On Thursday, Liberal Democrat Voice reported that Chris Rennard was elected to represent the party’s House of Lords group on the Federal Executive. Since then, there has been strong disquiet, to put it mildly, and efforts have been going on to collect the necessary number of signatures to call a special party conference.
Mark Pack reported last night:
More than the necessary 200 signatures have been gathered and the party’s Federal Conference Committee (FCC) has started planning for holding the special conference.
There is still an option to call it off, if matters are otherwise resolved first, such as if Chris Rennard decides not to take up his post on the FE.
If the conference does go ahead, it is likely to debate a motion to remove the Lib Dem Lords group’s representatives on the party’s federal committees.
Such a special conference will be held under the new One Member One Vote, OMOV, rules. So all members will be able to attend and vote.
There are, obviously, very strong feelings about this subject. It is quite right that if people feel strongly enough that there should be a special conference, then there should be a special conference. Perhaps it will bring this long-running matter to a head and allow the party to move on. I hope so.
MPs have a representative slot on the FE but they cannot stand in the main elections. The Peers have a representative slot and can stand in the main elections. So there is a genuine anomaly which needs to be sorted out.
Personally, I think we have seen signs this week (in events unrelated to this issue) that the party has put its house in order, in terms of implementing the Morrissey paragraph. It is a shame (perhaps typical Liberal Democrat bad luck?) that such encouraging signs have been lost amongst the noise this week. And I apologise that I currently have to remain rather cryptic on that point.
Sooner or later the party is going to have to find a way to put the past to rest. A special conference may help that.
Under Sal Brinton and Tim Farron I believe we have two “new brooms” and we are on the cusp of a new, reformed era in internal party management.
Somehow we need to resolve the issues of the past and move on. We almost need a “Truth and reconciliation commission” and the help of Desmond Tutu. However, hopefully a special conference, or events which its intiation stimulate, will do.
On a cheerful note, is there any chance the special conference could be held in Oldham and facilitate some mass Focus delivery as part of the occasion? Perhaps such a conference cannot be arranged before the by-election. That’s a shame.