Conference first timer? Your questions answered

June 22, 2015 2:10 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

What is Conference?

Liberal Democrat Conference is a twice-yearly event where members gather to put forward, debate and vote on the Party's national policies. There are keynote speeches from the Leader, MPs and other senior figures, and Party committees present their annual reports to the membership. Beyond the main Conference hall, there's a wide range of training on campaigning, fundraising, recruitment, plus advice sessions for those interested in being candidates for councils and Parliament. At lunchtimes and in the evenings there are plenty of fringe meetings with a chance to discuss ideas with speakers from party groups and national organisations. There are receptions, a disco, and even a singalong night, and there's always a large crowd in the Conference bar at the end of the day.

How long is it?

Autumn Conference is held over five days from 19-23 September 2015. It kicks off on Saturday at 10.00 with Consultation sessions and finishes with the Leader's speech on the Wednesday at about 13.00. You can come for just a day or the weekend if you can't make the full five days.

Who can attend?

Any Party member can attend Conference. You don't have to be a voting representative, or planning to make a speech. It's a valuable experience for any member who wants to meet other Liberal Democrats from around the country, to make friends, share stories and to pick up campaign tips. When we ask members why they come to Conference, the chance to exchange ideas and meet like-minded people is always high on the list - so whether policy geek or simply someone who believes in upholding liberal values in our society, there is something for everyone at Conference! Plus it's a really great chance to grill (and challenge) the powers that be.

Who can speak at Conference?

Any member can apply to speak in a Conference debate as long as they have registered for either the weekend or the full member's pass (day passes don't come with speaking rights). Because of the large numbers of people wishing to speak, slots are limited. There's a guide to speaking at Conference here: Submit a speaker's card and we might see you at the podium!

Who can vote at Conference?

Local parties elect their Conference Representatives at their Annual General Meetings, usually in November. They are sent to Conference to represent the views of local party members. For more information on Conference Representatives see: If you are interested in becoming a Conference Representatives speak to your Local Party to find out if they have availability and the process to apply.

Where is it held?

Our Conferences have visited cities and towns around the country. This year, Autumn Conference is in Bournemouth, at the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC). A variety of accommodation is available, from B&Bs to grand hotels. You can book your stay here:

How much does it cost?

A first-time attendee can register at a discount for £72. You can also come for just a day or a weekend. You are entitled to the claimant rate if, at the time of Conference, you are receiving state benefits due to being unemployed, the dependent spouse of an unemployed person, on income support, a full time student or if your main source of income is the state pension. We require proof of your claimant status with your application.

For a full overview of prices and any deadlines go to:

How do I register?

Simply go to and click on the 'Register for Conference' button which will take you through to the registration site. If you have never attended before you'll be asked to create a unique username and password which you can then use to register even quicker next time. Don't forget to have a passport style photo ready!

What if I don't know anyone?

There'll be lots of other people in the same boat. Anyone attending for the first time will receive an invitation to the First timers' Reception on the first night. Then simply get chatting with the person next to you in the coffee queue, let your local party know that you're going and see if you can share a lift or catch a train with someone from your area. You'll receive a fringe guide shortly before Conference and you can plan your time - an interesting group or topic might catch your eye. Visit the Exhibition in the Conference centre, where all the Party organisations are featured. Find a stand that interests you and say hello to the people running it. They'll tell you more about their groups and will welcome you to get involved.

The Federal Conference Committee have also just set up this Facebook Group to allow those attending conference to arrange lifts, offer local accommodation or simply socialise before you even get there. Go to

We've got even more information, including answers to frequently asked questions on our website:

See you in Bournemouth!