Posts Tagged ‘Lib Dems’
Last month, Birmingham hosted the Liberal Democrats’ annual Autumn Conference where a number of things happened including Nick Clegg announcing new Government policy on International Aid, Lynne Featherstone said that the Government would now hold open talks about legalising marriage for gay people and Sarah Teather made some very bad jokes.
Lib Dems across the country have had a hard time of late. A lot of grassroots members are still unsure about the Coalition and May’s devastating local elections results left a lot of people feeling deflated. Conference was the perfect chance for the Party President, Tim Farron, to boost morale. In his speech he said he was elected to provide a voice for Lib Dems outside of Government. That he was there to say what Ministers couldn’t. That he was there not to be an apologist for the Coalition, but to shout out Lib Dem successes in the Coalition. This was met by one of many standing ovations doled out to various high-flyers in the party.
More than previously, the Lib Dems have been very vociferous in in showing they and the Tories are two very different parties. Clegg, Farron, Featherstone and a host of other MPs made very sure that members knew this wasn’t an electoral pact. That despite what Labour and other Coalition critics say, two beds definitely are better than one.
For the Lib Dems, Conference is a chance for delegates to decide party policy – which could, for the next four years, become Government policy too. This year proved to be a landmark year with ground-breaking motions being overwhelmingly voted in. One was the “Science, Not Stigma” motion, brought forward by Chris Ward. This was against the ban, and then 12 month deferral, on gay men donating blood. Another was the legalisation and regulation of all drugs, based on the Portuguese model
Conference is also a place for fun though. After a long day of debating, amending and voting, it’s time for the ties to be loosened and the hair to come down. As soon as the lanyards are off, the party animals emerge. It’s an opportunity for the young and the old to mingle, have a drink and maybe even hit a foam party. Work hard and play harder. In fact, my favourite line of the conference was hearing Tim Farron MP complaining about the price of a drink at the hotel bar: “Danny Alexander had to scrap Trident to pay for two pints!” This is the Liberal Democrats many young people know and love.