'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Dear FCC, With reference to Accreditation:

Thank you for inviting comments on this controversial issue.

I am against accreditation at Conference and wish the FCC to decline Sussex Police's kind invitation to adopt it.

You will have no doubt been inundated with the arguments against, so I will not waste your time reiterating them (although excellent summaries of all the reasons why it is a bad thing can be found at Caron Lindsay's blogpost,  'Conference Accreditation rears its unacceptable, illiberal and not very pretty head' , amongst numerous others). I would also suggest FCC members spend a little time at the comments section of the LDV posting announcing this review. 90%+ of the comments  are anti accreditation.

So I'd like to make a separate point. Why on earth is this consultation exercise taking place at all? Given the furore running up to conference, the emergency debate (which I watched in the registration centre, unable to enter conference as I was being checked for accreditation by Greater Manchester Police as it took place - oh, the irony), and the motion that was passed, the party has made clear its views; and done so in a more democratic forum than that of a last minute posting on LDV inviting all comments within a week, some 7 months after conference voted. The motion passed at conference made clear the party's views. Here's what was passed:

Conference therefore condemns the system of police accreditation adopted for this conference  which requires party members to disclose personal data to the police and which is designed to enable the police to advise that certain party members should not be allowed to attend.

1.The Parliamentary Party and Liberal Democrat Ministers to question the current police guidance on accreditation and to seek to persuade the Home Office to change guidance on  current practice to reflect the rights of association and assembly and the internal democracy  of all political parties.

2. The Federal Conference Committee to negotiate security arrangements for future conferences which protect the privacy of members’ personal data and which respect the party’s constitution and internal democracy.

3. The Party President to ensure that conference arrangements respect Article 6 of the federal constitution which provides that Local Parties elect representatives and that no other body within or without the party has the power to exclude in advance their attendance at conference.

I would have thought at this time a piece describing the actions taken to follow the demands of conference, especially point 1, would have been a more appropriate step than asking for fresh feedback. It also sounds as if the FCCs 'negotiations' with Sussex Police involve meeting 2 policeman who told them that without accreditation another Brighton Bombing or Norwegian massacre is possible - neither of which would have been stopped by accreditation. That may be an unfair assessment of what you have done - but the article posted makes it hard to draw any other conclusion.

So, in short, please decline accreditation. And I would value it if you could  post an article on LDV explaining why this consultation process was necessary at all, given the motion passed at conference last year.

Thanks and best wishes

Richard Morris

PS. I would also like to reiterate my thanks to the long suffering staff at registration last year who got my pass approved in record time, and seemed to be suffering the results of a lot of members frustration for a process that they were in no way responsible for. They were stars. Please don't put them in the same insidious position this year - the FCC has a duty to protect them too.

PPS If other reader ould like to tell the FCC what they think about accreditation, do drop them a line on: conferenceinformation@libdems.org.uk before Saturday.

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