The Lib Dem Conference Roll of Honour

I was at a loss to understand why I was so absolutely knackered at the end of Conference last night. It’s not as if I had had to drag my sorry, Glee-Club hungover backside the length of the country as I would have been if I’d been at an in-person conference. It’s not as if I had had about 15 hours’ sleep over the past 5 nights of “networking.”

Certainly, sitting in front of a screen for 12 hours a day is pretty exhausting. So, I guess, is the emotional energy used up wishing I was actually with my friends in the Goat and Tricycle in Bournemouth or Smokeys in Brighton.

But that was pretty much all I was doing. For those organising Conference, it was much harder. Spinning the plates over the four days of the virtual Conference is pretty intense for Federal Conference Committee. They have to deal with all the speakers’ cards, manage the debates, deal with unexpected tech problems, make decisions about what separate vote requests, requests for references back etc to take.

So, Federal Conference Committee, take a bow. You did a superb job. Those based in the Docklands HQ  that I remember seeing over the weekend included Jennie Rigg, Jon Ball, Bex Scott, Chris Adams, Cara Jenkinson, Chris Maines and Joe Otten. This does not mean I agreed with every single one of their decisions, because that would be weird, but I do want to pay tribute to their hard work.

One person I want to single out was also there. It was new Committee Chair Nick Da Costa’s first Conference in charge and by all accounts he did a great job. My spies tell me that he was the most supportive and appreciative manager and he was also quick to respond to queries from Conference attendees on social media.

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Christine Jardine on trans rights: It’s all about people

Christine Jardine went on Woman’s Hour yesterday to talk about transgender rights in the wake of Ed’s Marr interview on Sunday where that topic was the only one Andrew Marr seemed interested in talking about.

Woman’s Hour host Emma Barnett threw absolutely everything at Christine, who patiently and calmly answered questions for over 20 minutes. It’s worth a listen here.

Barnett repeated the question Marr had put to Ed yesterday – what was wrong with a t-shirt with the slogan woman: adult human female. Ed stood up for our policy that trans rights are human rights and we support the right of trans people to self-identify very well. The one tweak I would have made was the point that Christine made. That phrase is used as a dog-whistle by anti-trans activists to justify their misinformation about and attacks on trans people.

On that question, I liked the way that my friend Duncan put it on Twitter

No matter what the subject, one of the things that Christine always does is bring it back to people. She doesn’t do abstract. It’s all about the human impact. She talked about one friend with a transgender son, another who had transitioned and stayed married and how, if she had one child who was trans and one who wasn’t, how she’d want them both to have the same life chances.

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Jane Dodds’ speech to Federal Conference

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds gave her first speech to Federal Conferece since she was elected as a Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales in May.

Here is the text in full:

I want to take you back to May 1999, and the first-ever elections to the then Welsh Assembly.

Almost 600 years after the first Welsh Parliament was established in June 1404, the people of Wales once again had its own national democratic institution.

Wales was entering a new dawn – an opportunity to meaningfully hand power to people, to communities, away from the corridors of power.

It was an opportunity to cast off the dust and to set about creating our own destiny here in Wales.

Our job here in Wales is made all the more difficult by Conservatives in Westminster and their assault on devolution and our national parliament.

But that quiet earthquake in 1999 has passed many people in Wales by. 22 years on and that radical, reforming streak that ushered in a new era has, in too many ways, been replaced by a steady incrementalism, slow to move when the world is hurtling on.

Now, granted, even after 1999 Wales operated with two hands tied behind its back and we don’t yet have all the tools we need to shape a fairer, greener, more liberal Wales. And our job here in Wales is made all the more difficult by Conservatives in Westminster and their assault on devolution and our national parliament.

It is our job, as liberals, and my job as the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, to make the case for a new relationship between people and parliament and between the nations of the United Kingdom.

We need to rediscover our radical, progressive voice and offer new and inspiring ideas – and we have work to do.

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By Gove, my LUD is planning to level up!

In last week’s reshuffle, Robert Jenrick was booted out of cabinet and Michael Gove nudged across to take over the housing and planning brief. His duties as secretary of state now also include the struggling levelling up agenda. So the department that was most often called the housing ministry has been renamed the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, DLUHC, perhaps pronounced duller huck. Given the ordering of priorities in the title it seems inevitable that the department will be known as the Levelling Up Department, or LUD, though some may think that acronym LUDicrous. Indeed, it has attracted both criticism and satire.

