Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Liberal Democrat Conference and police accreditation: The dog that no longer barks

"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?" 
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time." 
"The dog did nothing in the night-time." 
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
This time last year the Liberal Democrat blogosphere was filled with outrage at the party's decision to require people to be accredited by the police before they could attend its autumn conference.

That outrage was turned into a critical motion at that conference, which was duly passed.

Then, earlier this year, the party's bigwigs announced that they were going set aside the party's constitution and ignore that motion.

The result? Near silence.

It seems the party is already happy with the notion that in modern Britain you must be approved by the police before you can attend a political conference.

That is how liberties are lost.

13 comments:

Jennie said...

We're not happy, Jonathan, we're just not going. If the will of conference can be ignored to such an extent, then what's the point?

Sarah Brown said...

I've worked to try and get a solution for people with sensitive identities. Didn't really get anywhere. Have given up on (autumn) conference. I don't see the point in repeatedly hitting my head against a brick wall. I'm just not going.

Andrew Hickey said...

I remember there being a lot of outrage -- I know I got absolutely furious with Tim in the comments of the LDV article where he announced this -- and I also know that LGBT+ LDs have put a LOT of effort into trying to get this changed.

But yes, I'm not going either.

Kimpatsu said...

How many members actually resigned from the party as a consequence, please?

Zoe O'Connell said...

The next round of this battle won't be fought at conference - it will happen in the FCC elections.

G said...

I never realised that joining the Lib Dems automatically guaranteed that you weren't a psycho planning to cause mayhem at a conference! Truly we are the cure for all ills. Sigh....

Andrew Hickey said...

So, G, your argument is perhaps that the police have special psychic powers and *can* tell when someone is 'a psycho' and what plans they have?

Gawain said...

And yours is that all police vetting is useless?

Andrew Hickey said...

*sigh*
See, what I was doing was creating a straw-man parody of your stance, much as you had previously done.

I doubt anyone here would argue that all police vetting is useless.

What we would argue is that, absent any evidence of any threat whatsoever, the tiny possibility that police vetting might throw up something is overwhelmingly outweighed by the restriction on the rights to freedom of assembly, association and speech that is caused by giving the police the power to decide which party members are allowed to attend, the possible dangers to members with sensitive identities, and the dangerous precedent set by FCC taking it upon themselves to overrule both the party's constitution and the expressed will of Conference.

One might almost say we're against police vetting in this case because we're Liberals and Democrats.

Zoe O'Connell said...

They're not necessarily worried about 'a psycho', or a repeat of the Brighton Bombing. (Because vetting would not have stopped that)

The concern is something along the lines of someone attacking Vince with a spoon and then a venue staff member or exhibitor getting hurt and suing the party.

Vetting won't stop random fork-related incidents, it just means the insurance company won't be able to wriggle out of paying up because the party didn't follow police advice.

So it's pointless hoop-jumping and everyone knows it, but nobody wants to take the risk of bankrupting the party over it.

Anonymous said...

Except those who do.

Simon said...

Yeh, I'm not going either. I went to my first conference in 2010, loved it, and won't go again until the party starts standing up for what we believe in.

I think this is probably much worse for the party then either complete indifference or open hostility, but it feels like the only choice you have if you don't want to give in to this, and I just refuse to do that. Can we really not find 1 police force that will not advise us that we have to do this? Failing that could we not make it a party priority to actually win a police commissioner election so that we can try and change this? Could we even not (horror of horrors) think about introducing a BILL into PARLIAMENT to protect political parties from this sort of 'pointless hoop-jumping'? Apparently not.

As several people have said Sigh.

Andrew Hickey said...

Simon, as Zoe says probably the most important thing to do is vote for candidates who won't roll over for the police in the next FCC elections. I know there will be some standing...