New Statesman events at Lib Dem conference 2013

The New Statesman will be heading to Glasgow to host a series of events and discussions during the Liberal Democrats autumn conference 2013.

The New Statesman will be at the Liberal Democrats autumn conference this year in Glasgow to host a series of events and round table discussions. Highlights include an "In conversation" session with Minister of State for Care and Support, and Lib Dem MP, Normal Lamb at the Glasgow Science Centre tomorrow evening, a discussions on aid and advocacy between Menzies Campbell, Simon Hughes and Medical Aid for Palestinians Chief Executive Tony Laurance on Monday afternoon and a talk with David Laws, Minister for Cabinet Office and Schools on Monday evening. All events are free to attend and open to the public.

There will also be a session with Lib Dem president Tim Farron, a possible future leader of the party, whose comments on Ed Miliband in this week's New Statesman were widely regarded as proof that coalition with Labour rather than the Tories after 2015 remains a distinct possibility. (The correlative came from Jeremy Browne in the same issue, a Lib Dem with less polite things to say about the Labour leader). 

A full list of NS events at the Lib Dem conference can be found below:

Liberal Democrat Part Conference 2013

 

Sunday the 15th of September 

 

 

Integration in an era of competition: Is it possible? 

Speakers: Rt Hon Paul Burstow MP

                  Chris Hopskin, Chief Executive, Foundation Trust Network

                  Professor Clare Bambra, Durham University 

Location: Clyde Suite, Glasgow Science Centre  

Time: 13:30-14:30 

 

What next for the criminal justice system?

Speakers: Lord McNally, Minister of State for Justice,

                  Steve Gillan, General Secretary, POA

                  Jerry Petherick, Managing Director – Custodial & Detention

                  - Services, G4S 

                  Tania Bassett, Napo Press, Parliament and Campaigns Officer

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre      

Time: 13:00-14:00  

Smart Grids: Is this the way of selling low carbon policy to skeptics?

Speakers: Stephen Gilbert MP, PPS to Rt. Hon Edward Davey MP

                  - Secretary of State for Climate Change  

                  Jim Sutherland, Scottish Power Energy Networks 

                  Dr. Hongjain Sun, Lecturer in Smart Grids, Durham University 

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre  

Time: 14:00-15:00

Norman Lamb MP in conversation with New Statesman

Speaker: Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care and Support

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre  

Time: 18:15-19:15  

Monday the 16th of September

 

Home Front: the battle for a sustainable housing Market

(invite only)

Speakers: Rt. Hon Don Foster MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the

                  - Department of Communities and Local Goverment         

                  Stephen Gilbert MP, PPS to the Rt. Hon Edward Davey MP,

                  - Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change      

                  Lord Shipley          

                  Annette Brooke MP          

                  Lord Newby, Deputy Chief Whip 

Location: Clyde Suite, Glasgow Science Centre   

Time: 8.30-10:00

Innovation, what does the NHS need to do?

Speakers: Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care and Support  

                  David Worskett, Chief Executive, NHS Partners Network

                  Professor Clare Bambra, Durham University 

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre     

Time: 10.30-11.30

Can aid be effective without advocacy? 

Speakers: Rt. Hon Sir Menzies Campbell MP

                  Rt. Hon Simon Hughes MP

                  Tony Laurance, Chief Executive, Medical Aid for Palestinians 

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre   

Time: 13:00-14:00

Endgames: The Lib Dems in the final phase of the coalition  

Speakers: Tim Farron MP, President of the Liberal Democrats  

                  Tavish Scott MSP      

                  Akash Paun, Fellow, Institute of Government  

                  Olly Grender, Deputy Chair, General Election Capmaign

Location:Clyde Suite, Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre     

Time: 18:00-19:00

David Laws MP in conversation with the New Statesman

Speaker: Rt Hon David Laws MP, Minister of State for Cabinet Office and Schools

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre     

Time: 19:00-20:00

Tuesday the 17th September

 

Will competition and choice open up the banking sector?

