The agenda has been released for the Lib Dem's autumn conference in Glasgow. Compared to the other party conferences it at least pretends to involve ordinary members, as loyal Lib Dems are given endless opportunities to vote on potential policies.
Some conference motions are politically unrealistic pet projects of members (eg legalising cannabis) but others are produced by people close to the leadership and give an indication of where the party is heading. In the latter category three major points stick out:
1) Lib Dems won't look to cut tuition fees
Lib Dem members will be asked to endorse an education policy that involves "Retaining the current system of higher education finance, and committing to a review within the next Parliament, which will examine its impact on access, participation and quality".
Which would suggest that you won't see Nick Clegg campaigning in 2015 on a promise to cut fees. They also want to exclude students at accredited institutions from official immigration figures and allow recent overseas graduates to stay in Britain for three years if they attended a UK institution.
2) The mansion tax isn't going away
A motion tabled by Treasury secretary Danny Alexander sets out Lib Dem tax policy. Despite strong Tory opposition this include an annual tax of one per cent on the excess value of houses worth more than £2m and a broad commitment to tax wealth rather than income where possible. (Under this mansion tax plan the owner of £2.5m house would pay £5,000 per year.)
Other commitments include introducing a system of land value taxation which would hit large estates (and farmers) and flirting with the reintroduction of the 50p tax rate for people earnings over £150,000.
3) The motion requesting support for the government's internet filters is tougher than proposed by Cameron
Baroness Benjamin is asking the conference to back a motion that roughly aligns with the Claire Perry / David Cameron policy on internet filtering announced last month.
While noting serious concerns about "violent and abusive sexual material" accessible by young people, it also wraps in concerns about "suicide and eating disorder sites that often actively target young people".
The Lib Dem response is a proposal to "ensure that those adults wishing to view pornographic material should be required to opt in to websites containing such material by providing verifiable proof of age." Which is far tougher (and more difficult to implement) than a broad on/off filter chosen by a broadband customer when they set up the account.
Among other issues, Lib Dem members will also have the chance to vote on whether to:
- Endorse the installation of sprinkler systems in Scottish houses
- Block the construction of a new generation of nuclear plant
- Increase the number of students allowed to go to university beyond the existing cap
- Back the government's plans for an opt-in system for viewing online porn, with a requirement to provide proof of age before accessing adult material
- Use state ownership of RBS to force it increase lending
- Give British Sign Language legal status as a language
- Campaign to stay in the EU in the event of an in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the bloc