Coffee House

Rallying the Liberal Democrat faithful

22 September 2012

22 September 2012

One of the striking features of the opening rally at Liberal Democrat conference was how it was figures from the left of the party who attacked Labour most vigorously. Simon Hughes, the deputy leader, scolded those who think that governing with Labour would be easy; pointing out that the parties are at odds on nuclear power, Trident, civil liberties and a whole host of other issues. While the party’s president Tim Farron demanded that Labour apologise for the expensive failure of the NHS PFI projects, the Iraq war and a whole host of other issues.

Nick Clegg himself was on fairly confident form. He began with a couple of gags about his unlikely chart success. He reserved his most withering fire for Labour, saying ‘no wonder Ed Miliband gets so excited when he gets a text from Vince, it is the only good advice he gets.’ There was also a rather weak joke about how Ed Balls has had to stop texting Cable as he has ‘run out of credit’.

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There were, of course, a fair few jibes at the Tories. Farron said that Michael Gove had downgraded George Osborne from Plan A to a B—because that’s what he does halfway through a term. Stephen Lloyd, the MP for Eastbourne, boasted that the Lib Dems would ‘face down the right wing of the Tory party any place, anytime, any day, any way,.’ While Hughes held up a Greenpeace poster blaring ‘Don’t let Osborne kill green growth’.

What lots of people are talking about afterwards, though, is Jo Swinson’s performance. Her fluently delivered speech did a good job of getting over the party’s message on its income tax cut for basic rate taxpayers and cheering up the activists. It showed why so many of those around Clegg want her to be the first female Lib Dem Cabinet Minister.

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Show comments
  • Jules

    This party is not fit to be anywhere near power.

    They can laugh all they want at Labour but Labour are on 40+% in the polls and the Lib Dems are under 10%. They will be laughing on the other side of their faces in 2015.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Yep Nick Clegg ‘Top Of The Flops’. What an accolade!

  • Alexsandr

    Dear Nick Clegg,
    I hear you are having a rally for the Liberal Democrat faithful.
    I can rent you my boxroom which will seat 3 or maybe 4 people for £1.20/hr.
    Please let me know if you are interested.

    Meerkat Harborough

  • BigAl

    Mr Alexander must be very pleased that he is not avoiding tax by flipping his London flat to be his primary place of residence. Also, this flat is not paid for mainly by tax free allowances paid by the hard pressed tax payer.

    What are these guys on that they can preach to us about tax avoidance (which is perfectly legal by the way) while practising it themselves?

    Life is not fair!

    • james102

      He probably thinks tax is for the plebs ,not the likes of him. A bit like Lagard and her remarks about the Greeks not paying tax when it turns out she doesn’t!

  • Austin Barry

    James, join the hacks at your hotel bar for the mandatory oblivion drinking session, this conference sounds dire.

    Soon the Brighton String Quartet will start playing “Nearer My God to Thee” as the Lib-Dems sink into historical oblivion and Rinka, the Great Dane murdered on the altar of Liberal ambition will bark harmoniously in the Elysian Fields.

    • Daniel Maris

      Jeremy Thorpe is still alive! I went to check…before I commented on the sad demise of Rinka.

      • ArchiePonsonby

        I sincerely hope that he’s not alive! I mean, those ghastly poovy hats!

        • Austin Barry

          For a man who had the sexual charisma of a 1920’s undertaker Thorpe’s prancing around in pillow-biting abandon declaring that, ‘Bunnies can and will go to France’ always seemed bizarre. Contemplating Thorpe and the antics of his Liberal contemporary, the waddling paedophile Cyril Smith, an evil man who ultimately drowned in the ocean of his self-indulgent, buttery flesh, one is reminded that the party is, and has always has been, a marshalling yard for misguided oddities. Rinka and his canine chums seem benign and sentient by comparison.

          • ArchiePonsonby

            Well quite, AB, and I remember at the time of the shot dog affair that Thorpe’s, er, shall we say, proclivities had been known by Fleet Street for many a yonk, but they kept it under wraps. How times change, eh?

      • ArchiePonsonby

        I sincerely hope that he’s not alive! I mean, those ghastly poovy hats!

  • HooksLaw

    Did Jo Swinson defend the extra tax raised to pay for the increase in allowances?

    How can she become a cabinet minister when libdems constantly dis their own government? Do they think they will be re-elected to have a chance of making her a cabinet minister if they constantly undermine their own government and attack fellow cabinet ministers?

  • AnotherDaveB

    Is The Specator going to be covering the UKIP conference?

    • HooksLaw

      They probably will, but whether they will point out what a load of numpty loony tunes the UKIPers are is another matter.

      • james102

        Don’t worry they will find a few oddballs even if they have to recruit them. Billions of unaudited Euros sloshing around, you can buy a lot of politicians not to mention Foreign Office officials pretty cheaply. Was that question about a French agent in the FO ever asked in parliament?

      • William Blakes Ghost

        Yep calling people names always rallies them to the cause of those doing the name calling. Perhaps some should take a moment to read ‘How to win friends and influence people”.

        And they accuse UKIP of being numpty loony tunes. Go figure……..

    • james102

      Latest YouGov poll:

      CON 34%, LAB 43%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 8%

  • Paul

    I don’t envy political journalists having to waste their Saturday watching Clegg and the other children at Conference.

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