Lib Dem Fightback

Wendy at the Conference

Wendy at the Conference

By Wendy Chamberlain

Having joined the party last year following the UK General Election, I attended the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in the Autumn, but was keen to experience a Federal Conference. I was therefore delighted to have the opportunity to attend the Spring Conference last month in York, something that I would encourage all members to do at some point if you can – there is an access fund that helps those who may find it cost prohibitive.

I travelled down to York on Friday afternoon, dropped my bags at my B&B nearby and headed straight to the York Barbican for the Civic Reception. Caron Lindsay, Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and known to many Dunfermline and West Fife Liberal Democrats was my Newbie buddy for the weekend, and I met with her there. I then dropped into the First Timers reception and was really impressed by the numbers there, and that many of those there were members of longstanding, who had decided to attend for the first time. It was also great to have addresses from both Sal Brinton and Tim Farron – it really made us feel valued as a group.

The Conference rally was the main event on Friday night. This was focussed on the upcoming European Referendum – the speakers were hugely impressive, particularly current Welsh AM Eluned Parrott and Saleyha Ahsan –  a junior doctor who handed her membership form to Tim Farron from the stage! After dinner with Caron and some of her friends from across the UK, it was back to my B&B to actually unpack.

I was keen to use the Saturday to attend training and fringe events as well as the main conference agenda, so after attending the official conference opening in the Barbican main hall, I headed round the corner to the Novotel and a session hosted by Liberal Democrat Women with former MP Tessa Munt about becoming a candidate – very empowering and Tessa encouraged all attendees to keep in touch. Another session at the Hilton was run by the central elections team focussed on the Scottish Welsh and London Assembly elections. Unfortunately the debate on fracking was taking place at the same time, so it wasn’t particularly well attended. I did find out, however, that Limekilns was the most Lib Dem part of the Dunfermline constituency when Jim Tolson won the seat in the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections!

I then popped over to another Liberal Democrat Women event looking forward to the Electing Diverse MPs motion the following day. I was really encouraged by the turn out – standing room only! – as well as the range of opinions expressed. Off back to the Barbican (I should have had a pedometer attached to me!) for lunch and a look at the exhibition. There I obtained Joined the History Association and was directed to purchase my Liberator songbook for the infamous Glee Club.

I then spent the afternoon in Conference main hall. This included a really personable Q&A session with Tim Farron. As a former police officer I was keen to attend the Privacy and Security in a Digital Age debate, moved by Lord Paddick, and again I was really impressed by the variety of speakers – including a number of first time speakers – who always got a round of applause – and party members with a wealth of experience in the subject area.

I actually managed an hour or so back at my accommodation, before heading out again for the late night Glee Club – this is a conference tradition, and I was assured that I had to attend it once to fully experience conference – I would recommend that you do the same!

Caron Lindsay moved the most divisive and emotive debate of the conference – Electing Diverse MPs. Although the measures outlined were less radical than those approved at the Scottish Spring Conference there was a  great deal of debate and strong speakers on both sides, including a group of Liberal Youth wearing I Am Not a Token Woman tshirts. Current legislation only allows for shortlisting on the basis of gender and disability, and the motion was passed with an amendment to campaign to extend current legislation for all under represent groups. I did submit a card, and although not selected, was happy to have used my vote to support the motion.

Tim’s speech was brilliant and it was great to see the full hall – as I tweeted from the event: @nick-clegg 8th May 2015 your speech made me join @LibDems @timfarron your speech today made me proud that I did!

And that was it, by 1pm all over, back on the train and back home after along but exhilarating weekend!

Conference Attendees

Conference Attendees

Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference

We are fortunate to have the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference taking place this Saturday at the Vine Venue in Dunfermline. We would encourage all Dunfermline Lib Dem members to take the opportunity to come along. You can find out more details at this link.

 

Dunfermline Liberal Democrat AGM

This year’s AGM has been announced to take place on the 12 November. We would encourage all local members to come along and help shape the direction of the Dunfermline Liberal Democrats. The AGM will help us decide on Office Bearers and Committee Members. If you want more information please contact myself at james@dunfermlinelibdems.org.uk

Last week the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference took place in Bournemouth. The first Conference since both the General Election and also the election of Tim Farron as our new Party Leader, this featured inspiring speeches from a number of figures, including of course Tim as well as Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie.With Britain facing illiberal Governments in both Westminster and Holyrood, the theme of the Conference naturally focussed on the importance of liberalism and the Liberal Democrats in a society where the politics of division and fear were allowed to take centre stage in the General Election.

