Back in the 1990s, the idea of theming different days of party conference around particular themes was a fairly controversial issue, even playing a role in contested elections for membership of Federal Conference Committee and then elections from within its membership for Chair and Vice-Chair.*
Since then the idea has become well-established, if sometimes more in theory than in practice. Looking through not just the agenda for the 2012 autumn conference in Brighton but also associated conference publications and planning, it looks like we’ll be seeing one of the most intensive efforts at organised theming for some time.
Four main days to theme (Saturday to Tuesday, with Wednesday being dominated by Nick Clegg’s speech) and, rather helpfully, four main topics the party is trying to concentrate on: jobs, education, environment and tax, sometimes referred to in internal shorthand as JEET (see edition #23 of Liberal Democrat Newswire for more).
The concentration on JEET, along with the use of a more consistent graphic design for party publications, is apparent more widely than simply the conference agenda. Whether you look at new party publications such as this excellent one on what is being done in government, direct mail from party HQ or official party emails, to name but three, there is increasingly the sort of consistency of appearance that goes without thinking in most organisations and yet traditionally has been extremely unusual in the party. (Aside from the positive benefits from consistency, it simply avoids lots of people wasting time coming up with their own graphical looks as if they’ve got so much free time it make sense to set some aside for their own private wheel reinvention session.)
As for conference, the schedule is:
- Saturday: education
- Sunday: environment
- Monday: jobs
- Tuesday: taxes
- Wednesday: Nick Clegg’s speech
More on the details later in the week. In the meantime, you can find the full Brighton conference agenda and directory here.
* Long-standing party members can take a trip down memory lane at this point, remembering colleagues such as Paul Beatty and my former landlady Catherine Brown who used to be on FCC.