Spring Conference - York

Spring Conference 2017 Newbie Special

This year Lib Dems from all over the country will once again descend on York this Spring for a weekend of for fun, policy, debate, training and (most likely) drink! Once again there will be record breaking numbers of Newbies and First Time Attendees!
Going to conference is incredibly fun, giving you a chance to chat to people who you may only see once or twice a year, or to meet people in real life who you only ever talk to on Twitter or Facebook (I’m not the only one to have started talking to someone before realising that they have no idea who I am as I’ve only ever spoke to them online… Am I???). It is also the serious policy making heart of our Party, and sets us apart from other parties. If you have never been you might think it isn’t for you, however I can confirm that it absolutely is for you, and the shorter Spring format is ad ideal taster.
Attending your first conference can be bit daunting so I thought I’d set out a few thoughts about things to do, what to expect, and a few tips from my first time and from a few others here at Newbie HQ. This is by no means exhaustive and I’d recommend also reading Caron Lindsay’s excellent articles about conference on Lib Dem Voice here and here.
 
Things to do…
Lib Dem Pint – Friday 17th March 2016 19:00-23:00
To mark the start of conference Newbie HQ have arranged a social event to welcome members new and old to York. As those who follow #LibDemPint events know it is traditional to secure a speaker for these events and for Brighton we have a cracking line up with some new members speaking, and some VERY well known members speaking. Taking place at Revolution York, you can find full details here, respond to the Facebook event, and book your free ticket here (Space is limited so make sure you book a place).
First Timers FCC Q&A – Friday 17th September 16:45-17:30
Your chance to quiz the Federal Conference Committee on all things conference or about how the party works in general.
 
Members Rally – Friday 17th March 2016 18:30-19:30
Technically a fringe event the members rally is a set of speeches by a variety of speakers that is a way of energising everyone who has come to conference. I promise it is a lot more fun than I’m making it sound!
 
First Timers Reception – Friday 17th March 2016 After Rally
If you are a first time attendee you should have already received an invite to this event, and is sadly only for first timers. Whilst billed as a session to orientate new comers to conference and to answer any questions you might have this was probably my highlight of York’s Spring conference this year. As well as answering your questions and meeting other people who are at their first conference too it’s a great chance to hear the likes of Sal Brinton (and Andrew Wiseman) up close and to get a free drink or 2. To my surprise this wasn’t a whistle stop drop in my Tim fresh from his Rally speech he hung around for a long time chatting to people and posing for numerous selfies and if that is what you are after (and let’s face it who doesn’t want a selfie with the leader?) this is your best bet.
Tim Hallam, James Harvey, Tim Farron, Chris Cooke, Ross Shipman
 
Conference itself – Saturday 18th – Sunday 19th March
There is lots on offer and too much to list highlights as that will depend on what you want to get out of the 1 1/2 days. I would recommend that to get the most out of your time try and attend at least 1 of each type event from social events, fringe events, training, consultations, speeches, and policy debates.
 
Tips…
Some of these tips are my own and others from members of Newbie HQ and as such are offered with no guarantee!
  • If at a loose end head to the conference bar. There will always be lots of people milling around to chat to. Don’t be afraid to talk to other members that you don’t know – Lib Dems may have strange taste in foot wear but the never bite!
  • Find out who from your local party or region is also going and make arrangements to meet up early in the weekend that way you know you’ll have a touch point early on and can arrange further meet ups then.
  • Plan but plan in pencil, things will change as you talk to people and do things.
  • Read the motion papers and get hold of conference daily. I know it seems a bit dull at first, but if you want to follow any of the policy debates you really need to have read the motion and the amendments. Some of this can sound complicated, and it is, but after a couple of sessions it will start to make sense.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak on a motion. The phrase “This is my first conference” or “this is my first time speaking at conference” in your opening statement will be bound to get you a cheer and boost your confidence.
  • Make sure you eat, drink and sleep! With everything going on and sessions running from early morning to past midnight it can seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day! Make sure you allow time to get some food, many fringe events offer food and some offer drinks (be it coffee or wine) and these can be vital pit stops as well and interesting sessions.
  • Be prepared for a lot of selfies, if you come across any of Newbie HQ we will be sure to grab a selfie with you!
My final piece of advice is relax and enjoy it. Yes conference is serious and critical to the functioning of our party, but it can also be a hell of a lot of fun!
If you have any tips of your own please add them in the comments section.
See you all in York this weekend!
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