Demystifying conference motions: new guide published for Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth

The grassroots Your Liberal Britain group has already run some great schemes such as to get members engaged in the party’s policy process and the Online Champions scheme in the general election.

Today Sam and the team have launched something new and very welcome. It’s a plain English guides to the motions being debated at the party’s forthcoming federal conference in Bournemouth.

The length, structure and standard vocabulary of conference motions means they both have a vernacular which old hands often find easy to follow but which people newer to motions (and let’s not get into how many party members weren’t even born in the year in which I read my first one…) can find baffling.

It’s telling, for example, how often the crunch vote is on something buried in the middle of a sentence in the middle of a section in the middle of a motion. That doesn’t exactly make it easy for someone reading motions in advance to spot what the parts are they really might want to pay attention to.

So Your Liberal Britain has worked with the proposers of motions to put together a clear guide to what each motion is about. It’s a great idea. I’m sure there will be things to learn from the first time it’s been done (such as whether the motions themselves could be clearer in the first place), but let’s hope it is just that – the first time, not the one and only time.

Here’s an extract from their blurb followed by the full guide:

It’s fair to say: one of the greatest things about the Lib Dems is our party’s approach to giving every member an equal voice in shaping who we are and what we stand for. Twice a year, the party puts this approach into practice by giving every member the opportunity to propose a motion to Conference, outlining their vision for a new policy, or way for the party to work.

But motions can be heavy reading; often long, technical, and generally inaccessible. We think every member should have the same opportunity to access, read and make sense of every motion put before them, and the ability to have an informed debate around each one, before they cast their vote. These motions help shape our party, after all.

So to that end, here’s a simple document we prepared to help you do just that; in it you’ll find easily accessible text and a descriptive summary for each motion up for debate at Autumn Conference 2017.

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