Following the passing of my motion on the Employment Support Allowance at Lib Dem autumn conference, Liberal Youth (who sponsored the motion) have been working with the DPC (Disabled People's Council) and Macmillan to campaign to get peers to amend the welfare reform bill to stop it having drastic and devastating effects on the lives of the long term sick and disabled. The most pernicious of these changes is the introduction of an arbitrary time limit, where sick and disabled people (including cancer patients) will only receive benefits for a maximum of 12 months, after which they'll be left to fend for themselves regardless they are capable of working or not.
I recently got an update from Liberal Youth on what exactly they've been up to with regards to their campaign and so, for those who are interested, here's what's been happening.
Since conference they've been working with Lib Dem HQ staff to identify other lords that will support changing the Welfare Reform Bill so they can organise a briefing for them. They've also had a meeting about using councils to pass motions against the ESA changes and to generate pressure from local government, while one of the LY executive has emailed a leading peer about ESA in order to try and get them on side as a "big beast" in the Lords.
They've drafted some text about ESA and the motion and what peers can do about it which they will try and persuade the whips office to send out to the lords and they're also working with disability charities to obtain their indexes of friendly peers and their contact details so that LY can speak to them about ESA.
Their main focus at the moment is on finding their 'Lords champion' who will be vital in the success of the campaign as they're crucial to being able to set up the Lords briefing. They've also got a comms strategy in place which will ramp up the profile of the campaign as things get closer to the vote in the Lords.
All in all, it seems as though they'll be bringing a significant amount of pressure to bear over the next two weeks and I really hope it will be successful. The strategy is sound, at any rate, the hard bit will be getting peers to truly take the message on-board.
UPDATE: Caron Lindsay has also blogged about efforts on this front at the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference. You can read her blogpost here.