As we move towards the end of August thoughts inevitably turn towards the agenda and issues to be debated at the Liberal Democrats’ Autumn Conference. Well they do for me anyway.
So this seems like a good moment to update my post from April about the proposed changes to relax the restrictions on campaigning in internal party elections.
Back then I welcomed the fact that the Party’s Federal Executive had agreed to support these proposals. In particular, I welcomed the removal of the ridiculous ban on electronic campaigning. Well these changes have made it on to the agenda for the Conference in Birmingham and will be debated and voted on first thing on the morning of Wednesday 21 September.
To get into the details for a moment; the changes to the rules for the federal committees, the area I am most concerned about, includes the deletion of Rule 4(d) which states:
“Candidates or their supporters must not use e-mail, e-groups, cix conferencing or websites during these elections to promote their candidacy,”
It is more than a little embarrassing that it has taken us until 2011 to get rid of this silly and unenforceable rule, but I am glad that it is going. Indeed, the changes suggest we will be taking further steps in a positive direction with the new provision that the returning officer “may carry out electronic communications with the electorate to facilitate the election”. Exciting cutting edge stuff!
The serious point is that this is a step that improves the health of the Party’s internal democracy. As I said in April;
“I want the Liberal Democrats to have a healthy and vibrant internal democracy that encourages debate, challenge and accountability and the use of online communications is an essential method of encouraging that. So I hope the proposals will be supported when they come to conference for approval.”
This content was originally posted on my old Strange Thoughts blog.