Tim Farron, in his first Conference speech since becoming Party Leader, discussed a number of topics, including his own background to becoming a Liberal, our contribution in the last Government, the importance on speaking up for the poor and disadvantaged, the upcoming EU referendum and the current refugee crisis.

Tim noted our Government achievements, including lifting millions of the poorest workers out of income tax altogether, legalising same-sex marriage, free school meals for millions of children and of course helping to make Britain the fastest growing economy in the G7.

After he continued to mention where we as Liberal Democrats are looking to achieve in the future – including improving rail infrastructure, increasing affordable housing, having Britain take a more liberal and caring stance towards refugees, working towards keeping Britain in the EU in the upcoming referendum, supporting green initiatives and of course making sure we are in a position of power to ensure a Liberal future.

You can watch Tim’s speech in the video above.

Willie Rennie’s speech focussed on a number of issues facing Scotland currently. This includes failures in Scotland’s mental health services, policing and education under the SNP Government, as well as the SNP’s illiberal plans for the Super ID database. He then continued to discuss Liberal Democrat plans for the 2016 Scottish election. This includes getting Mental Health taken seriously, restoring democracy to Scottish policing, empowering public sector workers and bringing childcare and the Pupil Premium to those who need it.

You can read Willie’s speech on this link.

By Tom Leatherland

As you will probably know, we’ve got just two MP’s vying to lead our party after Nick Clegg has stepped down as leader. With typical Libdem openness, the two of them are participating in a series of hustings events across the UK, before members votes have to be in by the 15th July.

There was an excellent turnout of members for the Edinburgh hustings, including a good group from Dunfermline, which included at least one member who’s joined since the election. The format of the hustings was simple: each candidate gave a 10 minute presentation, with the other out of the room, and then both answered a series of questions from the floor for the balance of the two hours scheduled.

I guess I’m not alone in having seen more of Tim Farron than Norman Lamb, over the last few years, simply because Tim was our Party President. Then on Friday evening, Norman was on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Any Questions’ programme to which I paid particular attention. He gave several excellent answers which were very well received by the London audience. I was impressed. His leadership bid is also backed by Baroness Shirley Williams who I’ve seen many times, and hold in high regard. I was realising what a strong leadership candidate he is, and he’s clearly well regarded within his Norfolk constituency, as well as by all those who know him for his work in promoting the cause of treating mental health problems.

Tim Farron’s leadership bid is backed by Willie Rennie – another whom I hold in high regard and who has demonstrated sound judgement. So I was paying attention to what both had to say at the hustings. Both gave powerful, liberal, opening addresses. That really didn’t help differentiate them.

Then came the questions, and what a good array of searching questions on widely differing subjects they were, covering personal, political and policy issues. Back came the answers; good liberal answers from them both, but nuances and delivery styles were inevitably different. Both clearly recognised the threat of climate change and renewables, but steered clear of the tricky issue of nuclear power (my views on that may differ from the Party’s!).  During the course of the morning, my feeling that we’ve got two strong leadership contenders was confirmed, and I learned a bit more about the background of both of them. Our party should be safe with either of them, but I have to make a choice and cast my vote for one of them.

James Calder campaigning for the Lib Dem fightback

James Calder campaigning for the Lib Dem fightback

Since the polls closed, an unprecedented 13,000 people have signed up to join the Lib Dems, helping to help shape the new Lib Dem fightback.

James Calder, Dunfermline Lib Dem activist has commented, ‘It is brilliant to see so many people join the Lib Dems since the election. While I am naturally disappointed with our results, it heartens me to see that so many people agree with me that it is important to see a strong Liberal voice in our Parliament at a time when the Tories are attacking civil liberties through the Snoopers Charter at UK level and SNP are threatening our freedoms with their Super ID databases at Scottish level.’

‘If you agree with me that we need to campaign hard to maintain our hard won freedoms, I urge you to join the Lib Dems today in our fightback for liberal values.’

If you are interested in joining the Lib Dems, please either follow this link or contact James Calder at james@dunfermlinelibdems.org.uk to discuss further.