Thursday, 2 June 2011

I may be approved, but I may not be accredited #ldconf

Some things that as a candidate I stood up for in the 2010 General Election as a Liberal Democrat, they are right there in our manifesto.

  •  Reduce time-wasting bureaucracy at police stations with better technology that can be deployed on the streets. (page 72)
  • Scrap intrusive Identity Cards and have more police instead, and also scrap plans for expensive, unnecessary new passports with additional biometric data (page 94)
  • End plans to store your email and Internet records without good cause (page 94)
  • Remove innocent people from the police DNA database and stop storing DNA from innocent people and children in the future (page 94)
  •  Scrap the intrusive Contact Point database which in intended to hold the details of every child. (page 94)
What I didn't sign up to was having a police force either now, or at some point in the future (as my "information will be retained and/or passed to other police forces in the future to assist with the accreditation of subsequent political conferences only") deciding that I even though deemed worthy by my local party am not trustworthy to attend and vote on their behalf by some policeman.

The guidelines stipulate that I have to give some form of ID. Passport, National Insurance Number or Driving Licence number. The police will then go through their records so see if I can attend my party conference.

Now in my long history I have been on a number of protest marches etc. Not all of them have ended up peacefully. Indeed there may have been one or two occassions in recent months that I have stood there against current government policy, because I don't always agree with Nick. However, whilst I myself have never been arrested, my presence may flash up next to a known agitator without my knowing it. After all there have been so many pictures taken of me as I walk the streets in recent years who can possibly tell.

If they use face recognition software on my stored passport photo, or the one that I have to resubmit to the "conference big brothers" who knows whom I may have inadvertently stood beside and I might get flashed up as a potential threat. Of course there are also the number of letters I have written to a number of constabularies about the handling of policing at football games. Of course never have I been complimentary when I wrote those letters, but critical of the way my fellow fans were getting treated. What if one of the officers who I've flagged up in the past takes offence at a citizen showing concern (or budding politician taking on casework)?

Now my UK passport history does include trips behind the Iron Curtain, before it fell and in the immediate aftermath. There is all sort of interesting activity on it recently, it has been used as photo id on a more frequent occurrences than in the past, my frequent flyer miles have been up since November. There was the stop and search at Stranraer harbour last August. Now of course I could use my Irish passport but that would bring up a whole other set of issues and I may get banned from a Liberal Democrat conference simply because some dissident Irish Republican Group wanted to threaten a partner in the UK Government.

Of course the fact that I am applying for a Northern Irish Local Party may cause eyebrows to be raised. After all you will not find reference to my local party on the Lib Dem Federal website. Go on try and but in the postcode for Parliament Buildings at Stormont BT4 3XX into the find your local party finder on the home page. Or scroll to the bottom of that page and click on the link to Northern Ireland, do you end up here or here?

So the possibility is that as  local party number 900 (Northern Ireland) somehow does not seem to exist on the party's own website some over officious bobby may create "the unlikely event that your accreditation is unsuccessful". Where then is my recourse, or my route of appeal? This is not listed on the eventsforce criteria, a site that looks like a Lib Dem site but needed a separate sign in to get to (we have an all encompassing log in which I was logged into at the time I'd just been on the Membership database).

In light of all this and the emails and info on the site ironically though I may be an approved candidate with the party, able to stand for election to Westminster or Holyrood. Though I have been selected now for a new local party to carry on as a voting rep. My accreditation lies in the hands of some police officer, not in the West Midlands where I once frequented Mosques as part of the day job, but from Greater Manchester (oops all those comments last saturday about the Champions League final from this Liverpool fan may stand against me).

Our party constitution states:

Article 6: The Federal Conference
6.1 The conference will consist of
(a) Representatives of Local Parties...
6.3 Representatives of Local Parties shall be elected by all members of the Local Party concerned...

Now there is nothing there about me being refused admission to party conference on the say so of some police force. There is no mention there that "The submission of the application form does not confer any right upon the applicant to attend the conference". The right for me to attend conference was conferred on me by the democratic action of my local party last December when they elected me to be a Federal Conference rep along with 3 others. So even as an approved candidate of 6 years standing, doesn't mean I can automatically assume accreditation for conference*. What if being one of the 104 public objectors becomes a criteria to refuse entry?

I first read 1984 on my way to one of my earliest Lib Dem conferences. I never thought Sheffield would have been topped, I appear to have been wrong. But looking at the comments from Caron, Jennie, Spidey, Jonathan, and David I am not alone in my concern (looks like no bloggers may get accredited).

Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to see if I can scan my JSA documentation, because in the words of Caron I'm not going to boycott, because I'm not going to let party policy be decided soley by those who think these measures are ok and 'liberal'. I need to be in it to win it, or at least try to be in it. Wish me luck, I'll need it after no debits from my account for Olympic tickets.

Update There is now a petition to keep Liberal Democrat Conference Liberal please go and sign it.

* There's something about the sportsman in me that says I'm not playing until I see the teamsheet.

1 comment:

  1. I have a removed a comment from Neil Craig because as ever it is factual inaccurate and libelous against me on this occassion. If he wishes to take those comments further I will be seeing him in court.