October was a month which began for me in India and ended in Cairo. I had been invited to India by the Indian High Commission along with a small delegation of Parliamentarians who are “Liberal Democrat Friends of India”. We were led by Lord John Alderdice through a week’s visit which was split between Delhi and Pune and included a number of meeting and visits to reflect India today, politically, socially and economically.
I was in Cairo for three days to attend the Congress of Liberal International, which is held every 18 months. The Lib Dem delegation is led by the Party President, but all the work is done by the Chair of the International Relations Committee, who is Robert Woodthorpe Brown. It’s a pretty humbling experience to hear from campaigners who risk their life and liberty for working to make democratic change in oppressive regimes, and certainly puts domestic politics into perspective.
In between the two, Parliament resumed after the summer recess, and I’ve been busy in the Lords with voting, select committee work and a few speeches. The expenses issue continues to rumble. Currently both Houses are waiting for the publication of the independent reviews on allowance/expenses (Kelly in the Commons and the Senior Salaries Review Body in the Lords). Work on a Lib Dem Parliamentary Code of Conduct can be finalised when the outcome of these reviews is clearer.
The Chief Officers Group met, and discussed the outline of the business plan for next year, along with a presentation about the new Party website, which is now live. Federal Policy Committee has a busy schedule of meetings at the best the times, but is currently meeting a challenging timetable to have the outline general election manifesto completed by Christmas. Federal Executive met, and I provided a report for LDV the same week.
I’ve made the usual range of local party visits; Aldershot, Altrincham & Sale, Winchester and Islington, plus the regional conferences in the North West and the West Midlands. I’d really like to pay tribute to Dave Hodgson and his team in Bedford for his outstanding victory in the Bedford mayoral by-election. Not only did he push Labour into 5th place, but he defeated the Tories in a seat they have been spending a lot of money and were confident of winning.
* Baroness Ros Scott is President of the Liberal Democrats.