Gove’s main job is to prevent the Blue Wall collapsing by rolling back Jenrick’s failing planning reforms. He must also secure the Red Wall by making levelling up happen. That’s tough for a man, although born in Aberdeen, who is identified with Blue Wall Tories. And there is already concern that local government will suffer yet again now it has been dropped from the department’s title. Michael Gove may feel he has a collar around his neck, tasked with delivering what his boss Boris Johnson could not.

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Justin Trudeau gets away with his gamble

After a $600 million election that Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t need to call, voters have delivered virtually the same result as in 2019. Trudeau failed to re-gain the majority he won in 2015. In fact, his Liberal Party is likely to lose a seat and the Conservatives will gain a seat.

I had been hoping that the New Democrats would have won more seats to anchor the Liberals to a more progressive path, but they are projected to only gain 3 seats.

The Greens will stay on two but not the same two as last time as their vote share fell. They held their former leader’s seat in Vancouver and gained one in Ontario where the Liberal candidate was not supported by the party after a scandal but there was no time to replace him on the ballot. Internal divisions led to them losing their original two and having a pretty miserable election. Their leader will not be in Parliament as she went from 2nd (in a by-election) to 4th in her seat.  Thanks to Em Dean for providing me with more detailed information.

The odious UKIP style People’s Party have more than doubled their vote.

From CBC in Canada:

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has won enough seats in this 44th general election to form another minority government — with voters signalling Monday they trust the incumbent to lead Canada through the next phase of the pandemic fight by handing him a third mandate with a strong plurality.

After a 36-day campaign and a $600-million election, the final seat tally doesn’t look very different from the composition of the House of Commons when it was dissolved in early August — prompting even more questions about why a vote was called during a fourth wave of the pandemic in the first place.

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WATCH: Alex Cole-Hamilton’s speech to #ldconf offering #newhope

: Yesterday, Alex-Cole-Hamilton gave his first speech as Scottish Leader to Conference. It was delayed, despite being pre-recorded. Some technical hitch meant that we had to vote to allow the agenda to change so they could sort it out.

Watch here:

Filmed outside Holyrood in the sunshine, he paid tribute to his predecessor Willie Rennie and other Scottish Liberal legends Jim Wallace, Jo Swinson and Charles Kennedy.

He talked about how the party under him will offer new hope to a Scotland whose public services were struggling due to SNP neglect even before the pandemic.

“We are a people trapped between flags” he said of the SNP’s Scottish Nationalism and Boris Johnson’s Brexit nationalism.

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Government must ‘not let the sun go down’ on the UK performers

Liberal Democrats have backed calls from Sir Elton John for the UK Government to urgently resolve the growing crisis facing the UK cultural sector.

At their national Conference today, the party has unanimously backed calls for swift action to address the red tape and paperwork that is stopping UK artists, performers, and musicians from being able to tour and perform in Europe.

Sir Elton has been a vocal critic of the Government’s failure to resolve this issue, which was caused following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU without a full scheme in place to enable paperless travel for performers.

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Liberal Democrats call for radical new approach to Israel/Palestine conflict

The Liberal Democrats have called for more trade with Palestine and Israel, more resources for peace and upholding of international law by ceasing trade with illegal settlements.

Liberal Democrat members have today passed a motion at party conference calling for a new approach to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The motion, the first on Israel/Palestine at Lib Dem conference since 2017, reaffirms the party’s call for immediate recognition of the state of Palestine alongside calling on the UK Government to commit further resources to peace.

The Liberal Democrats have become the first UK political party to formally support the creation of a peace fund for the region to build trust between Israeli and Palestinian communities, modelled on similar schemes previously used in Northern Ireland.

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Values and Principles – the summation speech

Conference, I want to begin by thanking Duncan Brack, who led the work on this Principles and Values motion with Alyssa Gilbert, on behalf of FPC. Duncan was kind enough to let me take his moment of glory this morning. And he did so because he felt it was important for a new member like me to share my experiences of the LibDems with all of you. So he handed over this slot to me because he felt it would be good for the party. And so we begin, with our principles in action.

Conference, the values put forward in this motion are values that I know we already share. And I know you share them with me because you’re all staring at a screen right now instead of having a lazy Sunday morning breakfast. I suspect I don’t have to work too hard to convince you of the merits of Liberty, Equality, Democracy, Community, Internationalism, and Environmentalism.

Instead, I want to tell you about how I have seen these values practised at all levels of the party, pretty much from Day 1 of my time with the LibDems.

