Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Secret Courts emergency motion for Lib Dem Conference

Earlier today I submitted the following emergency motion relating to last night's Secret Courts vote for Lib Dem conference this weekend. There is a slot on Sunday morning where urgent issues can be debated.

There is also a motion that has been submitted by Jo Shaw who has been an outstanding campaigner on this issue for a long time.

I am very hopeful that one of these motions will be picked. My one is a bit more succinct and tries to make a broader point to the leadership but the important thing is we debate the issue as our internal democracy is currently under threat.

Conference believes that the way the party has recently voted with respect to the Justice and Security Bill has fallen short of the party's founding principles. Conference urges the party in government to take more account of the views of members and its founding principles when deciding policies to support within government. Conference acknowledges that it is difficult to strike a balance in a coalition but that there are certain precepts that should underpin any such negotiations.

Conference asserts that the preamble to the constitution is central to our reason for existence and therefore these key principles should be:

a)      Safeguarding a fair, free and open society.
b)      Balancing the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community.
c)       Ensuring that no-one shall be enslaved by, poverty ignorance or conformity.

Conference urges the party’s parliamentarians in the Commons and the Lords to vote in accordance with the principles that underpin the Liberal Democrats in any future votes on the Justice and Security Bill and other legislation.


Unknown said...

Doesn't this strike at a fundamental problem - MPs cannot be mandated to vote in a certain way, so what power, in practice, does conference actually have over the leadership when the party is part of the government? (NB There is the option to de-select a sitting MP but I can't imagine constituency parties being brave enough to act on this)

Dave Eastham said...


I'm afraid that your motion, however more succinct than the motion submitted by Jo, does indeed come rather too close to attempting to mandate the M.P's. Which, incidentally, is specifically banned in our constitution regarding conference representatives. I suggest your motion can only serve to confuse issues rather than clarify. Perhaps you should consider withdrawing your motion?. Please.

Dave Eastham

Mark Thompson said...


All the motion does is urge parliamentarians to vote in accordance with the principles of the party they represent. Nothing more. It doesn't mandate them in any way.

But of course if the committee agrees with you then it will be rejected. If not then it has a chance of being debated.