Extending the power of the International Criminal Court

At Liberal Democrat party conference in Bournemouth on Monday 15 September 2008, Jeremy spoke in the debate on this motion on extending the powers of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Among the previous speakers, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who prosecuted Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia in the Hague, had spoken against the motion. Read more…

A Simple Guide to the Liberal Democrat Policy Process

I’ve been asked to write a guide to the Lib Dem process for making policy, including conference, and I thought it might be of wider interest. So here is what I hope is a simple and clear, but full, outline of the policy-making process in six pages. Read more…

A Brand New Policy Paper in Just 17 Weeks?

Three years ago I wrote a pamphlet, Wasted Rainforests, outlining my view of some of the failings of the Liberal Democrat policy-making process, and some proposals for changes. Since then several aspects of the process have changed – for example, FPC does take much more ownership of its own working groups, and working groups themselves are smaller and more effective, and with broader composition. And at conference we have introduced a number of new items on the timetable, such as ‘urgent issue’ debates, presentations from Council groups and Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Parliamentary teams, which have all reduced the amount of time for debating lots of minor and uncontroversial motions. This process has been greatly helped by some other developments too – notably the arrival of Greg Simpson into the new post of Head of Policy & Research, and also the arrival of Ming Campbell as Leader and Chair of the FPC. But one key area where we struggled to make changes, was reducing the length of the time it takes actually to write a policy paper, get it agreed, and then taken to conference for final approval. This seems to be becoming something of an issue again. So I’ve come back to revisit it, and to put forward some suggestions for how the timetable for writing a policy paper could be radically shortened. Read more…

Making Juries Fairer

At Lib Dem party conference in Spring 2007 Jeremy proposed an amendment to the party’s proposed new crime and justice policy which would have changed the system to allow people to offer to perform their jury service at a time convenient to them – reducing problems for them while also making the composition of juries fairer. This is the speech he made to propose his amendment. Conference I’m passionately committed to the idea that each of us has a duty to play our part in the legal system, as jurors. If the right to jury trial – which the Liberal Democrats have done so much to defend – is to mean anything, that means 12 of us, for every case, being willing to give up our time to hear the trial. I want to strengthen the system so that our jury system, can be as fair as possible, and this amendment seeks to do that. Let me tell you about 2 problems with the way the system of composing juries works at the moment. Read more…

International Law

UN.gifAs one of the Vice Chairs of the Federal Policy Committee and a member of the working group which drafted the paper, Jeremy proposed the party’s new policy on international law at party conference on 21 September 2006 on behalf of the FPC: For Liberal Democrats, there is no more fundamental principle than the rule of law. It is impossible to create a liberal or a democratic society without it. Here in the UK, it is the fundamental basis of our society, of our stability and our prosperity. We live today in a more globalised and interdependent world than ever before – and a strong, effective and inclusive international rule of law is vital to guaranteeing its stability. This motion and this paper sets out how we would like to make international law more effective, fairer, and more legitimate, across the range of areas:

  • how the use of force is controlled,
  • how international law can more effectively tackle multinational crime and terrorism
  • how it can better ensure that human rights are protected
  • how it can manage the global economy for the interests of all
  • and how it can control the global environment

But despite the increasingly urgent need for more effective international rule of law, there is a growing number of those who want to work outside it, to work around international law rather than within and through it. Read more…

Putting You in Control

home_cta_meetingthechallenge.gif This Essay was written in January 2006 for the website of Meeting the Challenge, the Liberal Democrats’ policy review, as a contribution to the debate about the Liberal Democrats’ narrative. Meeting the Challenge grew out of a desire to set out a coherent and planned programme for the party’s policy development over the next few years. It is not a re-examining of the philosophical underpinnings of what we believe (we did that excellently in the last Parliament, with <i>It’s About Freedom</i>, which remains the philosophical basis for the current exercise); it is certainly not a line-by-line review of existing policy, giving us the chance to enjoy those old rows all over again; and it is definitely not a comprehensive document listing all the policies we will want to go to the electorate with in three years’ time. What the narrative it comes up with should be, is an attempt to draw together the things we believe in, at both a detailed and a philosophical level, into a simple statement of our overall pitch to the electorate. Our narrative, our pitch, our story, our approach, call it what you will: it should be the simple statement of what the Liberal Democrats believe, what we would do, and why people should vote for us. We (by and large) know what we believe: we are going to remain fully committed to, for example, all of the six themes which we set out in the Meeting the Challenge consultation paper (freedom, fairness, localism, internationalism, prosperity and sustainability). The narrative should be the statement that draws those together, the “thread that joins the beads”, which explains to the electorate our overall view, which would allow them to work out the approach we would be likely to take to something, even without knowing our specific policies. It should be firmly rooted in our principles, and with a clear link to our specific policies. It should help people (as Charles Kennedy put it at the consultation session at Blackpool) instinctively know what the Liberal Democrats would think about something. Read more…

