There has always been a sense that Nick Clegg and his coterie have been separate from the rest of the Liberal Democrats. They were more hard-headed in their politics, more professional in their approach and more ambitious for power. But every year of Clegg’s leadership, the party becomes more like the leader. This conference, the Cleggites have been in the ascendant in the hall and on the fringe.
The leadership has won every important vote, the activists have happily engaged in surprisingly non-ideological discussions about future coalitions and there has been far less hand-wringing about the compromises of power. In the first years of the coalition, speaker after speaker would bemoan the loss of various councillors, who were portrayed as the innocent victims of coalition. This year there has been far less of that.
In previous years, there has also been a suggestion that the Liberal Democrats should hold tight during coalition safe in the knowledge that they’ll be able to return to the comforts of opposition soon enough. That feeling has gone now. The Liberal Democrats are now as hungry for power — with all its compromises — as any party in Britain.Tags: Liberal Democrat conference 2013, Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, UK politics