What is a Party Conference?
UK political parties hold their main annual conferences every autumn where politicians, party members and the party’s affiliated groups gather. Party conferences present an opportunity to strengthen party support and relationships with party members, garner media coverage of the party’s policy proposals and fundraise from members and donors.
Some political parties use party conferences to make key policy decisions. The Labour Party’s Rule Book sets out that ‘the work of the Party shall be under the direction and control of Party conference’.
At Labour conferences, party-affiliated groups, trade unions and local parties formulate and vote on motions deciding the party’s policy direction for the next year.
The Liberal Democrats’ party conference is the main body in which decisions are made; all members may vote on policy motions.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) conference is the top governing body responsible for electing their National Executive Committee and voting on major policy positions.
Plaid Cymru’s party conference is the ‘highest authority of the party’ responsible for deciding the party’s policy and electing National Officers.
The Green Party’s party conference also provides an opportunity to vote on party policy after which a party platform is published setting out its policies.
Unlike these parties, the Conservative Party does not vote on policy at their conference.
The Liberal Democrats and SNP also host spring conferences while the Conservatives host a ‘spring forum’.
A selection of our content on party conferences can be viewed here.