Improving the Party’s Policy-Making

Jeremy sets out some of the improvements to the party’s policy-making and conference system which have now been agreed, following his booklet on party policy-making, Wasted Rainforests. This article appeared first in the June 2005 issue of Liberator magazine. Last summer I wrote Wasted Rainforests, a pamphlet outlining my criticisms of the way our party’s policy-making processes work, and making some suggestions for improvement. Liberator kindly assisted, by allowing me to summarise some of my points in these pages, and by organising a fringe meeting at party conference on the subject. A number of people spoke to me or wrote to me to say that they agreed with what I had said. Some were even more critical than I was, and raised further problems. Several people who understand the policy-making process better than I do, pointed out where my criticisms were misplaced or my suggestions would not work. But overall many people told me that Wasted Rainforests reflected some frustrations that they had long held. Emboldened by this support, and much better informed by many discussions, I sat down with all the comments, and with others put together some concrete and specific proposals for the Federal Policy Committee (FPC) and the Federal Conference Committee (FCC). Both these committees discussed these proposals – as it happened in the same week in January. They bravely agreed to make some changes. Some will be fairly obvious, and some by their nature will be less visible but will hopefully make a useful difference. But on their own these changes will not be enough. If we are to see the more dynamic process that many people agreed last year they wanted, it will take an effort from more than just FPC and FCC tinkering with a few processes. But I’ll come on that: firstly let me tell you what we have done. Read more…

Federal Policy Committee

Jeremy has been a member of the party’s Federal Policy Committee (FPC) since 2001. The FPC is the national body responsible for overseeing the party’s policy-making and has normally been chaired by the party leader. It commissions and approves all major policy papers put to party conference. Jeremy has been elected annually to FPC by representatives at the party conference. The FPC is also responsible for drawing up first the party’s pre-manifesto and then the final manifesto for the General Election. Jeremy is now one of the Vice Chairs of FPC and he chaired some of the key meetings of the committee which prepared the Liberal Democrats’ Manifesto for the 2005 General Election. He also represents FPC on the Federal Conference Committee (FCC), the body which co-ordinates the agenda and other aspects of the twice-yearly Liberal Democrat party conference. In 2004 Jeremy wrote a pamphlet proposing changes and improvements to the party’s policy-making processes (see below). He has also been particularly involved in several specific policy areas:


He was a member of the party’s working group on Crime and Policing Policy, which drafted the party’s policy approved at Conference in Autumn 2002, which you can read here. At Conference he spoke and successfully persuaded Conference to accept an option allowing the lifting of the ‘double jeopardy’ rule in certain very limited and clearly prescribed circumstances.

Public Services

Oldperson-talkingtoL.jpg Jeremy has taken an active part in the party’s debate about the future of the public services, and the Government’s enthusiasm for involving the private sector in it. He firmly believes that policy should be driven by what will produce the best outcome for members of the public using the services, and not by ideology. In September 2002 the Local Government Association Lib Dem Group published a collection of studies of Liberal Democrats’ experience of PFI deals edited by Jeremy, It’s About the Public, Stupid, which is available here. JeremysurroundedbykidsL.JPG


Jeremy has a particular interest in Education Policy. Whilst at University he was elected by the Student Union Council to sit on Hebdomadal Council, Oxford University’s Governing Body. In his current job he now particularly follows the development of education policy, especially in working to improve standards in a very challenging inner city setting. In December 2001 he published Private Sector Working, a study of the first outsourcing of a whole Local Education Authority in the country.


Jeremy was also an active member of the working group which produced the party’s paper on the Future of Europe, approved at Conference in Spring 2003. You can read this paper here. Jeremy also represented the Federal Policy Committee at the European Liberal Democrats’ Congress in Brussels in April 2004, and the Liberal International Congress in Budapest in March 2002. You can read more about Jeremy’s views on Europe in the Europe section of this website, here.

Wasted Rainforests: an essay on the policy-making process of the Liberal Democrats

WRCV.jpg It’s time to look again at the way in which the Liberal Democrats make our party policy. The current procedures, put in place at the birth of the party fifteen years ago, have served us well in the task of creating a body of policy for a new party. But too often they now stand in the way rather than helping us to develop the clear, comprehensible, and politically distinctive Liberal Democrat policies, which an organisation aiming to become a party of government needs. Our current policy-making process certainly has strengths. It is an open and admirably consultative process. It comes up with robust, well thought-through policies, which are respected by experts in the field. But the problem is that these strengths come at the price of the loss of some things which a party like the Lib Dems needs from a policy-making system. Read more…

Wasted Rainforests: what others said

Jonathan Calder, Liberal Democrat News: “Our policy process matters, and this pamphlet deserves to be widely read and acted upon…Jeremy argues that we need policies with a stronger infusion of Liberal Democrat ideology “There is much to be said for Jeremy’s idea of having more topical debates that are not tied to the policy process.” Mark Smulian, Liberator magazine: “This booklet skewers the failings of the party’s policy making process in a mere 30 pages. “Hargreaves also nails the malign effects the present arrangement has on the party’s ability to react politically to public concerns.” Liberal Future: “Hargreaves’s proposals come from several years practical party policy experience as well as extensive political experience…You can sense real insight and conviction in his analysis and much to think about in his proposed solutions. “Liberal Future heartily recommends this essay as required reading for those who care about the future of the party.”

Policy-making structures

In February 2005 Jeremy took part in a seminar in Sofia on participative policy making organised by the UK-South East Europe Forum, supported by the British Council. The seminar discussed processes for making policy in the UK and in different countries within the region. You can find the presentation Jeremy made about the formal policy-making strutures of the three main UK political parties here.