Tag Archives: bournemouth 2009 conference

LDV readers say: Yes to Vince’s ‘Mansion Tax’

Was it only a month ago we were in the throes of the Lib Dem conference? How time flies. Cast your minds back four weeks, and the Lib Dems’ shadow chancellor, Vince Cable, made a few waves by announcing his wish to introduce a new tax, quickly dubbed the ‘Mansion Tax’, of 0.5% on the value of properties over £1m.

In fact, as LDV’s Alex Foster spotted at the time, Vince was re-treading a policy he’d been forced to abandon just 18 months previously. But, then, a lot has changed in the last 18 months, both economically, and in terms of Vince’s popularity. The surprise announcement caused Vince more than a few headaches, with shadow cabinet colleagues complaining of being kept in the dark.

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Opinion: Après les conférences

I doubt if the conference season has changed the political landscape. The Liberal Democrats were ill-disciplined; Labour was defiant in face of expectations of defeat; and the Conservatives were trying not to be overconfident — with only partial success.

Peter Riddell, The Times, 9 October 2009

It is easier to write from a position of ignorance rather than knowledge. Unlike Riddell this was the first time I have been to a party conference but that may leave the view clearer. The general opinion is that Lib Dems and Tories missed a chance and Labour avoided disaster by ignoring reality.

The Liberal Democrat and Conservative leadership made the same strategic judgment to tackle head-on the problems raised by the blooming budget deficit and both offered at least some practical indications of where the pain might be felt.

Why was the Liberal Democrat conference perceived to be worse? Partly, because the Lib Dems do not have the same practical need to face up to the budget crisis, but was it “ill-discipline”?

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | 6 Comments

LDV post-conference members’ survey (3): what you thought of the Lib Dem conference

Over the last week, Lib Dem Voice has invited the members of our private forum (open to all Lib Dem members) inviting them to take part in a survey, conducted via Liberty Research, asking a number of questions about the party and the current state of British politics. Many thanks to the 200+ of you who completed it; we’ve been publishing the results on LDV over the past few days. You can catch up on the results of all our exclusive LDV members’ surveys by clicking here.

First up, we asked how many of you had actually …

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LDV post-conference members’ survey (2): ‘savage’ cuts, tuition fees, ‘mansion tax’ and the leadership

Over the weekend, Lib Dem Voice invited the members of our private forum (open to all Lib Dem members) inviting them to take part in a survey, conducted via Liberty Research, asking a number of questions about the party and the current state of British politics. Many thanks to the 200+ of you who completed it; we’re publishing the results on LDV over the next few days. You can catch up on the results of all our exclusive LDV members’ surveys by clicking here.

First up, LDV asked: In a media interview before the party conference, Nick Clegg spoke of the need for the Lib Dems to be “quite bold, or even savage, on current spending”. Do you agree with Nick’s assessment?

Here’s what you told us:

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , , , , , and | 2 Comments

LDV post-conference members’ survey (1): Nick Clegg approval ratings

Over the weekend, Lib Dem Voice invited the members of our private forum (open to all Lib Dem members) inviting them to take part in a survey, conducted via Liberty Research, asking a number of questions about the party and the current state of British politics. Many thanks to the 200+ of you who completed it; we’re publishing the results on LDV over the next few days. You can catch up on the results of our exclusive LDV members’ surveys by clicking here.

First up, LDV asked: What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader?

Here’s what you told us (with September’s pre-conference figures in brackets):

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

Bournemouth was a hit, no shambolic disaster

“What’s the name of your leader?” a constituent asked me the day after the Lib Dem conference closed. Luckily, it was a question I could answer with some confidence.  “Nick Clegg”.  “Oh yes, that’s right.  Saw him on the news last night.  Good speech.”

That seemed  a perfectly reasonable, and probably typical, comment from someone with no particular interest in politics who’ll still most likely be casting their vote in the General Election; not to mention the sort of person every political party is looking to engage with.

So how does that fit with William Le Breton’s claim that Bournemouth was

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 30 Comments

LDV readers split on Nick’s talk of need for “savage” cuts

A week ago, Lib Dem Voice asked our readers the question on everyone’s lips at conference: Do you think Nick Clegg was right to say that the Lib Dems need to be “quite bold, or even savage, on current spending”?

I was clear on my view:

I cannot see how the talk of “savage” cuts is helpful – quite simply, it’s not the language of Lib Dems. Just as importantly, it’s not backed up by policy proposals. Even Vince Cable has so far come up with some £14 billion of potential savings, while estimating that a total of £112 billion will

Posted in Conference and Voice polls | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

#ldconf feedback questionnaire

A message arrives from the Conference people asking for our feedback on all matters Conference.

