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Looking back at Spring Conference

May 26, 2021 4:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Federal Conference Committee met on 25th May 2021 to consider the feedback from Spring Conference. It was an overflow meeting to deal with the business that could not be considered at the last meeting, which was constricted to facilitate campaigning for the Local Elections.

We discussed the feedback that we received from Spring Conference. We were very happy with it overall. We had attendees from 26 countries. The average person spent 15 hours at conference. In total, there were over 13,000 votes cast and over 17,500 chat messages. We came within 3% of our record attendance for a Spring Conference.

When asked whether they had had a good time, expressed as a mark out of five, over 88% marked conference as 3 or above, 66.5% as 4 or 5. 72% rated Hopin as good or very good and 92% of people had no major technical issues. 92% liked the balance of debates and speeches and 84% thought the auditorium experience was good or very good. 71% thought the fringe sessions were good or very good. 82% thought the registration price was about right and 95% were more proud or had the same feelings of pride about the party after conference as before. We were grateful to all of those who took the time and trouble to let us know their views. We have taken them on board.

The experiences of the exhibition were a lot more mixed. We recognise that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to recreate the experience of a physical exhibition online. We talked about ways to improve the exhibition experience. We talked about playing more exhibitor videos in the auditorium (and we are making those free for Autumn Conference), extending the sessions for the exhibition so that some overlap with the auditorium as at a physical conference, and encouraging exhibitors to use the chat feature to make their stalls more dynamic.

Turning to motions, it was proposed that we discontinue the practice of name blind selections. It was suggested that knowing from where prospective motions derived would allow the committee to take positive steps to select an agenda from more diverse sources, allowing us to counter the inbuilt bias towards motions written by those more familiar with the process, such as parliamentarians or FPC members. For example, a motion from a Local Party or an SAO could be preferred to one from a spokesperson on the same subject (given that many motions are regularly submitted from the Parliamentary Party). It was also observed that many people place their motions in the public domain anyway, which can defeat the object. On the other hand, name blind submissions can counter unconscious bias. The committee had a full discussion and there were many contributions. The vote was very tight. Overall, the majority was persuaded that ending name blind submissions would make for an agenda more likely to represent a wider range of more diverse sources of ideas in the party, and that was something that the committee wanted to encourage.

We decided that we would reserve speaking slots for guest speakers from the European Union and/or other European nations. We considered a number of really good suggestions from the International Office. Watch this space for further details.

Planning for Autumn Conference 2021 will now get underway in earnest. The deadline for drafting advice is 16th June and for motions, 30th June; both at 1pm. FCC will meet in July to select the agenda.