This motion isn’t just about what we believe, it’s also about how we behave. It isn’t just about a set of principles on paper- it’s about how we translate these principles into action. Every single day.

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“Poverty of trust”

A very good friend of mine from Croatia (thank you, Hrvoje!) has recently invited me to an international online meeting, attended by 40 + different business leaders from around the world. The main theme for the session was the importance of building and strengthening the trust. The meeting, and in particular some of the expressions used, was quite revealing.

Whilst going through the process of being approved as a candidate in the next local elections, I had an opportunity to spend one Saturday morning with some of my colleagues, who are very experienced campaigners.

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COP26: Likely to save the planet?

Now, I’m not the sort of person that resorts to hyperbole for a dramatic opening sentence but, in case you hadn’t noticed, the future of the planet is hanging in the balance. This is not the statement of a wild-haired fanatic, living with badgers and chanting cross-legged in the woods but a widely acknowledged scientific fact. For the last few years a growing list of eminently respectable people have been warning us that urgent action is required: Sir David Attenborough does it, HRH Prince Charles regularly does it, António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations definitely does it, even peers of the realm do it. Given irrefutable scientific evidence and the reverberating voices of powerful and respected people, then surely, you would think, something is going to change. We know the causes of climate change. We know what action needs to be taken. So, what is stopping us?

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Party strategy motion passes – with amendment securing local members rights on standing candidates

This morning Conference passed the party strategy motion. One of the Federal Board’s key tasks is to bring a motion on party strategy to Conference for approval.

This one had lots of good stuff in it on developing a strong narrative, improving diversity and menber experience, developing our campaigning capacity and having a “one party” approach where we co-ordinate our effort.

There were four amendments, all of which passed and, I think, substantially improved it. Lib Dems for Racial Equality called for this party to finally pull its finger out and implement the Thornhill and Alderdice reviews and get out and engage with ethnic minority communities. The Parliamentary Candidates Association called for greater support for candidates and 10 members called for our progress towards net zero as a party to be expedited.

These three passed with little opposition. The drama was all around an amendment proposed by Federal Board member Simon McGrath. It called for us to stand a candidate in every seat at the next General Election unless local members agreed not to. Anyone who bears the scars of the Unite to Remain effort in 2019 will probably have some sympathy with this. However, others, including me, felt that it would bind any attempts to stand down in some places where it would be sensible to do so. I generally think we should stand everywhere, and I think that voices calling on us to stand down are generally from parties who wouldn’t do the same in return, but I felt we should give ourselves the flexibility.

ALDC Chair Prue Bray made such a good speech in support that I asked her if we could publish it. It’s just rammed with good sense about how we should work together and I love it.

I want to get rid of this government. Not because it’s Conservative but because it’s dreadful. It’s dreadful because it isn’t liberal, in its policies, values or behaviour. I want a liberal government, or at least one that we can exert the maximum liberal influence on. And the only way to get that is to get more Lib Dems elected. Labour aren’t liberal, nor are the Greens, the SNP or Plaid.

It’s us or nothing.

We won’t get more Lib Dems elected if we don’t stand, however tempting a pre-election pact might look. Unite to Remain looked tempting. It didn’t deliver anything.

When the battle is over, when the votes are counted, that’s the time to make pacts to further the progressive cause. And that’s why I strongly support amendment 3.

There are people who don’t agree. That’s fine, I don’t mind challenge. What I mind is people who tell me I am wrong without producing any supporting facts, and then go off and do whatever they want even if it’s completely against the interests of the party.

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Conference votes for improvements to disciplinary process and votes down Steering Group

The Federal Board report usually goes through fairly uncontroversially. However, there has been a bit of drama at the past two conferences. In Spring important board business relating to the disciplinary process was withdrawn at the last minute after a serious error was discovered.

This delayed desperately needed improvements to the disciplinary process until now. You can find out more about the detail here in the Board report.

Thankfully, those changes, which make the process quicker, less stressful on those using it and on those administering it and clearer, passed easily this afternoon.

Last Summer, the Federal Board started operating in a different way. One of the Thornhill Review’s 78 recommendations was to improve the governance of the party and make the Federal Board smaller. The Board decided to delegate most of its powers to a small, mostly not directly elected people. As a directly elected Federal Board member, I opposed it from the outset. If such a centralising power grab was being done in a council, we would be up in arms about it. I always think it is very important to live our values and I don’t feel that the Steering Group project does that. We are a member led organisation but we concentrated power into too few hands.

