By Linda Jack, SLF Council member
We expect one of the highlights of the weekend to be our Friday evening fringe with Vince Cable “How we get growing again – the road to 2015”. It will be in Hall 4 after the rally at 20.15 – not to be missed and likely to be over-subscribed, given Dr. Cable’s recent intervention on economic policy, so do arrive early.
For SLF the most important challenge this weekend is to ensure that the emergency motion on the economy wins the ballot – this is our last chance before the budget to ensure Liberal Democrat policy is promoted and our parliamentarians have a clear steer from Conference. We know there will be stiff competition from other important issues, perhaps a reason to call for more time to debate emergency motions at conference. We urge you to give this motion your first preference at the speaker’s table before 1pm on Saturday
We have a second fringe on Saturday lunch time in partnership with Centre Forum – “What do we want from the Welfare State?” in Sandringham; speakers include our own vice-chair Gareth Epps, Steve Webb MP, and James Plunkett from the Resolution Foundation.
The main agenda at conference kicks off on Saturday morning with a potential stir debating a constitutional amendment to allow conference to remove the leader with a two thirds majority. As SLF we have decided not to take a view on this and will listen to the debate. Later that morning we will also hear from Paddy Ashdown and Steve Webb, have an opportunity to put our 10penneths in on the Manifesto and debate the importance of good teachers.
Saturday afternoon includes the ever popular opportunity to question Nick Clegg, which given the events of the last few weeks may prove interesting; along with debates on the rural economy and justice in social security tribunals.
We know getting up on Sunday morning is really tough following Glee – but it will be worth it! Of course we hope our economy motion will win the ballot for the debate at 9.30, but even if it doesn’t emergency debates always provide passion and an important opportunity for topical debate. Other debates on tax avoidance and creating a stronger manufacturing sector precede the leader’s speech – expect more than a passing reference to the new mantra “Stronger Economy, Fairer Society”
For those of you arriving early enough the consultation sessions on Friday afternoon are really important covering as they do Defence, Tax, Education and Skills, Europe and Political and Constitutional Reform – something for everyone there.
So, we hope to see as many of you as possible, especially at our fringes – be assured the Social Liberal flag will be flying throughout the weekend. Tacking right to the centre? Not if we have anything to do with it!