We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Climate Change, Brexit, A Defector, The NHS and Mental Health, more Climate Change and Railways - My Conference Report

September 20, 2019 9:53 PM
By James Archer - PPC for Erewash

It has been a very hectic last two weeks for me, I attended my candidate assessment, received confirmation that I had passed and have been appointed as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for Erewash, and then it was off to Bournemouth by train for the autumn conference for my first time at conference.

Conference was fantastic, I was one of 3,234 members in attendance and one of over 900 first time attendees at conference. My first day started with the first-time attendees guide to making the most of conference, which included a tour of the conference centre. The tour got to the back entrance to the conference centre just as Jo Swinson was making a triumphant entrance to the conference centre, to much applause and cheering.

I nipped out of the tour before the end to go into the main hall to watch my first debate of the Conference on Business Rate Reform, an important area where fairer taxes are desperately needed, the motion was passed. The day then took a Climate Change dominated turn with Wera Hobhouse, our Climate Change spokesperson's speech to conference. Then it was off to a fringe workshop on campaigning on Climate Change.

The highlight of the first day was the packed members rally where Sam Gyimah was revealed as the latest defector from the Conservative party, and after the first of two cracking speeches by Jo. Then it was off to the first-timers reception, for the second speech from Jo and a free drink, and a chance to meet a few of the other 900 first time attendees.

The Sunday started with the debate on stopping Brexit to save the NHS. Which included commitments to treat mental health with as high priority as physical health and fund social care as well prevent the NHS losing workers by stopping Brexit.

After this I attended a lunchtime fringe event hosted by the National Education Union on Toxic Testing in education, highlighting the huge ammiunt of testing in Education and the predominance of teaching to the test. Then after an afternoon training session on writing a candidate profile, it was off to here our most recently elected Liberal Democrat MP Jane Dodds, leader of the Lib Dems in Wales.

MEP Speed dating was the last event of my day, an odd concept, but it was very busy. Sadly our East Midlands MEP Bill Newton-Dunn was unavailable, but it was a fantastic opportunity to talk to some of the rest of our 14 new MEPs.

Monday started with a debate on protecting Small Music Venues a topic close to my heart, given we have recently lost the Maze in Nottingham and have several smaller venues in Erewash. I voted to pass the motion along with everyone else in the hall as the motion passed unanimously.

Then the most important motion of the conference, the motion to endorse our strategy to fight climate change, the strategy and policy paper outlines in detail how we can achieve net-zero emissions by 2045. There were four amendments proposed of which the first was an amendment to change the target date for net-zero to 2040. However this amendment did not set out how to get there. The key with the strategy is action now to deal with 90% of emissions that we can eliminate, the most difficult 10% is what dominates the final target date. Indeed on reflection I have come to see it as more of a limit not a target, and without proposing any additional measures I didn't see how a more stringent limit could be supported.

The evening provided a choice of receptions I attended the Green Liberal Democrats reception where I met, my fellow East Midlands Parliamentary Candidate, Jason Billin, who is candidate in Rushcliffe.

I'd been told the previous weekend, at my candidate assessment, that I must attend the glee club. Glee club for those that don't know this liberal sing-song involves singing along to parody songs, some of them quite rude about the party, its opponents and its history. It wasn't really my thing, a little too tame. I did bump into our newest Liberal Democrat MP Sam Gyimah at Glee Club though.

Sam Gyimah MP (Left) with James Archer PPC for Erewash (Right)

Tuesday the final day of the conference there was a moving tribute to Paddy Ashdown who died in January of this year. A motion on building Railways Fit for the 21st century which included a commitment to electrification, simplification of fares and to ensuring public scrutiny of large railway engineering projects such as HS2.

The conference closed with a rousing speech by Jo Swinson to a packed main hall, touching on all the main issues of conference and promising a well-being budget in government. Then it was out into the sunshine of a glorious day in Bournemouth and back on the train to Long Eaton.