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Threats lead to cancellation of London Region conference

December 3rd, 2010 Posted in Liberal Democrats by

News is breaking that London Region Lib Dems have been obliged to postpone the London Region conference.

Both the initial and the replacement venues asked the Lib Dems to cancel the event because they feared that it would result in violence. Demonstrators opposing university funding reform had pledged to target Saturday’s event.

The headmaster of the school originally planning to host the event asked London Region to move it; but the replacement venue also raised security fears.

The concern of the venues is understandable considering the offensive and threatening language used by the ironically named “Free Education Campaign” (free for the students; very expensive for the taxpayers). Fiona Edwards of FEC spoke of Lib Dems “running scared” and promised to “chase them down.”

Ironically, FEC was only expecting up to 1,000 demonstrators, which should have been easy for the local police to manage. Indeed, with rain, snow and fog expected to complement the freezing temperatures, it’s hard to decide whether the demonstration would have been sparsely attended or a great opportunity for some of the hot-heads to cool off.

Personally, I’m disappointed that the defenders for middle-class welfare weren’t faced down. London Region should have pushed ahead with the conference at whatever venue they could find, and let the police and the weather deal with the student reactionaries.

30 Responses to “Threats lead to cancellation of London Region conference”

  1. Psi Says:

    Its sad that the venues were so easily intimidated. Though I can imagine the “free education compaign” having no problem damaging a school, so I understand the head’s concern.

    Perhaps a venue South of the river would have been a better choice, the incompetent protest organisers would struggle without a tube map to locate it.

  2. Paul W Says:

    I don’t know all the details yet but at the original venue (Haverstock School Camden) there have in previous years been other activities involving children on the premises at the same time. So it may be understandable that the headmaster had concerns.

  3. S McG Says:

    Utterly spineless reaction by the school.

  4. ukFred Says:

    Given the effectiveness of the Met outside CCHQ, it is no surprise that the venues do not want to host this event. Sir Paul Stephenson either has to step up to the mark and deal with the criminals who try to cause damage or he should resign and let someone who is willing to do this get on with the job.

    But then, after 13 years of Lie BOre misrule, they probably all think that they cannot be held responsible for criminal behaviour at all, even if they were to kill someone. Oh, hang on, someone did try to kill some police with a fire extinguisher, did he not?.

  5. EcoJon Says:

    Whatever happened to the right to peaceful protest?

    I can’t actually believe how fast the LibDems are becoming more Tory than their senior coalition partner.

    All I can say is that the LibDem party and MPs who abstain or vote for tuition fees better get ready for years of being targeted by protests against their spinelessness over tuition fees and the breaking of their personal pledges.

    Still the really positive thing about it all is to see a whole new generation of youngsters – some as youn as 12 – becoming politically aware and taking to the streets to exercise their democratic right to protest.

    In many ways it reminds me of the reaction to the Poll Tax and I really think it will destroy the LibDem Party just as it marked the end of Thatcher.

  6. Rod Says:

    When confronted with a very justified protest the LibDems on this thread resort to huffing and puffing! You should get a reality check.
    Clegg and co signed pledges, now it’s time to face the music. Be assured, you’ll be dancing into oblivion after the next General Election.

  7. Mark Says:

    So , when Lib-Dem MPs pledged not to raise fees were they also “defenders of middle-class welfare”, proposing a solution that was always going to be very expensive for the taxpayer?

    If this was last year, and the protests were against the labour or tory london conferences you would have loved it, now you denounce the students as ‘reactionaries’…

    I expected better, I really did.

  8. Psi Says:

    @ Mark

    Yes signing the pledge was “defending middle class welfare” and as they made personal pledges they should probably stick to them. That doesn’t make it right to force non graduates working on low salaries to give pay the full cost of the middle class’ education. But we are in the decade if the cabies

    If it were just a protest that would be fine but if it is so extreme that venues are too scared to allow their buildings to be used that is a different thing.

    I imagine the conference would have mainly consisted of local activists urging MP to vote against, now there won’t be that pressure on MPs. FEC shot themselves in the foot there didn’t they?

    The protests appear to be run by people who have little interest in actually lobbying MPs and appear to be more interested in being able to say that they “lead” a protest and feeling entitles to cause trouble.

  9. GMC Says:

    This is surely less to do with violent protests and everything to do with yet more damaging publicity.

  10. Psi Says:

    Conference or no conference there would be negative publicity.

  11. Andrew Preston Says:

    Can hardly believe what this site represents. You really belong with the Conservatives.

    I’m a long-time Liberal voter. If I’d realised what had gained the ascendancy in the Liberal Democrats, you’d never have seen my vote. And you won’t again.

  12. Tom Papworth Says:

    Ecojon: “Whatever happened to the right to peaceful protest?”

