Just announced tonight is the news that the controversial accreditation arrangements – put in place for last autumn’s Liberal Democrat conference – will also be going ahead for this year’s gathering in Brighton.
This seems a bit premature. For starters, no process has yet been announced for those whose identities require sensitive handling. (Any trans folk for example, or victims of domestic violence) Although I’ve submitted a Freedom of Information request to the police, I fear it will just confirm what I already expect: they have not yet bothered with any equalities impact assessment.
But most worrying is the tone of the announcement, stating that the “possibility of serious harm” to people, including party and venue staff, was a concern. This is the usual campaigning tactic of a totalitarian regime and we should not permit it here, lest it be used in parliament too. The increased risk has not been demonstrated in any meaningful way and certainly has not been shown to be any more substantial than the risk to individuals caused by personal details being leaked.
For some, that risk of details being leaked may just be inconvenience.
For others, it is to risk harassment and physical violence. Other campaigning I am currently involved in revolves around a group whose members will think nothing of using underhand tactics to “out” people, write to their employers to try to get them fired and even make death threats.
Do not underestimate the very real fear with which many people end up living their lives. We should be representing vulnerable people, not making them choose between their safety and being able to speak up at a political conference to make a case for their human rights.
If the current legal and political environment is causing us problems, we need to change things. Some of you may have noticed that we’re a party of government now. We do not need to bow to the powers that be, thinking that it’s all inevitable. It isn’t.
I predict a very interesting set of elections for Federal Conference Committee at the end of his year.