A new member's first Lib Dem Conference: Q and A with Mike Dent
We caught up with Mike Dent who recently joined the party to see how he found his first Lib Dem Conference.
Why did you join Lib Dems recently?
Well for the last few years I have become more and more disillusioned with the national direction and I thought it was politics in general. However, when I gave it more and deeper thought it was clear that I was an anti Tory at heart. So I resolved to try and do something proactive, I looked at my local constituency and saw that Guildford was ripe for removing the incumbent Tory MP, but only by supporting the Lib Dems - from that moment it was clear I needed to get involved and join the party. It was a good decision given that the Lib Dems are aligned with my own political feelings on not just the anti Tory platform, but also on issues of fairness, opportunity, democracy, collaboration and protecting the vulnerable.
How was the online experience of your first conference?
I enjoyed it immensely - I honestly thought that I would dip in and out and attend sporadically. But I found myself hooked and attended most of the Friday afternoon, all day Saturday and all day Sunday as well as a little on the Monday. I found the online approach quite accessible and as I haven't been to an in-person conference and I have been working almost exclusively on zoom for 18 months, it really worked for me
What was first motion you voted on?
I voted in favour of the ban on conversion therapy and I found the experience very empowering - the fact that everybody has one vote regardless is a real USP for me with the Lib Dems. It also meant a lot to me to vote on such an important and under represented topic (which we saw at our stand at Pride in Surrey where the popularity of our complimentary petition caused bottlenecks at the entrance to the venue!)
Which debate caught your imagination the most?
Well I found the motion on ending violence against women and girls the most memorable due to the power of the speakers. I find that when the awful experiences are recounted by those that have suffered such appalling harassment and abuse I am left stunned. It was an emotional debate and the fact that the motion passed so overwhelmingly was a moment that stood out for me.
What was the stand out moment from conference?
Well apart from the unequivocal backing for the motion I just mentioned, I think hearing from Sir Ed at the Newbie Welcome session was great. there were technical issues, but they were overcome, Ed kept his humour throughout that and I loved having that attention and access from our leader to welcome us