Question 7: What is your view on a move to delegate conferences (which, currently, is due to occur when the membership of the Party exceeds 25,000 continuously for a period of two years)?
Candidates for Leader
We need to plan ahead. My main concern is that we support our members and local parties so that any future delegate conferences will have full and fair representation from the regions (made up from local parties) and from a full range of interest groups. We will need to develop guidelines to protect the interests of our members and an open and transparent system for delegate selection and an agreed range of groups to have representation nationally.
I think delegate conferences are a good thing as the party continues to grow. My only concerns are that we have the structures in place to ensure delegates are properly elected, issues around costs of conference for party and delegates are clear, and non-delegate members are still able to attend.
We need to recognise that our current format for Conference is self selecting (based on those who have the time, interest and money to be able to attend). There are also drawbacks to delegate conferences too but we should aim for maximum democratic participation. I think we should make the switch once membership hits that level.
Having been Conferences Convenor, I am completely aware of the difficulty of finding suitable venues at an affordable cost. We have outgrown many good venues, and the task of keeping fees down whilst improving standards will become more difficult as we grow. When we reach 25,000 members, delegate conferences will be one of the few ways of managing this.
Candidates for Deputy Leader
I'm not in favour of delegate conferences. We must retain the distinction of being a grassroots party, even whilst growing quite rapidly. Conference is an inclusive forum for all members and would-be members to take part in decision making.?
I think we need a broader debate about how conference works. We talk about how party members still decide policy, but conference is only open to those who can afford the time and money to attend and are physically able to. Caring responsibilities also exclude many people. We need to look at how technology could help more people engage. I believe a move to delegate conferences could work but only if the structures were robust and this means better functioning regional and local party structures.
We have to think carefully about the idea of sending delegates to Conference. Having been a union delegate on a number of occasions it does not have to be a local party sending mandated delegates to conference but must enable people to go and vote as they see fit after listening to discussion.
No answer supplied.