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Party Conferences 2024

This will be the first party conference season after the General Election and offers an important chance to get face time with new MPs. This page contains important information on what they are and why you should attend. The AoC Public Affairs team will be at all three main party conferences, hosting events as part of the Skills Hub organised by the Future Skills Coalition.

The three main party's autumn conferences:

Liberal Democrats (Brighton) Sunday 14 – Tuesday 17 September

Labour (Liverpool) Sunday 22 – Wednesday 25 September

Conservative (Birmingham) Sunday 29 September – Wednesday 2 October

What are party conferences?

Party conferences are multi-day events held by political parties. They offer parties the opportunity to discuss important issues, raise revenue, connect with their membership, and attract media attention. Importantly for Liberal Democrat and Labour party members, they also offer the chance to debate and vote on party policy.

Party conferences are massive events, with hundreds of fringe sessions on a range of specialist topics, exhibitions and displays from large organisations, networking receptions and speeches from the party’s leadership.

Party members and activists are joined by politicians, candidates, journalists, and many others including representatives from think tanks, business, charities and trade unions.

Why should you attend party conference?

With a general election on the horizon, this is a particularly good year to attend. There's lots of benefits:

  • Advocate for the sector: conferences are a great opportunity to advocate for the sector and your college. You can arrange to meet with your local and neighbouring MPs and candidates, ask questions during fringe sessions, and talk about the sector and the work you are doing during networking events.
  • Networking: party conferences attract a wide range of influential people including politicians, business leaders and lots of organisations from across the further education and skills sector and beyond. This creates an ideal environment for building new relationships with other key stakeholders and sharing ideas.
  • Learn what policy makers are thinking: conferences are a good way to meet with policy makers and understand their thinking on a variety of issues. Often ministers and shadow ministers will attend fringe sessions (smaller sessions outside of the main speeches) related to their portfolio which gives attendees an insight to their thinking and the opportunity to press them on their priorities.

How can I attend?

You can attend by registering on the party conference websites. Passes can be expensive, as can accommodation in the area and with this year set to be incredibly busy - particularly at Labour conference - booking in advance is encouraged.

It’s worth noting that while delegates need a pass to access the main conference hall where speeches take place, there are many fringe events that are happening around the main conference centre and in town that don’t require a pass to access. The guides for these events haven’t been released, but once they are we will share them with members. This could mean that local colleges may be able to attend a session nearby to get a flavour of what party conferences are all about at minimal cost.

How can AoC support?

Members of the team will be attending each of the three conferences, so if you are coming along do let us know. We’d be delighted to meet up for a coffee if you are there.

We can also support you by accompanying you to any MP meetings you have booked and providing a briefing on the most up-to-date sector issues.

We’ll provide more information on our plans in the upcoming months, but if you are interested in attending but have a few questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at public_affairs@aoc.co.uk