Thursday, 8 January 2009

A committee that's extremely interesting

On 6th January the Federal Policy Committee flexed its muscles in reaffirming opposition to university tuition fees - indeed extending the policy to opposition to part-time and further education fees as well. I was there, and I found it refreshing after quite a long period of that committee being rather tame. It has suddenly become extremely interesting. I don't think media observers really understand how the Lib Dem policy-making process works - they think the MPs do it. Not really. The party constitution is a dull read, but it was cleverly made, and it contains the key to where policy-making power within the party lies. The body that approves policy is the Conference, and the body that supervises policy preparation is the Federal Policy Committee, and the group with the built-in majority on that committee is, or are, the members directly elected by the grassroots. So the policy process is controlled by the grassroots all the way, although the grassroots don't always realise or use their power. But sometimes they do, which is (partly) why this is a very democratic party, and nothing like the Tory party, and never will be anything like it, I am glad to say. A pity the present FPC wasn't in situ when the Trident issue last came up...

1 comment:

Left Lib said...

It is fascinating.
After the vote at Bournemouth to agree to cut public spending, it is hard to believe that the FPC behaves in this way. I do wonder how they plan to cut spending without targetting students. I wonder if the party leadership can get spending cuts through the FPC, or if they will have to circumvent them at the last minute when the manifesto is published