Speakers: Lord Newby, Government Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Chief

                  - Whip, Treasury Spokesperson in the House of Lords

                  Adrian Kamellard, Chief Executive, Payments Council

                  Jeff Salway, Freelance Journalist      

                  Richard Lloyd, Executive Director, Which?

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre 

Time: 13:00-14:00    

Why invest in UK life sciences?

Speakers: Dr Julian Huppert MP

                  Andrew Powrie-Smith, Director ABPI, Scotland 

                  Mike Farrar, Chief Executive, NHS Confederation 

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre   

Time: 13:00-14:00

Tim Farron MP in conversation with New Statesman

Speaker: Tim Farron MP, President of the Liberal Democrats

Location: Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre 

Time: 18:15-19:15   

Is a cap on immigration a cap on growth?

Speakers: Rt. Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State, Business

                  - Innovation and Skills, President of the Board of Trade  

                  Mr. Neil Stevenson, Brand Executive Director, ACCA       

                  Dr. Adam Marshall, British Chamber of Commerce        

                  Professor Christian Dustmann

Location: Clyde Suite, Science Show Theatre, Glasgow Science Centre        

Time: 19:00-20:00

Nick Clegg's speech will close the conference on Wednesday 18 September. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Andrea Leadsom as Environment Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

A little over a week into Andrea Leadsom’s new role as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and senior industry figures are already questioning her credentials. A growing list of campaigners have called for her resignation, and even the Cabinet Office implied that her department's responsibilities will be downgraded.

So far, so bad.

The appointment would appear to be something of a consolation prize, coming just days after Leadsom pulled out of the Conservative leadership race and allowed Theresa May to enter No 10 unopposed.

Yet while Leadsom may have been able to twist the truth on her CV in the City, no amount of tampering will improve the agriculture-related side to her record: one barely exists. In fact, recent statements made on the subject have only added to her reputation for vacuous opinion: “It would make so much more sense if those with the big fields do the sheep, and those with the hill farms do the butterflies,” she told an audience assembled for a referendum debate. No matter the livelihoods of thousands of the UK’s hilltop sheep farmers, then? No need for butterflies outside of national parks?

Normally such a lack of experience is unsurprising. The department has gained a reputation as something of a ministerial backwater; a useful place to send problematic colleagues for some sobering time-out.

But these are not normal times.

As Brexit negotiations unfold, Defra will be central to establishing new, domestic policies for UK food and farming; sectors worth around £108bn to the economy and responsible for employing one in eight of the population.

In this context, Leadsom’s appointment seems, at best, a misguided attempt to make the architects of Brexit either live up to their promises or be seen to fail in the attempt.

At worst, May might actually think she is a good fit for the job. Leadsom’s one, water-tight credential – her commitment to opposing restraints on industry – certainly has its upsides for a Prime Minister in need of an alternative to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); a policy responsible for around 40 per cent the entire EU budget.

Why not leave such a daunting task in the hands of someone with an instinct for “abolishing” subsidies  thus freeing up money to spend elsewhere?

As with most things to do with the EU, CAP has some major cons and some equally compelling pros. Take the fact that 80 per cent of CAP aid is paid out to the richest 25 per cent of farmers (most of whom are either landed gentry or vast, industrialised, mega-farmers). But then offset this against the provision of vital lifelines for some of the UK’s most conscientious, local and insecure of food producers.

The NFU told the New Statesman that there are many issues in need of urgent attention; from an improved Basic Payment Scheme, to guarantees for agri-environment funding, and a commitment to the 25-year TB eradication strategy. But that they also hope, above all, “that Mrs Leadsom will champion British food and farming. Our industry has a great story to tell”.

The construction of a new domestic agricultural policy is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Britain to truly decide where its priorities for food and environment lie, as well as to which kind of farmers (as well as which countries) it wants to delegate their delivery.

In the context of so much uncertainty and such great opportunity, Leadsom has a tough job ahead of her. And no amount of “speaking as a mother” will change that.

India Bourke is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.