Friday, June 30th, 2017
I was lucky enough to get to the Policy Day in Edinburgh last month (June) and have a say in improving the Party’s policies. Around 80 members from across the country were there to bring their skills and knowledge to a range of policies that needed to be brought up to date or developed from new.
I swithered – it’s a long way to go – but I’m glad I went. It was very easy to contribute my thoughts and great to meet others across the country struggling with similar issues.
As a Highlands & Islands branch member, I wanted especially to make sure that issues of importance for us were not forgotten or over-balanced by the experiences of members in the central belt.
So I joined the workshops on Active Travel and Energy and made sure that issues about rurality, remoteness, weather, fuel poverty, energy connectivity, lack of public transport and more were added into our policies. That our Orkney group is opposing some wind generation because it doesn’t help fuel poverty or resolve the lack of inter-connector was one example.
It would have been great to have other Highlands & Islands voices to contribute to the other workshops (on Brexit, Food & Farming; Peace & Security; Refugees; and Buses) but with no other Highlands & Islands members at the event, our regional issues couldn’t be fed in to all the discussions. Shame.
We have some supremely smart folk in the Party who work on Policy Development (all volunteers, of course) and a lot of members who can bring their specific life-knowledge or understandings – or ignorance – to these discussions; so no-one should feel they have nothing to add to these discussions.
More work is going on to translate our discussions into stronger Party Policies and clearer statements we can all use to show people what we believe in.
If you want to add your tuppence worth, say so! Any policy changes significant enough to need to be approved by members will appear as a motion for debate at Conference in October (motions to be finalised by 7 August). More policies will be refreshed next year too.
There was a LOT of talk about how to make policy development more inclusive and accessible; and to make the most of the huge reservoir of skills within members’ heads. If YOU feel annoyed by the difficulty of contributing to Policies in areas where you have a strong interest/skill, volunteers are wanted to help improve our processes and to build up our knowledge of members interests & skills.
New online tools, properly accessible documents and a decent database of skills are all essential.