Longer term Liberal Democrat bloggers will remember the evocatively named 'Moonlight over Essex', the blog of Cllr Chris Black, from Rayleigh, a not particularly notable area of Liberal Democrat support. And, having passed through Rayleigh earlier today, I was reminded of his blog (Chris, if you're reading this, hope that all is well with you and your colleagues!). Hence, the title...
This evening's meeting of International Relations Committee was an unusual one, possibly because we spent quite a lot of time on discussions of an organisational and functional nature. As part of the Party's Governance Review, Sal Brinton, in her capacity as Party President, has been meeting with various groups to discuss possible input and likely implications. And tonight, it was our turn.
I have to admit that I hadn't read the current document (habitual Party bureaucrat in 'not paying attention to constitutional stuff' outrage...), but quickly speed read through it to find the key principles. It seems that IRC will become a sub-committee of the proposed new Federal Board (not much different to its current position as a sub-committee of Federal Executive) but there was talk of business plans and more directly elected representation (only five of us are directly elected by Federal Conference delegates at present - myself included). A business plan is certainly a radical concept for IRC, which can be a bit of a talking shop given the lack of connection between it and the relevant backbench committees in Parliament. I personally don't get a sense that we are taken terribly seriously by the foreign affairs enthusiasts in either the Commons or the Lords, and thus don't need to be considered.
But, it was resolved that we would submit some feedback, individual and collective, to the Compliance Review in the next month (note to self, read current document...). I also noted that we need to think much more about our role and purpose, and others raised the issue of what mechanisms might be necessary to improve access and increase diversity.
Discussion then turned to my paper on future ALDE delegation makeup. The general sense seemed to be that the paper wasn't bad, but needed more consideration. In the meantime, my proposals for the 2016 ALDE Council delegation was endorsed by a rare IRC vote, 7-1, after which we were advised as to who the delegates now are. I am not one of them, although I am first reserve and have been led to believe that I might get to be Sal Brinton's understudy in Vilnius in early June. Frankly, I'll be there anyway as consort to the Vice-President, but I enjoy Council (a bureaucrat's natural environment) and like to think that I punch above my weight there.
We then had reports from the International Office on its work with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, and from the Liberal Democrat 'Remain' team - all very interesting but not really appropriate for publication yet, I'd suggest. Besides, if you want to know what the International Office get up to, I strongly recommend their reports in Liberal Democrat Voice.
Verbal reports from various groups followed before, almost miraculously, we were done just before eight o'clock - IRC Chair, Robert Woodthorpe Browne, runs a tight ship when it comes to getting through the business. That left me with enough time to catch a civilised(ish) train back to mid-Suffolk and write this meeting report. Quick enough for you, Dr Pack?...
Well hello Mark, so nice to be remembered.
I'm afraid "Moonlight Over Essex" dropped by the wayside due to pressure of time , but our local blog www.onlinefocus.org is still going strong (at about 4,300 posts).
And I'm still part of our rather small Lib Dem group on Rochford RC. (OK there's only two of us at the moment, but we have a good feeling about the elections next week).
Kind regards from Essex.....
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