Reaching out and making friends, just like Vince says

Yesterday, Vince Cable told the Liberal Democrats to reach out and appeal to the millions of voters who are alarmed at the extremes of British politics.

A wee while earlier, some Liberal Democrat members had been reaching out in a manner that can only be described as optimistic.

Not the Leader’s speech is an annual tradition that started during the coalition years. A group of the Awkward Squad would gather in a nearby hostelry, watch the speech on Twitter and work out at what point they would have walked out had they been in the hall. There is less cause for walkout these days, but the tradition continues.

Last year, in a shocking twist, the event was crashed by the leader himself. How could we better that?

So, yesterday, the advance guard gathered in a very nice pub. Sarah Brown, Jennie Rigg and Holly Matthies spied a familiar face. Quentin Letts, who vyes with Rod Liddle to be the most objectionable, social reactionary antithesis to anything remotely humane and liberal voice in the British media, was refreshing his bile ducts with ale.

Rather than just mutter in the corner, they decided to reach out, just like Vince has been saying. They went up and politely enquired if he was Quentin Letts and asked if they could have a selfie with him. Not only did he agree, but he willingly accepted one of LGBT+ Lib Dems’ Trans rights are human rights badges.

And here is the proof:

He will not like this, but I hear that he is actually incredibly pleasant in person. It is only the addition of a keyboard and connection to the internet and payment of a salary from the Daily Mail that gives you a rather different impression of him.

So what did Mr Letts make of the encounter? When I heard about this, I was wondering if he would he would trash my dear friends in his report. But, no. The one nice paragraph in his report about Vince’s speech was about this friendly encounter.

Yet Lib Dem activists are a pretty tolerant lot. An hour or so earlier, sinking a crafty pint at the Hop Poles pub just round the corner from the conference hall, I met some charming trans rights campaigners.

They said they did not intend to listen to Sir Vince’s speech. ‘Why should we listen to a politician telling us what to think?’

I have a feeling that we might never get Quentin Letts’ vote, but it’s good to know that for that moment in Brighton, he was willing to show solidarity with a group his paper frequently demonises.

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

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  • Sarah Brown 19th Sep '18 - 9:06am

    Yeah. He seemed kinda sweet and a bit baffled by the modern world. Maybe he’s good at compartmentalisation?

  • He genuinely was rather sweet. He was still wearing his badge when he left the pub, too, waving cheerfully at us.

    (I LOLed at “refreshing his bile ducts with ale” tho)

  • Holly Matthies 19th Sep '18 - 9:39am

    Yeah, he seemed significantly more baffled by the notion of a selfie than of trans rights.

  • Sue Sutherland 19th Sep '18 - 12:04pm


  • Sue Doughty 19th Sep '18 - 2:05pm

    On the other hand I have not found it in my heart to forgive him for describing me in his sketch column as a womble, and not a very good one.

  • John Marriott 19th Sep '18 - 3:05pm

    The guy writes for The Mail. End of story. Like all sketch writers he has to try to be funny. I’ve seen him on TV a few times. When he emerges from behind his typewriter (wow, that dates me – actually, I’ll rephrase that) when he puts his quill pen down and has to cater for a wider audience, Mr Letts has a touch of the Boris about him. He reminds me for some reason of the dormouse in ‘Alice in Wondeland’. What will be do now the Mad Hatter has ‘retired’? Now Rod Liddle or Jezza Clarkson, that’s a different matter, although the latter was a Remainer, I believe.

  • Kathy Erasmus 20th Sep '18 - 9:37am

    What is worse -To write aggressive offensive articles about Liberal Democracy because you believe it or because the The Mail pays you loads of money to do so

  • He looks terrified!

  • Peter Hirst 22nd Sep '18 - 4:05pm

    A variety of badges such as “I’m a Lib Dem supporter” could be made available to hand out to this growing band of official supporters.

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