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WATCH: Ed Davey’s speech in full

WATEd Davey has just spoken to Federal Conference. He had a specially invited live audience of around 100 people at a venue in Canary Wharf.

Here is the text in full:

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Davey announces flagship Catch-Up Voucher policy

Today Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has announced a new flagship Education policy on the third day of the party’s conference – Catch-Up Vouchers.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a £15 billion package of education catch-up funding, as recommended by the Government’s former Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins.

As part of this, the party is calling for a £5 billion programme of Catch-Up Vouchers for every school child, putting the money directly into parents’ hands to spend on whatever their children need most: tutoring in reading, writing or maths; music lessons; swimming classes or other physical education.

This idea of a three-year programme of education Catch-Up Vouchers would become the world’s biggest ever parent-listening exercise.

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The speeches that got away – Suzanne Fletcher on accessible housing and freeing Brownfield sites

Unfortunately I missed the housing debate last night as for once I put party over Party. My sister insisted on having two of her children during Federal Conference and I can almost never celebrate with them because I am at Conference. So I took advantage of the chance to do so.

By all accounts the debate was excellent, thoughtful and passionately argued. The issue was whether we should have a national target for house building, which the motion proposed, but ALDC’s amendment did away with. Conference voted to keep it so we are committed to building at 150,000 homes suitable for social rent out of a total of 380,000 per year. I am so pleased that got through. Too many young people find it impossible to find somewhere decent to live that they can afford and we have to be ambitious about resolving that.

But there are two points that weren’t really part of the debate. Stockton’s Suzanne Fletcher wanted to raise the need for accessible housing and freeing up brownfield sites. This is what she would have said if she had been called:

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Daisy Cooper: Liberal Britain needs you

In her conference speech, Daisy Cooper – MP for St Albans since 2019, deputy leader and Lib Dem spokesperson for education – tackles liberty and rights. She talks about how how individual liberties and freedom of expression have been eroded by Labour and Conservative governments. And about how Liberal Democrats have challenged and protested over decades. Rights and liberties are under attack again from a nationalist Tory government which is attacking our right to peaceful protest and weakening the right of every individual to take the government to court when it fails them. A liberal Britain would give people the freedom to be whoever they want to be and live their lives as they choose. There will be more power to people to make decisions in their communities, at work and in their everyday lives.

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World Review: Afghanistan, child labour and vaccine passports in France

In this weekend’s World Review, Tom Arms reports the Taliban is proving to be a loose coalition that is quickly falling apart along centuries-old tribal lines and more contemporary political axes. He turns his attention to the impact that Covid is having on child labour in the developing world. And he reviews how Marcon’s insistence on vaccine passports turned France from an country opposed to vaccination to one where 74% of adults have had at least one dose.

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Ed Davey profiled on BBC Radio 4

In his usual, often sardonic, style, Ed Davey has profiled by Mark Coles. In this 15-minute broadcast, we hear things we knew and things we probably didn’t. The profile begins with his birth on Christmas Day. Being orphaned. Neighbours leaving food on the doorstep. His school but good exam performance. Setting up a debating society. Being a prog rocker. Falling asleep at parties. In a gap year working in the local pork pie factory before interrailing and on to Oxford for PPE. Despite bad green jumpers, MI6 tried to recruit him. Rescuing woman from path of ongoing train.

And then …

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Moran: Introduce Health Data Trust to protect private medical data

Today, at their Conference, the Liberal Democrats have backed ambitious plans to safeguard private health data.

The party is calling for the establishment of a five-point ‘Health Data Charter’, which will set out key tests for whether data sharing is in the interest of the public and the NHS.

They also propose a ‘Sovereign Health Data Trust’, which would bring together experts, clinicians and patient representatives to oversee the implementation and observance of the new charter.

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Moran calls for commitment on rough sleeping

Layla Moran has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to “demonstrate a clear commitment” to the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge of ending rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament by rolling out Housing First across England at the forthcoming Spending Review, and by pushing for the scrapping of the Vagrancy Act.

In her letter, Layla says that the “time is right for a new national and political effort to tackle homelessness”, adding that “Because Housing First works, we also know in the long term it saves us money.”

There have already been successful pilot schemes in England, and in her debate on rough sleeping in the Commons last week, Layla urged for the programme to be rolled out.

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Lib Dems urge sanctions and Olympic boycott on China over Uyghur genocide

The Liberal Democrats have passed a motion at their party conference that calls for sanctions on Chinese officials and a boycott of the Winter Olympics.

