independent review of music education for the government. I’ve learnt that this is a crucial moment for music education. The government are due to publish the National Plan for Music Education this autumn. They have also committed £82.5 million for music education in schools up to April 2012, but funding beyond this date is uncertain.
The meeting also heard from Louise Teboul of Common Purpose who had some interesting things to say about creating spaces that help to stimulate creativity. Talking of creative spaces, I was also impressed with the CBSO Centre itself.
Reforms to internal election regulations
Due to adverse circumstances I was unable to be in the hall early on Wednesday morning as I had hoped to be to vote on the rule changes to relax the restrictions on campaigning in internal party elections. I support these changes and have written about them here. However, I am pleased to report that they were voted through without opposition. This is good news for the health of the Party’s internal democracy.
Nick Clegg’s Speech
The closing act of conference is of course the Leader’s big set piece speech. Overall I thought it was extremely good. I had issues with one or two aspects of it but those aside it was probably the best speech I have heard from Nick.
In other news
Finally a few things outside of conference that I wanted to briefly mention:
- Simon McGrath has written a follow up article on the results of the Electoral Reform Society elections.
- Paul Walter sees tragedy in the case of Margaret Moran.