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Why we need to make conference accessible

September 27, 2015 2:09 PM
By Gareth Stuart Ogg in Liberal Democrat Voice

This year conference was the most attended, compared to previous years.

I myself attended conference for a day or two. As a student I did find it somewhat grudging to pay nearly £500 for three days to attend. I did however not find it massively damaging to my wallet, this is not the case for many members of the party.

Due to the fact I could afford to go (and as a voting rep) it meant that I as an individual had more of a voice than those who couldn't travel to Bournemouth. One member one vote passed which is great! But it still means that only those who can afford to take time off work, and the cost, will be able to make use of this. As a democratic party surely conference should be accessible. Why should members not be allowed to use their vote because they can't afford sky high travel prices or a hotel in a tourist town or even to take time off work?

Is it not about time that we as a party move towards an electronic ballot for motions? Before you start to say "Oh no, what about corruption!" let me first say that corruption is unlikely, as such a system would require members to fill in their membership number. Just like they did when getting a conference pass. Such a system would cost a lot to start off with, but surely alienating members on a financial basis is worse than spending money to ensure every member gets a vote! We keep saying policy is made by members. So why should those who can afford to go (to conference) decide party policy? Surely every member should!

It's not really one member one vote when only those who can afford to go can use their vote.

* Gareth-Stuart Ogg is Vice President (Comms) of Liberal Youth Scotland and a member in Dundee.