Keep an active radical voice on FPC 

There is a job to be done to complete the Manifesto, explaining - or creating! - the Party’s vision in the process.  There is another job to start to restate core values which the Party seems to some to have lost.

Unfortunately Party secrecy rules prevent me from saying what, I have worked closely through the Manifesto Group as well as FPC to try and ensure policies that are identifiably Liberal.

My record over some 17 years shows that I’m not a shrinking violet when the Party gets it wrong!

I understand what FPC can and can’t do, and will actively ensure it stays true to our values.  In

particular I will push for an overall package to balance the books that doesn’t affect the most

vulnerable more than our 2010 manifesto would.  I will also continue to press for the party to develop policy on welfare in line with Liberal values, the first time FPC will have done this since 1998.

I will stand up for sustainable radical and social Liberal ideas. Even with fewer resources, we need to get a clear message across about what we’re for.  That means much better internal party discussion from FPC, and with our backbench teams whose work remains largely unsung and whose role remains vital.

My record:

  • 9 years’ FPC experience since 1998
  • Policy working group member over the years
  • Former councillor in Reading and West Oxfordshire; former group leader holding the balance of power.
  • Stood in 2010 General Election in Reading East, and 2001 against one D. Cameron!
  • Co-Chair of Social Liberal Forum 2012-14
  • Member of Liberator Collective
  • Helped see off 2005 attempt to scrap all Party policy and 1990s disastrous dalliances with Tony Blair!
  • Wrote and moved plenty of policies and amendments
  • Member, Tax Commissions 2006 and 2013
  • Over 90% Attendance.  I have attended 21 of the 23 recorded FPC meetings (the percentage is higher as the FPC meetings at Federal Conference are not included).  History may (at least) be made by those who turn up.
  • Measuring Equality Impacts: For the last year I have chaired the PEIA Group, set up by FPC and the Diversity Engagement Group to assess equality impacts of proposed policy.    This has involved setting up a new process that had been the subject of some disagreement, making it straightforward and accessible without being overly bureaucratic.  It sets out to encourage working groups and Chairs to think of possible issues before the consultation phase to ensure the right people are consulted; and then to advise regarding issues in the final draft paper.  The process was in place for the 2014 policy papers and feedback was that it improved the papers as a whole.
  • Supporting Transparency: There has always been a tension on FPC between the need to maintain discretion, and the need for transparency.  I have always supported the latter. This Parliament I have repeatedly raised this and supported others when they have done the same.   The lack of proper reporting is a nonsense and shows a distrust of our members.


FCC: Keeping Conference Liberal!


I have pushed to get more done to help those on low incomes to attend, including on

Facebook.  A new accommodation scheme is up and running; but proposals to pilot online

participation in consultative sessions and Q&As were rejected.  I will keep trying to progress this.

My experience helps me to spot and help stop any blatant attempts to manipulate the Conference agenda or to keep anything that should be debated, from being debated.

Pressure on Party finances should not result in volunteer-run Party bodies being made to suffer.

We should ensure the interests of Party members and groups are set fairly alongside

the necessary goal of maximising income.

I will do what I’ve always done on FCC, such as:

  • Work to ensure as many members as possible can attend;
  • Help anyone wanting assistance drafting motions and/or amendments;
  • Staying open-minded and pressing unpopular causes - as I did with more use of Saturdays;
  • Work to maximise debating time;
  • Keep an ear open for the voice of the Party’s campaigners.

I play a part in much of Conference, from the platform to compering the Glee Club.  Please support me so I can continue to do this.

Contact: garethepps [at], my dedicated campaign pages at or my Facebook page

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