This is a vital time for us to get Lib Dem policy on tax changed. While we are in Government, we may influence Conservatives in the Coalition, several of whom are persuaded (intellectually, if not electorally) of the merits of Land Value Taxation (LVT).
But we have our own internal elections coming up, in our own Party. Every new policy proposal has to be referred to the Federal Policy Committee (FPC), before it goes to Federal Conference Committee (FCC) who organise the conferences where 'voting conference representatives' (voting reps) have a vote on whether it becomes official party policy. FPC also have a major say in UK General Election Manifesto production.
Federal Committees like FPC and FCC are mainly elected by those same voting reps, every two years - with the minority of their members either elected by Lib Dem councillors or Parliamentarians. Autumn 2012 sees the election to FPC of the people whose votes will have a major influence on what the Tax Policy Working Group (TPWG) is allowed to present to Conference next autumn.
This paper explains what ALTER members and supporters can do in the next few weeks to help get a stronger Lib Dem policy on LVT.
- Firstly, it is not too late to stand for FPC. It helps to be a voting rep already - because you will be better known by the voting electorate than candidates for FPC who aren't. In 2010, a record 63 candidates stood for the 15 directly elected places. I expect as many to stand this year. But you need to act fast - deadline for submitting your manifesto is this Tuesday 2nd October. You also need two voting reps to nominate you.
- Secondly, you can lobby your Local Party's voting reps. If you do not know who they are, ask your Local Party (LP) Secretary. All voting reps are elected at your LP AGM, each year. Depending on the number of members in your LP on 1st Jan, you will have between 3 and 15 voting reps. Last year's AGM minutes must be made available to every member of the LP. Your LP must hold its AGM in October or November and should send minutes of last year's AGM to any members who asks. If the LP Sec doesn't want to give out voting reps' contact details, challenge that: after all, how can a voting rep be a 'rep' unless they make themselves available to the LP membership?!
- ALTER Exec includes several voting reps. We will study the list of FPC candidates as soon as it comes out. We will ask each one to declare their views on LVT. We will offer briefings. We will let them know we have about 400 voting reps among our members and contacts, i.e. we are a group they cannot dismiss. We will let you know what the views of each candidate are, on LVT - well before the closing date for voting in Federal elections.
- The turnout for Federal elections is usually quite low. A candidate can be elected with as few as 20 'first preference' votes (the Party uses Single Transferable Voting, of course). So when you have advice from ALTER Exec on which FPC candidates are likely to support LVT and you think you know which LP voting reps agree with ALTER on LVT, please just pass this information on to those voting reps.
- There are, of course, many other important policies. The more you can relate LVT to those other policies, which voting reps and FPC candidates may think more important, the better our chance of getting people onto FPC. Have a look at our 'conference flyers', which cover subjects like transport, housing and young people.
- Stand for your LP as a Voting Rep. Just ask your LP to arrange for you to be nominated. If you have never been to Conference, it is very motivating - and as a 'first timer' there's a big discount.
- We are always looking for more ALTER Exec volunteers. Our AGM will be held in Brighton, at the Spring Federal Conference. But we can co-opt people onto our Exec at any time. It is through our Exec and our four members on the TPWG that the most effective influence can be made, once Federal elections are over.
Cllr Dr Tony Vickers, ALTER Vice Chair
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