[email protected]… #ldconf special bumper edition

Alix Mortimer of the LDV parish rounded up some of the best commentary on the Lib Dem conference here on Sunday – let me try and bring the story up-to-date …

First up, James Graham has had an active conference, popping up a couple of times at the Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog. One was penned jointly with Neal Lawson of Compass – A camp site not a big tent – and made an unabashed pitch for social liberals and liberal socialists – whether they count themselves as Lib Dems, Labour, Greens or even nationalists – to come together in a progressive alliance. Here’s the mission statement:

Progressives in all these parties are committed to greater equality and dealing with the challenge of climate change, but the binding value is pluralism. We recognise the value of difference, distinct histories and tradition but are using them to develop a shared project that is stronger because it is based on consensus-building. What we seek is not a big tent – that has been tried and failed – but a camp site where we keep our independence but grow stronger within common boundaries. This is not a coalition of parties and votes but of ideas and hope.

James then turned his attention to the Lib Dems, and in particular to the sainted figure of the party’s deputy leader Vince Cable. Vince has had a difficult week, finding himself in the unusual position of facing some internal criticism for not consulting colleagues enough, and for not giving the party a consistent campaigning message on the economy. James unleashed both barrels:

… he eschews the collegiate discipline of party policy development in favour of going out on a limb and trusting his own judgment to carry him through. There seems to be almost no strategic thinking behind how he presents his shifts in position whatsoever. He hasn’t been articulating a party position; he’s been engaging in punditry. The latter may make you incredibly popular with John Humphries and Jeremy Paxman, it may even acquire you rock-star status, but it isn’t the job the party requires him to do.

Then yesterday saw the debut of another Lib Dem blogger, Charlotte Gore, again over at Comment Is Free. As Charlotte’s fans would expect she delivered a clarion call for the party to emphasise the liberal (did someone say libertarian?) part of its intellectual heritage:

While libertarians, classical liberals and free thinkers were all in the bars and fringes of Bournemouth complaining about policy, the nanny state Liberal Democrats were all in the conference hall pouring reinforced concrete on our reputation as yet another mildly authoritarian social democratic party, just like the other two.

She concludes with this memo-to-self-and-others:

… Liberal Democrat policy is made by the members, and we should look at this as an opportunity not an obstacle. We wasted our chance this year – we shouldn’t make the same mistake again.

Watch out for Liverpool 2010.

And finally, in case you’ve not had your commentary fill, here are links to some of today’s other political punditry concerning the Lib Dems penned by non-Lib Dems:

Lib Dems are stuck with a shambles (Tom Clark, Guardian)

Mr Nasty put away, for now (Michael White, Guardian)

Nick Clegg comes of age (Martin Kettle, Guardian)

What Nick Clegg said in his speech today – and what he was really thinking (John Crace, Guardian)

Familiar look to leader’s new dawn (Simon Hoggart, Guardian)

After stumbling on a ‘tax and spend’ landmine, he aimed his fire at the Tories (Steve Richard, Independent)

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One Comment

  • Simon Titley 24th Sep '09 - 9:38pm

    So Charlotte Gore thinks the “libertarians, classical liberals and free thinkers were all in the bars and fringes of Bournemouth complaining about policy”, does she? I can’t say I noticed them.

    She creates the impression of an army of disgruntled libertarians, when in fact this ‘force’ consists of nothing more than a couple of dozen noisy bloggers and trolls – Billy No Mates for the most part – who mostly indulge in fantasy politics from the isolation of their bedrooms.

    This supposed wing of the party doesn’t exist beyond the imaginations of a handful of fanatics. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.

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