My Letter to the Federal Conference Committee, in response to the consultation on accreditation for Brighton:
Dear Andrew and Members of the Federal Conference Committee,
I imagine you have had a lot of responses to your consultation on the Sussex Police's request that all members wanting to attend Autumn Conference in Brighton, over and above the many comments made on the Lib Dem Voice article seeking views and those on the Lib Dem Blogosphere - including my own here - so I shall therefore keep this brief.
I am intending to attend conference for the first time. As a White, Middle Class, Cisgendered Male whose limited contact with the police has been as a crime victim or witness, I have nothing to fear from an accreditation process. But White, Middle Class Cisgendered Males (and Females) are two-a-penny in this party and dominate our benches in parliament: presenting us as such to the public, 51 weeks a year. Conferance is an opportunity to present the broader party to the public.
Last year's experience of accreditation has shown that it deters attendance by those who do not trust the police to handle their details sensitively. Given the statistics (and the evidence of Police abuse of stop-and-search powers) this is much more likely deter the non-white, non-middle class and non-cisgendered amongst our party. Ironic in a party whose constitution is about fairness for all. Accreditation is an issue that particularly affects those who are transgendered but could also include those with previous police history no matter where or when the circumstances. I know that our Northern Irish colleagues are also particularly concerned over this.
There are many other arguments against accreditation - mainly that there is no evidence as to how it is effective in its stated aim not to mention the examples quoted are complete red herrings - but, fundamentally, I don't believe the state should dictate who can and can't attend conference, nor should procedures be put in place which result in conference being less than representative of the party as a whole.