Liberal Democrat conference: what you need to know

Tim Farron at Lib Dem Bournemouth 2015 conference. Image courtesy of the Lib Dems CC BY-ND 2.0

What is Lib Dem conference?

The Liberal Democrats hold two federal (i.e. UK-wide) party conferences a year, a weekend in the spring and a week in the autumn. All Liberal Democrat members can attend and vote, subject to paying the registration fee. The conferences are a mix of set-piece speeches, policy debates, fringe meetings, training events and more, and are organised by the Federal Conference Committee (FCC).

The next Lib Dem conference

The next Liberal Democrat conference is in Bournemouth, 16-19 September 2017.

There is a Conference Access Fund to help those who would otherwise not be able to afford to come to conference, and being a volunteer conference steward is another way of saving on costs for going to party conference.

Taking part in debates at conference

Any party member who registers to go to conference can then also put in a speaker’s card to speak in one of the formal debates in the main conference hall.

It is best to fill out the card and submit it well in advance of the debate as that greatly increases your chance of being called to speak. Details of where to get the speaker’s cards and where to submit them are in the conference agenda booklet published for each conference. See also these nine tips on speaking at Liberal Democrat conference.

In addition to these main debates, there are also usually more informal consultation sessions and also many fringe meetings. Speaking at these is usually a matter of putting your hand up and hoping to be called by the chair – so it is more possible to react to what you have heard and decide you have something to say; for the formal conference hall debates you need to plan more in advance.

7 reasons to come to Lib Dem conference

Not sure about coming to the next Liberal Democrat federal conference? Here are seven reasons why you should come to conference.

And for another take…

Liberal Democrat conference hashtags

The traditional hashtag to use on social media is #LDConf, but since the May 2015 general election #LibDemFightback has also become a popular hashtag to use at conference time as well as on other occasions.

Understanding conference jargon

A lot of jargon gets used at Liberal Democrat conferences, not always gratuitously but often super-charged with a topping of acronyms. This Liberal Democrat glossary should help.

Lib Dem policy making

For more about how the Liberal Democrat policy process works, see the guide from Jeremy Hargreaves.

Other Lib Dem conferences

In addition to the two Lib Dem federal conferences, the Scottish and Welsh parties, along with the English Party regions, hold their own conferences.

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Previous Liberal Democrat conferences

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