Federal Party Autumn Conference 2020 - Day One
DAY ONE AT OUR ONLINE AUTUMN CONFERENCE
THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS ONLINE AUTUMN CONFERENCE KICKS OFF ON FRIDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER AT AT 14.15.
CONFERENCE WILL BE OPENED BY NEW PARTY PRESIDENT MARK PACK
Following preliminaries to approve new standing orders and arrangements for a holding a remote conference, attention will turn to Party Strategy and the hard questions the Party needs to address and put right following the 2019 General Election. A comprehensive Election Review was undertaken following the GE and the session will provide an opportunity for members to consider the Party's response so far and contibute their own input on how to put things right.
There are three main policy debates scheduled on Day One:
The first of these is on Improving Mental Health Support for Health and Care Staff
Moved by Spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing & Social Care, Munira Wilson MP.
This motion focuses upon the pressures, stresses and the high rates of PTSD on health and care workers and the additonal support required for these front line workers. Absence rates in the NHS were higher than in the rest of the economy before the Covid-19 crisis with anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illness accounting for nearly a quarter of staff absences.
The motion calls for the Covid-19 helpline to be made available 24/7, a signposting service to the support and resources for front line workers, a universal mental health support guarantee for workers, removal of the 'Bradford formula' used to discourage short, unplanned absences, an 'occupational passport' to help ease the transfer process of staff who have to relive mental health traumas to new jobs and access to mental health care prevention support with a qualified mental health first-aider in every setting.
Interview with Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
The second debate is on the Nature of Public Debate during COVID-!9
Moved by Spokesperson for Education, Daisy Cooper MP
(Note: Since the Agenda was published the Party has announced new spokespersons with Jamie Stone MP now responsible for Digital Culture, Media and Sport.)
The motion says, public trust in the UK government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis fell from 70% in mid April to 30% in June and less than half of Britons trusted the UK government to provide correct information on the pandemic. International criticism of the Goverment's approach was deemed centralised, complacent and incompetent with the PM defending his Chief Advisor for braeking the lockdown rules. The Government's Covid-19 strategy was considered slow and poor decision making ignored warnings from other countries resulting in one of the worst death tolls in the world.
The lines between scientific advice and political decisions have been blurred, conspiracy theories spread, selected journalists banned from Government press briefings and the channelling of state advertisements to the wealthiest press corporations with little reagrds for journalist's' jobs and value for money.
The motion calls for a commitment to more transparency and open government and an independent assessment of the Covid-19 pandemic performance and greater parliamentary scrutiny. Furthermore it calls for a review of SAGE appointments and composition to improve diversity, transparency and public trust and a requirement for the Chair of UK Statistics Authority to provide regular proactive comment on official statsitics during all such crises. The motion also calls for mechanisms to give the public greater voice during a crisis with the aim of building greater public consensus and trust. It also calls for the extension of co-regulation across all publishers and platforms and regular press conferences with nationwide poiltical invitees hosted by UK political journalist's on the German Bunderspressekonferenz model.
The third and final debate of the first day is on Universal Basic Income.
Moved by Adam Bernard
The motion says that the transition to a new low-carbon, high tech economy, post Covid-19 will require a more flexible and supportive social securty infrastructure with people empowered to embark on new careers, training and learning. The pandemic and resultant job losses has made the need for a greater scale of universal social support more necessary and a universal basic Income is considered the best way of guaranteeing income security with no-one left with insufficient income to feed, clothe and house themselves.
The motion calls for the party to work further on the details of the implementation of UBI and campaign for a socially just and equitable provison of UBI for all long-term UK residents. It says, UBI should be rolled out in a phased manner using best international evidence and integrated with other income support provisions. Finally, it calls for the party to continue campaigning for strong and accessible targetted income support mechanisms including among others effective housing and disability support payments.
As usual the Conference programme includes lots of opportunities for members to dip in or acquire new skills through online training, Q&A sessions with Party spokespeople and specialist and focussed presentations. Clearly social events this year are not possible but the fringe events do still include some lighter moments to enjoy.
Coming shortly - the review of day Two at PARTY Conference.
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