Sunday, September 17, 2017

Some thoughts in advance of Federal International Relations Committee

So, word has got out that I resigned as Secretary of the Committee, and "Liberator" has reported the story in their usual style. If you're interested, and I'm not sure that the resignation of a minor figure on an obscure internal party committee is particularly newsworthy, you can read the story there. However, my first meeting since then takes place this morning, and I ought to let you know what I'll be focussing on there.

My aim since being elected to the Committee at the end of last year has been to try and enable it to fulfil its functions and comply with the Party's Constitution. It isn't glamorous, but it is important - drafting standing orders, creating process sufficient to deliver key goals, that sort of thing. And, naturally, that work is ongoing.

And now, my attention turns to policy. Federal International Relations Committee is expected to advise the Party, and the Parliamentary Parties, on international and European policy, and I'm keen to make us relevant to the debate. That means developing policy in conjunction with Federal Policy Committee, it means drafting and submitting motions to Party Conferences, it means looking at potential future issues and considering how a liberal response would look.

We aren't alone in that. Word reaches me that the "Your Liberal Britain" team are looking into the creation of a number of committees, focusing on particular policy areas. There are also specialist groups in the Party, such as the various "Friends of" groups and the Liberal Democrat European Group, which have an interest in elements of international policy.

And so, I'm proposing the formation of a Policy sub-committee, tasked with coming up with new policy ideas, studying current priorities and seeking a clearer picture of what we should be doing in terms of a response. It would also take a lead on drafting resolutions for debate at ALDE Party and Liberal International Congresses, using our time more effectively and in a more organised way.

At the moment, FIRC doesn't really consider policy in an organised way - there just isn't enough time and, in any event, good policy making is organic and evolutionary, rather than impulsive.

Apart from that, we've got a very busy agenda, with three ALDE guests participating in the meeting - Timmy Dooley and Henrik Bach Mortensen, two of Ros's fellow Vice-Presidents, and Bart Somers, a prominent liberal mayor from Mechelen, in Belgium. There'll be planning for the forthcoming ALDE Party Congress in Amsterdam in early December, and a delegation is being put together in anticipation.

We'll also be talking about the future of Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats, who are undergoing something of a remodelling following a large increase in their membership. A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to come up with a structure that allows them optimal autonomy whilst addressing key compliance issues, and I'm hoping that a way forward will emerge this week.

So, much to do, and much to be getting on with...

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