#ldconf gets under way: Rally live blog

Rally entertainment Spring Conference Liverpool March 2015 Photo by Liberal Democrats
I’m sitting in the auditorium between Paul Walter who is taking photos which by the magic of technology will illustrate this post later, and Deborah from Derbyshire, who’s at her first Conference. She’s been saying what a wonderful atmosphere it is here. In front of us Nick Clegg, Jo Swinson and Paddy Ashdown are watching the singers who are entertaining us with bright and uplifting songs. It’s a little bit of West End musical magic to make us smile.

We’ve already had a video where some of the fantastic Team 2015 volunteers who staff the LDHQ phone banks tell us about themselves. Including some guy called Nick who said he was the Deputy something or other.

Mustang Sal

And now we have Sal Brinton making her first platform speech in her new role. She enters the hall on her wheelchair to the strains of Ride, Sally, Ride. She managed to get from Mustang Sally to Ian Fleming to modern politics in her opening paragraph.

She talks about how we’ve helped 26 million low earners through a brutal session. She says it’s been tough but we can be proud of what we have achieved.

What a time to take over as President from the wonderful Tim Farron, she says. Coming out on the campaign trail around the country and working with Team 2015 has been fantastic, she adds.

Team 2015 are pour supporters who want to help because they believe in what we stand for – their energetic enthusiasm is infectious.

She challenges everyone to make 10 calls with Team 2015 in the exhibition hall.

Sal pays tribute to Philip Vince, who joined the Liberals in 1949 and who died recently. You might like to read Ed Fordham’s obituary here.

Kirsty Williams

Now Kirsty Williams comes on to “She’s a Lady.” She’s actually reminding me of Eve Myles tonight. She opens by saying she intends to be a winner in Wales this year.  Nice line: Remember the days it was only leaflstes we could deliver. Not any more.

Liberal Democrats have been the shining light in this coalition and we have made Britain fairer.

She goes on to talk about the abysmal record of the NHS in Wales after 15 years of Labour rule. An inconvenient truth that Ed Miliband can’t be allowed to forget.

The Tories are the same old nasty party they always were – playing politics with Welsh people. Contrast with Nick Clegg who won’t cast neighbour against neighbour.

We want opportunity for everyone no matter who they are or where they come from across our United Kingdom – and highlights those with mental will health “who have been ignored and marginalised for too long.”

People don’t need the SNP grasping the levers of a country they are pledged to destroying, she added.

Paddy Ashdown

And now a change of tempo. Paddy who gets Holding out for a Hero as his theme. Paddy points out his “10 calls” badge. He says he’ll be coming around to check if we have them and if not, he’ll subject us to cruel and unusual punishment. Well. All in the name of motivation, I suppose.

Now we have some live links to campaigners round the country staring with Vikki Slade in Dorset. The sound isn’t working, though. She had her first campaign hustings last night. In the background there are loads of blue envelopes being written. Vikki says retiring MP has been brilliant – out on the campaign trail with her most days.

Now over to Jane Dodds in Montgomery – she and Kirsty have a quick chat in Welsh. She talks about campaigning at the largest sheep market in Europe which is in the constituency.

And now Lisa Smart in Hazel Grove. She says the Tories are fighting hard, sending out weekly directly mail. In return, her team is knocking on more doors than ever before. She says that her team is talking to people about the Liberal Democrat record locally and nationally.

And now the excellent Christine Jardine in Scotland in the wee office in Inverurie. She says sightings of Alex Salmond are rarer than the Loch Ness monster at the moment. She talks about 3 decades of service from Malcolm Bruce and how she’ll continue his legacy. She says that there’s a real buzz around Gordon and she wants people to see that we are working hard on the issues that matter. Nobody wants Gordon to become just another platform for Alex Salmond and the SNP. She says that he is the biggest recruiting sergeant for her campaign.

Christine is just full of brightness and enthusiasm – watching her on screen makes you just want to get up there. Scots will be  on Gordon’s doorstep next weekend.

And now on to Paddy who starts by quoting T S Eliot: April its he cruellest month. For many it’s about thoughts of love (lucky buggers, he says), easter eggs and spring time. For us it’s door knocking. He says that if you aren’t in a target seat “You’d better get thee arse down there and help”. He does that in full West country accent with a stuffed parrot on his shoulder.

“We were all pulled into this party, this family, for different reasons, but we are drawn together by a common thread of liberalism.” He cites wanting to see an informed citizenship free from a patronising state, some against apartheid, some pro EU, some against Iraq war.

This time we are not just fighting for a dream, but fighting for a record.

Paddy says that our changes to tax have been a bigger shift of the tax burden away from the poor towards the rich than Labour have ever achieved.

The way he shapes his hands into a claw when he tells us how we’ve strangled the snooper’s charter is actually quite scary. I really had better do these calls for Team 2015.

He says that we have the chance, once the deficit is dealt with, to seriously get on with building our liberal dream. We are committed to mending the economy without breaking our society. Labour want to spend to omcuh, the Tories want to abandon fairness and slash and burn services on the backs of the poor. Tories risk social cohesion, Labour risks economic recovery.

This is a survival election, says Paddy, not just to retain a powerful liberal democrat force in parliament – but for Britain’s politics. The decent, tolerant liberal Britain which is the bedrock of our civilised society is under threat as never before. If we need a reason to go out and fight – that is it.

He says we will not bend one millimetre to UKIP. We will stand proudly as the uncompromising polar opposite of everything UKIP stands for.

Get out there and give them hell, he concludes.

And, with a rousing, dancing, clapping Don’t Stop Believing, that’s it. Now off for dinner.





* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Conference and News.


  • ‘Paddy says that our changes to tax have been a bigger shift of power away from the poor towards the rich than Labour have ever achieved.’ ????????

  • Conor McGovern 13th Mar '15 - 9:09pm

    Freudian slip? 😉

  • Kevin, I believe he means the shift in burden of taxation. Don’t really see what the fuss is about.

  • David Blake 13th Mar '15 - 9:56pm

    Is there any live coverage on TV?

  • Stephen Donnelly 13th Mar '15 - 11:08pm

    Every time. I decide not to attend. Then read about the fringe meetings and wish I was there. The main conference seems as missable as ever.

  • Anthony Vaughan 14th Mar '15 - 7:12am

    Reading this makes me want to be at conference. I think I need to commit to the autumn conference.

  • Are the singers pictured in Paul’s excellent photograph really singing the old Paul Simon hit ?

    ‘Fifty ways to lose your leader’

    The problem is all inside your head she said to me
    The answer is easy if you take it logically
    I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
    There must be fifty ways to lose your leader

    She said it’s really not my habit to intrude
    Furthermore, I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued
    But I’ll repeat myself at the risk of being crude
    There must be fifty ways to lose your leader
    Fifty ways to lose your leader

    You just slip him out the back, Jack
    Make a new plan, Stan
    You don’t need to be coy, Roy
    Just get yourself free
    Put him on the bus, Gus
    You don’t need to discuss much
    Just drop off the key, Lee
    Set Chevening free

    She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain
    I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again
    I said I appreciate that and would you please explain
    About the fifty ways

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 14th Mar '15 - 7:26pm

    Yes, Kevin – changed that. Thanks for pointing it out.

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