'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, 22 May 2012

Today, the role of Shirley Williams will be played by Tim Farron

How gobsmackingly disappointing it is that accreditation has been approved once again for Conference, in the face of vociferous opposition.

I wont go through all the arguments again about why accreditation is wrong - do feel free to visit this link (and the others it mentions) if you are interested. But I would like to make some other points.

1. The piece 'justifying' the decision, which includes the implication that if you are against accreditation then you are less interested in the safety of others visiting the conference than those who are for it, comes with Tim Farrons name attached. This is the 'Shirley Williams Motion' defence, which now seems to be a tactic adopted by the leadership when they want to get their own way - append the name of a much loved liberal figure to the motion to make everyone feel bad about being against the idea. Seeing Tim's tweets last night, it was not at all clear that he had even seen the note he 'wrote'.

We're wise to this tactic, I don't like it and it should cease. What next - 'A CCTV camera in every home - the David Lloyd George motion'.

Either win your case with your argument or accept you're on the wrong side - and back off.

2. The policy committee with responsibility for this area is the FCC. Only they didn't make the decision. They passed it on to FFAC for review (the money folk) who decided accreditation would be allowed, a decision endorsed by FE (the great and the good).

So, what was the point of the consultation exercise which FCC ran. and why put out a statement saying that:

'We have therefore decided to delay opening registration for Party members (and only Party members) whilst further negotiation takes place with the police, other Party Committees, the owners of the conference venue and our insurers.  If we possibly can avoid using accreditation though, we will.  We will provide further information as soon as we are able to do so'

and then getting the decision agreed on the nod at a single FE meeting?

This is a disgrace.and begs the question, what is the point of FCC if it ducks the big decisions?

3. Many people have tweeted today that we should be worrying about more important things. I concur. I wanted to find time today to blog about Social Mobility. Unfortunately, the party hierarchy, in its wisdom, has decided to take an illiberal (and possibly unconstitutional) decision on the day this has been announced. I guess this was possibly in an attempt to limit comment on this issue. In which case it has failed.

I am very unhappy indeed about all this.


  1. To be fair to FCC, from what I am seeing, most of them were expecting the FFAC decision to be advisory, not binding, and (at least the ones I am in contact with) are hopping mad that this went FFAC-apart-from-Caron-says-no, FE rubberstamp, decision made. There is quite a lot of anger that the rug has been pulled out from under FCC's feet, and talk about the federal appeals panel...

  2. Jennie is right. Constitutionally FFAC does have the ability to pull rank on FCC with certain issues in its remit, but it appears that it did so this time (for the first time in some while) without any reference to FCC whose elected members were kept in the dark as a result.

    Yes, of course this isn't the most important political issue right now, but it's a matter of principle, and as you say of what appears to be quite staggering mismanagement.

    Caron's piece at http://carons-musings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/who-voted-against-conference.html is a helpful reminder of who was on the right and wrong side of the FCC argument.