Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Conference ...... what's the point?

I have just voted in the LDV poll. Of course I would have preferred a poll that allowed us to prioritise, I also enjoy the socialising, fringes, general buzz..........but of course the highlight for me is the debate. Despite my occasional :-) moanings about stuff, I am rather proud that we do still have a process in policy making that involves the membership. If political activism is about anything it is surely based on the premise that collectively we can achieve more than we can on our own. When we lose the link with our grass roots to my mind we not only lose our legitimacy we also make worse decisions. I know there are some in our parliamentary party (because I have heard them) who would rather cut the feckless activists out of the process altogether, life would be so much easier wouldn't it. Yes, but we would fast turn into a think tank of the great and the good who never go near the great unwashed but presume to have something to say on how to make their lives better.....oh yes, just like Labour and the Tories!

There are flaws in the current process that I would like to see something done about. For example, I don't like the fact that parliamentary spokespeople can effectively block any motion/amendment they don't like. I believe we should have a system where the membership has a say in the policies they want to debate. This could either happen by sending out all competent motions to local parties to prioritise, or by reserving the last day of conference to debate motions prioritised by conference reps (rather as we do with emergency motions). Of course this would give some in the party the heeby jeebies - heavens we might have to debate a really controversial issue.........but I believe it would engender more involvement in the policy making process. As someone who has never had a motion accepted by FCC, I know how demoralising and demotivating it is. In fact the only motion I have ever had debated was one submitted for emergency where the activists prioritised it. Of course FCC may counter by accusing me of writing crappy motions (!)

So, let's see what happens with my various amendments......

What I am pleased about is that an apparent drift towards less policy making and more chatting a la Labour/Tory, seems to be off the cards. At the moment we seem to have it about right.

So, of course I am looking forward to a lively and interesting conference. Will it be possible to amend the motion on Making it Happen? Will we support the status quo in Afghanistan? Will Nick Clegg send us off with fire in our bellies and a song in our hearts???!

1 comment:

Deb Acle (aka Barely human now) said...

I was thinking about the great and the good committees and circles yesterday as I wrote a piece about the London Assembly initiating a major investigation into underage alcohol abuse, which is costing the capital a packet in one way or other.

It felt to me like there may have been a bit of this visiting the 'unwashed' out there on the streets to ask them what it's all about, then, this boozing business? Then I remembered that a certain 16yo son of a certain prime minister was found legless in central London once.

Clearly, the 'fixes' that these elite committees construct don't work. Politics has to stop being about creating exclusive clubs. But that's rather Canute-ish, isn't it?