Why Brighton conference should be in your diary

August 25, 2022 5:14 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

It's thirty years since my first autumn federal conference, appropriately also in Brighton. That 1992 conference was the start of the most successful electoral run in our party's history - record-breaking Parliamentary by-election wins, sweeping local government gains and then a huge leap in the size of the Parliamentary Party as a tired, discredited, scandal-riven Conservative Party lost office.

As part of that run of success, two years later, we were back in Brighton again, as you may have seen from the recently rediscovered BBC footage of a younger version of me (more curls, larger glasses but the same green top that I still have - and can fit into) leafleting alongside one Liz Truss.

Repeating that previous success is our challenge in the next few years - and we've already made a tremendous start with our election wins last year and this. Huge thanks are due to all our candidates, agents and helpers for their hard work in making that happen - and to their families and colleagues for tolerating their absences on the campaign trail.

An important part of that success in the 1990s was our party conferences, providing such a great opportunity for us to learn new skills, to set our policy and strategy and to be energised by meeting colleagues from all around the country, and overseas too.

I can't guarantee that if you come to our Brighton conference this September you will also get to campaign with a future Conservative Party leader. But I can guarantee that you'll find an excellent conference agenda - both the formal agenda in the main hall of speeches and debates, and the training and fringe meetings that happen alongside it.

This time around we have an advantage - the ability to bring in an even wider range of participants through online access to conference. It's a huge credit to our conference committee that our return to an in-person conference is being accompanied by a new option for online access.

Enabling those who cannot afford the time or costs of an in-person conference to still access the event is an important part of making our aspirations on diversity and our commitment to internal democracy meaningful.

This time's agenda includes debates on Britain's future relations with the European Union, our pre-manifesto policy overview, action on climate change, the future of our nuclear deterrent and more. Keynote speakers include Kira Rudik, from one of our sister parties in Ukraine, and there will also be a chance for any party member to question Ed Davey in our Leader Q+A session.

More details are on the conference website, where you can also register to attend.

Whether in person or online, I look forward to seeing you at conference, hearing your views and taking part in our debates. Please don't hesitate to grab me for any questions you have, or drop me an email on [email protected].