    Two riots so far and counting. And I don’t think “chasing people down” counts as peaceful. Of course they are entitled to protest, but if the venues felt intimidated enough to close that suggests they didn’t expect it to remain peaceful.


    As Psi said, it was a bad pledge and they never should have made it. Liberal Vision never hid their contempt for that awful policy, which would have maintained taxes on lower-income people (now lifted thanks to the £10,000 tax allowance) so as to keep funding the higher education that keeps the middle-classes earning more. It’s a disgraceful policy, but you keep defending it if you wish.


    What is gaining ascendency in the Liberal Democrats is liberalism. If what you want is socialism, or Conservative middle-class welfare, you should place your vote elsewhere.

  13. Andrew Preston Says:

    @Tom Papworth

    Should I really place my vote elsewhere? Don’t think so really. It’s you guys who, imo, are the aberations. The LD poll support is now down, I believe, to 12 or 13%, so I’m hardly the only person who feels the way I do.

    You guys have just about zero connection to poorer people.

  14. Psi Says:

    Andrew could you clarify what you mean by poorer people?

    I’m not trying to be all John Humphries about it but it does aid discussion if everyone has a common understanding of what a term means.

  15. Tom Papworth Says:


    The key word was if. IF you want socialism or Conservative middle-class welfare, vote for a socialist or conservative party.

    An aberation? I doubt it. There is a very strong tradition of classical liberalism in Britain, stretching from the Whigs through the Liberals to the Liberal Democrats. I’m damned if I’m going to surrender that to a bunch of Trots.

    As for my “connection to poorer people”, I meet them regularly on the social housing estates that I represent, and they’re pretty damned annoyed at the extent to which their needs are sidelined by politicians who are more interested in dolling out taxpayer-funded benefits to people who can afford pay their own way.

  16. Andrew Preston Says:

    @Tom Papworth

    Not too interested in your ism’s or your black and white, narrow and ignorant views that if you are not this or that, then you must be a ‘Trot’.

    In terms of the traditions, there is a far broader one of embracing the grievances of poor people for ends which have nothing at heart to do with improving their lives. That’s the way it is, when your starting point is mendacious.

    I didn’t particularly come here to aid your discussions. I came here from a link relating to the upcoming closure of, so far, 254 public libraries, thanks to your policies.

  17. Psi Says:

    @ Andrew

    Ha Ha Ha, fantastic!!!

    Well thank you Andrew, for my appointment as head of policy making for the coalition government.

    Sadly I don’t think that is a position within your gift. This isn’t Russia and I note your name is not Putin.

    If you look carefully you will notice that I am just a random guest commenter (as are you), I have never said if I am a member of the Lib Dems (, Greens, Torys, Labour or SNP for that matter). I certainly have not previously had any input in to any party’s policy making. No member of Liberal Vision would know me if they met me in the street.

    I apologise that I mistook your commenting on a political blog as an attempt to engage in an intelligent discussion with other people who may have a different view to you. I will correct myself and dismiss you as an ignorant troll.

  18. Ed Joyce Says:

    @ Andrew Preston. I am not sure where you get the idea that we have no connection to ‘poorer people’. Both myself and Tom are councillors in South London. These seats are invariably won off the Conservatives with the support of Labour tactical voting.

    Could you tell me about the connection that you have with ‘poorer people’. Maybe you could visit me in North Beddington and enlighten myself and other ‘poorer people’ who live in my street.

    We are actors in our own lives. I want land tax reform and a citizens income so we don’t have to accept charity from the tax system. The Georgist strand runs very deeply in the libertarian wing of the party. There is even a word for it – geolibertarianism. Perhaps you could pop down to Beddington and explain to me why a socialist solution is better.

    We don’t spend all our time on this site. I spent most of the weekend meeting some of the ‘poorer people’ in my ward who could not get to work as drivers, shop assistants etc sorting out a new gritting plan to ensure that they can get to work if the snow returns.

    Ed Joyce

  19. Rod Says:

    Reading the Papworth responses here is a revelation. And to think, I had a LibDem poster in my window during the General Election campaign. Never again. Never.

  20. Andrew Preston Says:

    @ Ed Joyce

    Think you must live in another world. As I said, Your poll ratings are down to 12 or 13%, and you don’t even know why.

    The only acting I do is when I can find work as a film extra
    on suchlike “Lark Rise to Candleford”, and the grit in my life is the reality of scraping along on just about nothing, while trying to earn from a couple of websites. This is Somerset, and there is a lot of rural poverty, and I think your party is stuffed around here the next time voters have an opportunity to express an opinion.

    As I said earlier, the reason I’m here is that this government is slashing public libraries, whilst trying not to be caught with the reins of responsibility, and to blame it all on councils.

