Lib Dem Conference highlights – Caron on the Fringe

So, another group of Lib Dem Conference highlights with a shamelessly self-indulgent look back at the fringe meetings I spoke at.

The Child Poverty Action Group fringe

On Monday I spoke at a fringe meeting run by the excellent Child Poverty Action Group. The work of groups like CPAG is so important in highlighting the impact of poverty and it’s great that they speak up, even when what they have to say is uncomfortable for us as Liberal Democrats to hear.

The theme of the meeting was around achieving social justice. What would that look like?

The botched implementation of Universal Credit was a major aspect. Along with the appalling family cap, it was cutting the incomes of the poorest families by £3000-£5000.

We had passed policy that very morning that tackled several of the concerns that CPAG had – like restoring a second work allowance and restoring the cuts announced by George Osborne the minute we left the Coalition.

Starring in a video with Malala and Jo Swinson

When I stay starring, we will be in there with 129,999,997 others. The One Campaign’s Count Girls In video aims to highlight the 130 million girls denied an education globally. That’s twice the population of this country – a sobering thought.

As Jo Swinson told the meeting, educating girls is like a silver bullet in terms of economic development, sustainable population and individual freedom. There is no bad aspect to it.

I also spoke at that fringe. I get a bit nervous about public speaking because my gob doesn’t have a backspace key. Often I’ll have my notes with me to refer to but it didn’t work in this situation because it was a stand-up reception and I had to hold a microphone. I just had to pretend I was good at this stuff and speak from memory which I think worked. The only thing is, Jo is a zillion times better and more natural and more polished than I am.

I talked about how it had recently been the 45th anniversary of my first day at school and how there had never been any doubt about the fact that I would go to school. That’s not the case for so many girls. I talked about the wider benefits of education – not just about reading and writing but about learning about your place in the world and how you don’t have to put up with being abused by parents or married off without your consent at a ridiculously young age. To that end, the aid projects that the Tories and the tabloids hate so much do a huge amount of good.

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

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