The crowds are flooding through the doors. The good news is that they are leaving the hall … because it’s a sure sign of a party’s financial state whether people are coming or going. Bad times: people come in. Good news: people leave.
The vote: motion is overwhelmingly carried.
Pete Dunphy summates on the motion: points out the increase is only a recommended one, and people can pay the same or less if they wish. However, it is important to raise funds for the general and local elections.
Maureen de Beer: also opposes the increase, particularly in a time of recession and given how it always seems to be going up.
Robert Adamson: speaks against the increase in the recommended subscription, saying the party needs to recognise anger over MPs’ expense claims by paying penance and asking MPs to contribute instead.
Membership subscriptions and federal levy motion: again moved by Duncan Greenland. Proposes keeping minimum, youth and student and concessionary subscription rates the same, raising the recommended subscription rate from £50 to £52 and keeping in place the higher federal levy in order to raise funds for fighting local elections.
The report is then passed by Conference. No standing ovation this time, but five very enthusiastic people clap loudly and long. From the backs of their heads, I suspect they are FFAC members. (UPDATE! UPDATE! Three of the clappers have rushed up to rebut any suggestions that they are FFAC members. They are members of other federal committees.)
Question 3 – why Maestro card payments are not accepted on the party website: There had been an intermittent problem and so it was thought best to remove the option until the underlying problem is fixed as part of a new site due to go live in October.
Question 2 – checking of the permissibility of donations to the party: Duncan Greenland says that a new procedure has been introduced since 2005 in order to check large donations for both legal and political acceptability. Criteria have been drawn up, including not accepting donations with strings and not accepting donations from people whose own behaviour is at odds with the party’s values. If a donor is not a known person to the party, written references may be asked for.
Question 1 – environmental best practice at party HQ: Duncan Greenland goes through the measures taken recently, including the purchase of a smart meter so that energy consumption can be more closely monitored. However, being in a listed building imposes significant constraints. He promises that if it is technically possible, he will report back in future years on annual energy consumption and how it has changed.
Duncan Greenland moves the Federal Finance and Administration Committee report. He highlights how the party’s overdraft is simply there for handling short-term general election cash flow issues. Unlike the other two main parties, the Liberal Democrats do not have large accumulated historic debts. He also talks about the party’s membership growing for two consecutive quarters so far this year, for the first time since 2005. His report receives a one-person standing ovation. (Yes, really.)