“All ministerial speeches for the conference will have been cleared with the Conservatives in advance, as part of the coalition process! !!!
Says it all really 🙁
The Liberal Democrats will debate their stance on NHS reform next week at their conference but will not be allowed to consider or vote on any specific motion regarding the bill due before the Lords later this autumn.
The party’s elected federal conference committee at the weekend rejected an appeal to permit any motion to call for further changes to the bill passed by the Commons last week. The committee instead accepted a proposal by the former head of the party’s local government movement, Richard Kemp, that a one-hour general debate be added to the agenda rather than the brief Q&A session planned.
Some activists want a vote on a motion that would give Lib Dem peers a mandate to resist parts of the bill, but officials said the committee had ruled the issue was not an emergency, and policy had been established at the spring conference. Activists may challenge this at the start of conference. The leadership would prefer to have it recognised that a previous Lib Dem rebellion gained big concessions, and that it would strain the patience of the Conservatives, the party’s coalition partner, to demand further reform.
Norman Lamb, parliamentary aide to Nick Clegg, had threatened to resign over the original reforms, but now he argues that the bill is not the key to the health issue. “By far the bigger threat to the NHS lies in the challenge posed by the need to cut £20bn from the budgets. This has never been achieved before. It is in every one’s interest that the focus is on the money.”
He added that the bill’s reform timetable had been delayed “so giving government greater time to see how the early GP consortia get on and what works well”.
He insisted that a debate without a motion would still be able to send a clear message. He added it was ludicrous to suggest the bill threatened the destruction of the NHS as suggested by campaign groups such as 38 degrees.
Lamb accepted the mood at the conference in Birmingham will not be euphoric, but determined, adding recent evidence had shown the junior partners had not been patsys. The party is still in single figures in the polls, but thinks over the next three years it will win respect for being a serious centrist in government.
The conference slogan “In government and on your side” will be matched by a series of announcements designed to show the party is on the side of the low paid and middle class. Privately they are delighted that the Tories have chosen to revisit the idea of removing the 50p tax rate for the super-rich since it gives the party a chance to define itself as the coalition partners on the side of the hard working majority.
He added there were no voices in the party calling for Clegg to quit the coalition. He said he was sure “in time people will see that by going into government we secured stability at an incredibly riskiy time. If you look at what is happening across Europe, we have a stable political situation in this country and this is really important”.
The party is also expected to discuss two emergency motions on the riots and phone hacking.
All ministerial speeches for the conference will have been cleared with the Conservatives in advance, as part of the coalition process.
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