3 June 2011

Lib Dem grassroots fight conference police veto

The decision by the Lib Dems conference committee to grant the police sweeping powers to vet representatives has been met with near universal opposition from the party's grassroots.

Conference reps will need to prove their identity through a passport, driving licence or NI number and provide a passport quality photo and these details will be kept by the police indefinitely.

This goes against the principle that the conference is the sovereign body of the party and local parties can send who they want to it.

The reason for this police intrusion is that old canard 'security'. Chair of the conference committee, Andrew Wiseman, tried to justify this by writing on Lib Dem Voice 'The hard fact is that our conference as a whole, and some of our members who attend conference who are ministers, are now more a focus for people who very seriously do not wish our democratic procedures to continue.'

Now I know Nick Clegg isn't particularly popular at the moment, but I find it difficult to believe that a fully paid up member of the party, who had been duly elected by their fellow local members would go to conference to do him harm. At worst I imagine they might send him a strongly worded email or ask a pointed question.

So the question the Federal Conference Committee needs to answer (but so far hasn't) is: What evidence did the police and home office present to them that means there is a credible threat to government ministers from properly elected conference representatives (not exhibitors or journalists or day visitors)?

If you haven't done so - sign the petition here.

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