Observing from the media balcony, it is already hard enough keeping a track of what’s going on: what with being slightly removed from the action below, and unable to see all delegates to get an idea of the voting numbers and conference reaction to speeches. But the thing that makes it even more difficult to follow proceedings are the ‘Procedure Motions’.
The ironic thing is that they often come from people wanting to move motions forward, as they don’t think there will be time to discuss them. These discussions about saving time then can take up to half an hour! Not to mention the fact that many reasons given by delegates for moving motions forwards is that ‘it is really important to them/ they worked hard on it’, which is either blinkered or selfish of them.
Furthermore, there seems to total disregard for the fact that unions were asked to put in their priorities beforehand, and the nature of this democratic process (like all democratic processes!) means that some people will be disappointed. Of course, this means that any un-discussed motions go to the smaller collective of the NEC to decide, but they have been elected to make decisions too, and can be lobbied. The suggestion from one delegate was that NUS should facilitate online polls for any motions that aren’t discussed at conference.
And this would be a great idea, but I would only want these polls to be indicators and steers for the NEC, not decision making polls – as another part of any good democratic process is discussion, and discussions whether at Conference at large, or within NEC meetings can and do sway the decision makers even if they came to the room feeling that their opinions were set.
Certainly something must be done to encourage more unions to take part in the prioritising stage of motions before conference, and much could be arranged to ensure after-conference engagement with motions which are passed on to NEC. This way, you’d hopefully see fewer procedural motions from people worried that their pet motions aren’t going to be discussed, at the expense of someone elses motion.
What do you think? Over to you, conference *cue jazz hands*