Wendy on Stage at the Conference

Wendy on Stage at the Conference

I was one of a number of Dunfermline and West Fife members to attend the Scottish Conference at the Vine Centre, Dunfermline on Saturday 24th October. As a new member, having joined post the General Election in May, this was also my first conference. I’ve been asked to write an article for the newsletter to give an overview of the day and my impressions as a first time attendee.

On arrival, I picked up my identity card (which is also used for voting) and headed through to the main hall where members of the Conference Committee provided new members and first time attendees with an overview of the day and what to expect in terms of debates and processes. We were also given bright yellow shopping type bags that will be great for leafleting in future!

Just time for a coffee before introductions and the first debate of the day (a penny for the NHS). I was really impressed with how inclusive and non hierarchical the whole day was. Debates were introduced and supported by the members who had raised the motions and there were plenty of opportunities for everyone to get involved. I lost count of the number of new members and maiden speakers who contributed. Local members were well represented – James Calder, Beryl Leatherland and Matthew Hall all spoke eloquently on motions including an evidence based approach to GM crops and a genuinely impassioned debate on developing a federal approach to the future of the UK.

I made a concious decision to remain the hall and get a good handle on the debates and processes. I plan to get better involved in the training, fringe events and exhibition stands at a future conference!

Having attended a Scottish Liberal Democrat Women’s event in August, I was approached by the Conference Convenor prior to the day and asked to introduce Willie Rennie as he made his leader’s speech. After a delay caused by a fire alarm and evacuation, I was used the opportunity to detail my own journey to membership and the friendly welcome I have received locally and at other events. If you are a local member who hasn’t attended any events as yet, I would encourage you to do so – everyone will be delighted to welcome you!

Following a typically rousing speech from new Federal Leader Tim Farron, the day ended with an emotional tribute to Charles Kennedy. This included photographs and recorded memories from senior MPs, as well as very touching recollections from friends in the hall.

A final chat with everyone over a glass of wine and I left tired, happy, energised and keen to develop the party locally.