The motion also calls for family reunification of those forced into “re-education” camps and calls on the Foreign Secretary to grant asylum to Uyghurs fleeing persecution.

Liberal Democrats have consistently called on the UK Government to take urgent action against those perpetrating these atrocities, including the use of Magnitsky sanctions.

Ahead of the vote at their party conference Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran has written to every UK Government Minister urging them to back a boycott of the Winter Olympic games due to happen in February 2022.

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Paul McGarry talks of his “chaotic” youth in debate on support for care leavers #ldconf

Earlier today, Conference passed a motion calling for better support for care leavers up until the age of 25.

During the debate, Scottish Lib Dem Housing spokesperson Paul McGarry talked about why the measures outlined in the motion were so important and would have helped him. He describes the terrifying experience of being homeless at 16 after a “chaotic” childhood.

He has kindly sent us his speech so that readers can understand the reality our young people have to go through.

Conference I am one of a small group within our party with a lived experience and today I want to speak specifically about my experience, and how it relates to the importance of resolution 4.

Too many children are experiencing turmoil in their day-to-day existence, dealing with parents who have addictions, their parents broken relations, physical, emotional and sexual abuse within the home.

My own experience was a childhood that was disrupted and chaotic and a constant fear that we might be taken into care. We received support and my mum received support, we had neighbours and people in the community helping us, in fact my first contact with the Lib Dems was when we stayed with a Lib Dem MP and his wife, when my mum was particularly unwell.

Life was chaotic but I mostly was not permanently in the care system though my brother was.

This came to a head and at 16 I was homeless, homeless and terrified.

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ALDC By-election report: 16 September 2021

It was a very busy night for the Lib Dems with by-elections up and down the country and some amazing results. We saw a 34% swing towards the Lib Dems in a Sheffield ward, sadly short of a win. Lib Dem candidate Tanya Tucker won a fantastic gain from Labour on Bishop Auckland Town Council. Jack Ashington Carter won polling 74% of the vote for a Malvern Town Council ward. Alton Wooteys held his ward on Alton Town Council with in increased share of the vote.

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Tim Farron: Time to end pointless housing targets

Be honest. When did you last collect a campaign leaflet from the doormat, see a six-figure housing target, and scream, “this is the Party for me!”?

Probably never.

Why? First, because everybody knows housing targets are empty slogans. No Government has hit their magic number since 2007, but they’ve never been held accountable for missing it. Second, every Party picks the same number… or tries to out-do the other lot by 50,000.

On Saturday evening, Conference will debate and vote on Policy Motion F20: Building Communities. I’m supporting an Amendment to the Motion which increases local authorities’ compulsory purchase powers, ensures that 40% of new build houses are social homes, and erases the proposed national target of 380,000 new homes per year.

And if anybody suggests the removal of this target is in any way NIMBY, they are… well, let’s put it politely – they’re totally wrong.

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We must stand a candidate in every constituency at the next General Election

Our Party has something to offer everyone in England Scotland and Wales and therefore it makes sense that we should stand a candidate in every seat (our friends in the Alliance Party do a great job in Northern Ireland).

That might seem like common sense – but at the last election we participated in the Unite to Remain Agreement by which we, the Greens and Plaid Cymru (Labour refused to participate) agreed to stand down in some constituencies – and it was a disaster. Not only did it make no difference to the results, but the way in which our local parties and PPCs were told they were standing down with no input from them caused huge problems.

If you agree we should stand a candidate everywhere, please support Amendment 3 to motion F23: Party Strategy, 10.55 on Sunday morning.

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Lib Dems call for Care Leavers education support

The Liberal Democrats have agreed upon a new deal for Care Leavers at their party conference today. The package calls for support measures for Care Leavers particularly in the area of education.

The party is calling for further provision to support carers right the way through their education, with support measures proposed from the early teens right the way to further education.

The motion calls for young people and Care Leavers to have specialised mentoring, extra exam support and tuition. The package also calls on the Government to increase the Care Leaver Bursary from £1,000 to £2,000.

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40 years on from Steel’s “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Government” speech

1981 was the year when, at the age of 14, I went full throttle into supporting the SDP/Liberal Alliance. Shirley Williams was my absolute hero and will always stay that way. But I will never forget the sense of hope instilled by David Steel in his leader’s speech, especially that optimistic crescendo at the end when he instructed the assembled activists: Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Government.

