Saturday, September 18, 2010

Purposeful start to LibDem conference

There was a low-key but purposeful start to the Federal Conference which began in Liverpool today. Federal Committee reports were approved, and two motions which may not hit the headlines, but which are nevertheless important, were passed.

Andrew Wiseman, taking over from Duncan Brack as chairman of Federal Policy Committee,  stressed the need to maintain our distinctive identity. He regretted the need to sack eight members of staff from the policy area alone, as a result of losing funding to support the research and campaigning functions of opposition parties (the "Short" and "Cranborne" monies). On the positive side, members of the Federal Policy had input to coalition policy discussions.

The first motion, to press for the award of a national defence medal to UK service veterans was passed overwhelmingly. [Text published as a comment to this post]

Duncan Greenland, in moving acceptance of the Federal Finance and Administration Committee report, pointed out that, while the Labour Party was reported to be some £20m in debt - causing Lord Prescott to speak of it as being on the brink of bankruptcy - the Liberal Democrats had net current assets. The party had fought its most expensive general election campaign yet, at £5m, of which £1m had come in the form of individual donations raised in various ways including over the Internet.

In moving F7 (Transactions Transparency and Conflicts-of-Interest in Government) Paul Reynolds of Leicester repeated the charges which he made at spring conference about the revolving door of civil servants and supply companies,  and the ability of civil servants to hold shares in companies they were dealing with. He cited the recent Chinook helicopters debacle. There was an amendment which aimed to put central & local government on same footing. Peter Black AM for South Wales West objected to the part which attempted to bind devolved administrations as unconstitutional, though conference disagreed. The motion as amended was carried.

1 comment:

Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats said...

Text of first policy motion, moved by Colonel Terry Scriven of New Forest
Liberal Democrats (The summation was by Bob Russell MP for Colchester, where there is a strong Army tradition)

F4 The Award of a UK National Defence Medal to Service Veterans

Conference notes that during the past sixty-five years, millions of personnel have taken the oath of allegiance or affirmation to Her Majesty the Queen, accepting either through compulsion in
the case of National Service personnel or voluntarily in the case of regular and reserve forces the obligation to place their lives on the line to ensure the United Kingdom and its interests are kept safe and secure.
Conference condemns the last Labour Government which, while priding itself on its support to our armed forces, refused to provide the commitment and recognition by recommending to Her
Majesty the Queen the award of a UK National Defence Medal to veterans.
Conference further notes:
a) The need to support and display public recognition to all those who serve or have served their country as a member of the Armed Forces.
b) The disruption to the lives of millions of men and women, conscripted into National Service, without appropriate recognition; many are now deceased and the tens of thousands surviving are in their 70s and 80s.
c) The service of those who took part and gave their lives in the Berlin airlift; the demands of the Cold War which saw hundreds of service men and women killed in North West Europe on
duty and thousands more injured; and the servicemen and women who served through the murder and maiming by the IRA of colleagues and the threat of such attacks against them and their families on the streets of England, Germany and Holland in terrorists bombings and shootings.
d) The ‘Armed Forces Veterans Badge’, originally issued by the MOD to Second World War veterans to commemorate the 60th Anniversary celebrations for the ending of the Second World War has been made available for all veterans; it was not designed for and is considered
inappropriate as the only form of recognition for those who gave service to this nation in the Armed Forces.
e) Her Majesty the Queen, at the request of the Australian Government, has already awarded a medal of official recognition of service to all Australian veterans and is about to do the same for New Zealand veterans at the request of the New Zealand Government.
Conference therefore calls for:
1. Acknowledgement of the significant personal sacrifice our Armed Forces personnel make in their service to the Nation once they take the oath or affirmation of allegiance to Her Majesty
the Queen.
2. Acknowledgement of the failure to recognise officially the commitment and sacrifices made by service veterans who have contributed to the safety and security of the United Kingdom since the ending of the Second World War.
3. The coalition government to rescind the decision made by the previous Labour Government to refuse to recommend the award of a National Defence Medal to our armed service veterans and instead, establish a working group to work with the Committee on the Grant of Honours
Decorations and Medals, with a view to implementing the award as soon as possible.