  21. Ed Joyce Says:

    @Andrew – do you pay rent ? if so who to ? The payment of high levels of rent from your own labour would indicate that you have an understanding of the issues.

  22. Psi Says:

    Still no indication of what you consider poor?

    I would expect to find rural poverty Somerset, as I wouldn’t expect to find it in Norwood or Beddington. I would expect to see more urban poverty in South London.

    Still if you want people to take you seriously you will have to define what you consider “poor.” I think I understand what Tom and Ed consider poor as they have explained it.

    In Monaco someone earning £40k could be referred to as “poor” but I don’t think anyone would be rushing to alleviate their poverty.

    I notice that you are constantly talking about poll ratings, I think anyone with half a brain would know why the LibDems are suffering in the polls. What you seem incapable of understanding is Ed and Tom are not talking about what is popular but what is the right thing to do. As it was explained by a Labour minister “there is no money left.”

    And please do tell me about life in Somerset because you obviously know so much about me it isn’t possible I could know anything at all about doing low paid agricultural and factory work there, is it?

  23. x-offender Says:

    Scum like Papworth differ from other Libdems only by being honest. At least he’s not a lying scumbag like Clegg.

    Never trust a liberal!

    ps Libdem scum can run, but you can’t hide.

  24. Andrew Preston Says:

    Conversation is over, chaps. You guys don’t really represent the kind of liberal vision that I’m interested in. Nor are many of those who recently voted for you, imo.

  25. Psi Says:

    @ Andrew Preston

    There never was a conversation, that would involve two way dialog.

    What you engaged in was ranting, I (twice) asked you to clarify a statement so some form of discussion would be possible, you couldn’t even manage that. If you expect to turn up on a blog and be able to shout other people down by displaying your ignorance and prejudices you may not like this Interweb thing. It is just as easy for me to write you off as an irrelevant toll and shout you down (though apparently more effectively than you can) if you behave as you have.

    In future try actually addressing the issues and if someone asks you to expand a point you may find people receptive to your opinions if you oblige. Alternatively continue trolling different sites making assumptions about people on them and making ignorant baseless statements, you will continue to find people will dismiss you. Have fun with that.

  26. Psi Says:

    @ Andrew Preston


    Incidentally I don’t represent any kind of Liberal Vision as I’m not a member, just a reader.

    I imagine that is a concept you would struggle to understand, perhaps it is easier if you imagine me as part of the global conspiracy that is really evil and serving [insert prefered group here: Scots / Bankers / Owls …]. That way you can sleep peacefully at night knowing that all the things wrong with the world are someone else’s fault and you are absolved of any responsibility.

    Night Night

  27. Andrew Preston Says:

    I’d say the rant was the little missive from x-offender. I did mention libraries a couple of times as the real reason I was here. Libraries are the traditional route out of ignorance for many people who don’t have brilliant educational choices or opportunities, often due to poverty. Or sometimes they just don’t fit in at school. And equally they’re great for those who just can’t afford to hop into their nearest Waterstones, or logon to Amazon.

    No resonance with any of you on libraries. 254 due to be closed down because of the government of which the Liberal Democrats are a part.


  28. Tom Papworth Says:


    There certainly is a vast gap between your comments and the hate-crime of x-offender. That’s what happens when the Socialist and Green websites start picking up on a story, I suppose!

    As regards libraries, I would firstly note that it is rather off-topic, and there is a sensible protocol in blog comments of not responding to off-topic conversations, lest the whole debate shift completely.

    However, as you are asking, I would make three points:
    1) Libraries are the responsibility of local authorites and so a national government cannot be blamed for local authority decisions
    2) Local authorities have not yet received notification of their 2011/12 settlements, while the 2010/11 settlements were made by Labour. Any closures up to now have been due to Labour if they were due to any national government.
    3) “Libraries are the traditional route out of ignorance for many people who don’t have brilliant educational choices or opportunities, often due to poverty. Or sometimes they just don’t fit in at school”. The Government has pumped £2.5 billion into helping children who are struggling at school, paid for by cancelling another piece of middle-class welfare: Baby bonds.

    I hope that that is of help.

  29. republic Says:

    is it possible that in the next election the liberal democrats will be finished as a political party let alone the may local elections who will trust them breaking all their pledges to the electerate who will want them after they side with the tories over the future of the nhs another big problem and this might hurt to all you liberals did you really think the conservatives were going to give you pr they only wanted power and to carry on with thatchers policies

  30. Tom Papworth Says:

    @republic: “is it possible that in the next election the liberal democrats will be finished as a political party”

    No. People are always too quick to write off major political parties. In fact our poll ratings are quite typical for the LDs at this point in the electoral cycle.

    Ultimately, it depends what happens to the economy over the next three years.