Here’s the report I’ve done for the party website following this evening’s Federal Board meeting:
Plans for Liberal Democrat autumn conference on hold, online options to be explored instead
In the light of the coronavirus epidemic, the Federal Board has decided to put on hold plans for the preparation of a traditional party conference in the autumn and will make a final decision on whether to cancel the event in May.
In the meantime, the Federal Conference Committee will consider the feasibility of an online event, which might include some elements of a formal conference.
Part of that will be the way in which the key elements of party accountability might operate online if a traditional party conference did not go ahead.
A final decision will be made in May once those plans have been developed, taking into account both what is practical to organise online and the latest state of public health advice about large groups gathering together.
In the meantime, party members, supporters and other attendees are advised against booking any travel or accommodation for the autumn conference.
The reference to accountability is an important one as sessions such as the Federal Board report, when members can hold us to account for our decisions, are at their most important at times of difficult big decisions. Similarly, in normal times the conference would have to vote on a new set of appointments to the Federal Appeals Panel. Again, in difficult times having a fully functioning appeals panel is important, a point I emphasised in the meeting.
As it will take some time and much hard work to figure out in detail what an online event could look like, the Board (which has the power to cancel conferences, though FCC organises them) wanted those details worked out first before a final decision.
But in the meantime, please note that final point about not making bookings for travel, hotels etc.
This wasn’t the only topic we discussed; more news to come on our other work later in the week.
UPDATE: It’s going online.