A sudden burst of press activity this morning on the dreaded “triple lock” binding Nick Clegg in any hung parliament talks. With the polls narrowing, Westminster’s big beasts are slowly realising they may one day have to listen to Lib Dem activists.
My piece and Tom Baldwin’s in the Times managed to quote different sections of the infamous rule, passed at the raucous 1998 Southport conference. Baldwin seems to have had a bit of trouble extracting it from the Lib Dem press office. So for constitutional scholars and nervous investors everywhere, here is the motion in full.
Although the wording is a bit vague, it seems to cover both formal and informal deals with other parties. The imprecision is unlikely to help Clegg — under Lib Dem constitution, if 200 delegates disagree with his interpretation, they can call a special conference anyway.
Conference notes the absence of specific constitutional provisions which clearly define the Party’s approach to gaining positive consent to proposals for an important change in strategy or positioning;
i) in the event of any substantial proposal which could affect the Party’s independence of political action, the consent will be required of a majority of members of the Parliamentary Party in the House of COmmons and the Federal Executive; and
ii) unless there is a three-quarters majority of each group in favour of the proposals, the consent of the majority of those present and voting at a Special Conference convened under clause 6.6 of the Constitution; and
iii) unless there is a two-thirds majority of those present and voting at that Conference in favour of the proposals, the consent of a majority of all members of the Party voting in he ballot called pursuant to clause 6.11 or 8.6 of the Constitution.