We had to wait a long time for national government. It was nearly 18 years before Jim Wallace took the Scottish Liberal Democrats into a successfully transformative coalition at Holyrood which introduced, over 8 years, free personal care, free eye and dental checks, much needed land reform and STV for local government among other things.

It was 29 years before the coalition with the Conservatives at Westminster provided some stability for the country at a time of crisis but sent our electoral fortunes plummetting.

However, we did start making big gains in local elections and winning councils a lot quicker, so in a way he was right that we were ready for power. And we should never dismiss the difference that councillors, in charge of schools, housing, roads and bins, can make to people’s daily lives.

Steel’s speech from 40 years ago is online on the British Political Speeches website.

Here are some highlights:

On the newly formed Alliance – and some advice to the SDP – don’t just let anyone in:

It was inevitable that this 1981 Liberal Assembly should be dominated both by public debate and private discussion of our Alliance. This town used to be part of Lloyd George’s constituency. Two years before the great Liberal landslide of 1906, the years which introduced the People’s Budget, the old age pension, unemployment benefit, and the curbing of the powers of the hereditary Lords over the elected Commons, he gave advice which seems just as appropriate today two years or so before the next election.

We have arrived at one of the most important stages in the history of the Liberal Party. I believe the future of this country largely depends upon the foresight, conviction, courage and devotion to principle of the Liberal Party during the coming years.

Our debates have carried conviction, courage, principle and foresight in full measure in these last few days. The task of putting together our Alliance on the ground throughout the country is not going to be an easy one. We must secure a reasonable balance in our deployment of forces in every area. It will be immensely complicated. It will call for a high degree of vision, of trust and of forbearance both by our party and by the SDP.

It will require trust between our two parties. The members of the SDP who have been here this week have been greatly impressed in their first close contact with the Liberal Party. They have also enjoyed the warmth of their welcome, and we were right to treat them kindly since they’ve come from a broken home – the Labour Party. I hope they won’t mind if I give them one piece of advice: as the ship of the Labour Party sinks, be careful and be discriminating about who you let clamber on board ours. Ours is a ship on a voyage of adventure. Don’t let it become a lifeboat for those whose only real interest is saving their parliamentary or council skins.

It will also require trust within our party. I want to thank you for the very considerable trust you have shown me in what I realise must at times have been a tortuous and anxious period. Now it is my turn to trust you as you proceed to give effect to our Alliance throughout the country. And I do trust you to make a success of it.

What we would do in Government? Some themes there which are similar to what we are saying today about supporting small businesses, not wasting our natural resources and investment in infrastructure:

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Conference Day 1: Tears before bedtime

Conference was barely four hours old and I had already been in tears four times.

The debate on ending conversion therapy had some brilliant speeches where people shared their accounts of the damage that this appalling practice can do to LGBT people. I am hoping to have some of those speeches to publish on here.

I also cried at a wonderful fringe event where former leader Jo Swinson talked to Lib Dem Councillor Rabina Khan about her excellent book My Hair is Pink under this Veil It is such a good book that had me raging and crying as she described the disgusting racism she and, particularly her mother, experienced when they came to this country. One of these days I will write a proper review of it. We all should read more about the lived experience of the crap that every single person of colour has to put up with. Jo and Rabina spoke about her childhood, about motherhood and the discrimination that Muslim women have to deal with in maternity services, about how Islamophobia has got much worse since 9/11 and about feminism and about how all women need to stick together to fight for equality. Also, the Lib Dem Campaign for Race Equality is offering a free copy of Rabina’s book for the first 25 people who join them during Conference.

Elsewhere, Conference passed a motion asking for more support for business to cope with the effects of the pandemic and save jobs, including keeping VAT at 5% for hospitality and tourism and extending furlough to the end of this year. We also called for a Global Corporation Tax so that large companies pay their dues. I have put the video of Alistair Carmichael’s excellent speech on our post as it showed some breathtakingly gorgeous Orkney scenery. And it was a bloody good speech.

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The Guardian on Lib Dem strategy: Bringing down the “blue wall”

In an almost effusive leader column, today’s Guardian praises Ed Davey, Lib Dem strategy and calls the Chesham and Amersham victory stunning. It says the Liberal Democrats are determined to make that win just the first step in bringing down the Conservatives’ “blue wall”. Boris Johnson can’t be ejected from Downing Street without a Lib Dem revival. Although Ed Davey will not be telling delegates to go back to their constituencies and “prepare for government” there are good reasons to believe something is happening, including the May by-election results.

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