From a fringe idea back in 2015 when David Howarth and I talked about it in our pamphlet on party strategy, through to being a minority taste receiving plenty of criticism 18 months ago to… today in York, Liberal Democrat conference voted to create a registered supporters scheme.
By 453-327 (a very high turnout for a conference counted vote of 780), members voted to allow registered supporters to apply to be on policy working groups.
By 513-245 (just breaking the two-thirds majority required), members also voted to allow new members to apply to be Parliamentary candidates – and so go through the usual approval and selection processes – rather than having to wait 12 months before being able to do so.
The highest profile elements – changing the rules over party leader – did not get the required two-thirds majority. (In case you are wondering why in my speech I didn’t touch on these very much, I was speaking on behalf of the Federal Board, which was split and so neutral on these provisions.)
But as I’ve always said, for me the big issue is about creating a registered supporters scheme – and unlocking the benefits that can flow from that.
All credit to Geoff Payne for his excellent chairing of the debate, making a complicated series of votes easy to follow.
Now I’m off to pay my fine for the factual error in my speech…
P.S. Here’s the sign-up page now for supporters: https://www.libdems.org.uk/support
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