When I tried to come up with a start for this article of this new blog, I could find no clever analogies for it or any sophisticated ways to say it, so allow me to put it plainly. The new Liberal Democrat registration system for autumn conference is a joke and not a particularly funny one at that. Not only is it illiberal, I hasten to remind you that are not a meagre thing, but also immensely frustrating.
My issues with this new registration process are varied and each equally as annoying, however the biggest one is in the principle. The Liberal Democrats prided themselves on opposing I.D cards and CCTV, we are after all trying to stop big brother in its tracks. So forgive me for being a more than a little annoyed at this system that stipulates that to give proof of being a member is not enough. Under this new process to even be allowed to proceed you must first enter either your national insurance number, you driving licence number or your passport number. After that, even if you have provided a photograph for past conference, during your registration you must give over a passport style photograph. Now I know there is a big push on security, we saw that in Sheffield, but this is just pushing it too far. I saw a fabulous tweet that summed it up “the only test should be if you’re a member or not.” I totally agree with this and find it incredibly disappointing that this is not the case.
My concerns do not stop there. While this system is illiberal and usually what we would want to stop, but practically, I find it a bit of a nightmare. A major flaw that has been seemingly over looked is some people may not have the necessary documentation to register. Now for everyone over the age of 16 this is impossible as you all have national insurance number, but what of the under 16s??? Nobody under 16 has a driving licence or a NI number andlet’s take it to consideration the fact some under 16s won’t have a passport number. In these cases registration would be very difficult indeed. It seems, yet again, children and young teenagers are being over looked and that severely gets on my nerves. It is true that my age group are in the minority but we are still members and still deserve to be treated as if we are fully grown. Age should never be a disadvantage however with this registration system it’s certainly a major setback.
Well, already this system is proving to be going down like a lead brick with other members and me. It’s not just the fact its illiberal, causes confusion and puts every under 16 at a disadvantage, it’s that fact that it purely gets on our nerves. To be fair, this system is driving us a bit mad, many see it unnecessary and a waste of time. It’s managed to annoy many a member with some not knowing if they have paid or have paid twice, people with joint registration are more than a little confused and some even question if they should bother registering. In short this system is annoying. I am more than a little annoyed that the police seem to be calling the shots when it comes to registration and think the old system was perfectly adequate.
In conclusion, this system is massive nuisance, anyone could see that just from the splash it’s made among the membership. I hope, beyond all hopes, that conference committee take note and rectify the system ASAP and certainly before registration opens for spring conference.