Conference is important to the Liberal Democrats. Your input, debates and votes are vital in shaping the Party’s policies and campaigns, and ensuring that we remain the only truly democratic party in British politics.

So we want to make sure you come back! Your views are important to us, as they help us improve conference year after year. If you attended autumn conference this year, please take the time to give us your feedback. By clicking on the link below and filling out our online questionnaire, you’ll

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Opinion: The disaster of Bournemouth was avoidable

This was always going to be a disastrous conference. We have spent our annual opportunity to reach out to people by communicating a confused image. When the country needed hope, vision and leadership we offered it the ‘straight talk of progressive austerity’.

This disaster was foreseeable.

It was made from a dangerous mixture of a wrong political strategy (based on a wrong economic strategy) added to a leadership and a communications team which had very, very little political experience.

Ming Campbell and Vince Cable when they came to conference as leaders had to be stabilisers with a reassuring …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | 26 Comments

[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:

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YouTube ‘cos we want to: bumper conference catch-up special edition

Welcome to this very special bumper conference edition of our occasional LDV feature, YouTube ‘cos we want to, featuring some of the most memorable moments from the past week. For those Lib Dems who’ve been isolated inside the ‘Bournemouth bubble’, missing out on all the media coverage I hope this selection of clips gives you a sense of what you missed while you were, erm, there.

From Nick’s leader’s speech to Vince’s dust-up with Paxman on Newsnight, Chris Davies’s rant to the Huhne ‘n’ Pickles show on Radio 4 – it’s all collected here for your viewing/listening pleasure. Enjoy …

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The Lib Dems: ahead of the curve or missing the moment? #ldconf

The editorials of two newspapers today sum up the alternative ways in which this past week’s Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth has been regarded – both internally by party activists and externally by the media. (Who knows what those members of the non-politically obsessed public thought, if anything, of the whole thing?)

The Times is pretty scathing of the party’s week in its leader column, Missing the Liberal Moment:

This week has been an opportunity lost for the Liberal Democrats. As the week unfolded, the excitement dissipated. With an election on the near horizon, with the Labour Government’s lease on power coming to an end and the Tories not yet commanding enthusiasm, this week has been an object lesson in how not to seize the day. …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

#ldconf podcast: Beyond Twitter

Below, you will find our final fringe event at conference, Beyond Twitter. MP Jo Swinson joined LDV regular Mark Pack and MySociety’s Richard Pope to debate the future of public online engagement with politics.

We still have one more fringe event in the cans ready for sound processing, but I won’t be able to bring that to you just yet.

Play
Posted in Conference and Podcasts | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

#ldconf podcast: IPPR fringe

We were taping ippr‘s fringe with our own Editor at Large Stephen Tall along with some relative political unknowns – Shirley Williams, Menzies Campbell and Charles Clarke.

The ippr did say they were recording the event themselves, and their recording is probably better than ours, but I can’t immediately find it on their website.

Play
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Nick Clegg’s conference speech, the live-blog #ldconf

Update: the full text of Nick’s speech is available on the party’s website here.

There’s a lot of expectation heaped on Nick Clegg’s shoulders ahead of his speech to the Lib Dem autumn conference in Bournemouth this afternoon. The media coverage has been less-than-glowing, fuelled by murmurs of discontent among party activists following Nick’s talk of the need for “savage” cuts, the row over the de-prioritising of the abolition of tuition fees, and Vince’s surprise announcment of a ‘mansion tax’.

So Nick will be looking to unite the conference hall this afternoon with a passionate statement explaining why the Lib Dems deserve the votes of the British public at the next election. Nick is, of course, an accomplished – seemingly nerve-less – public speaker, always at ease on the conference podium, and I don’t expect this afternoon to be any different. I’ll be live-blogging the speech as it proceeds, as well as keeping an eye on any Twitter reactions at libdemvoice.org/tweets. Join me at 3pm …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Behind the Fringe: Richard Dawkins at the Lib Dem conference #ldconf

For some fringe events at this year’s conference I have been OK to pitch up with a couple of minutes to spare and still expect to get a seat. However for the ‘Reason under threat – the war on irrationality’ event with Richard ‘God Delusion’ Dawkins, I wisely plumped for getting there about 20 minutes early. Even then I ended up fairly near the back!

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Your LDV #ldconf reader (reading the papers so you don’t have to)

Coverage-a-plenty in today’s press – but not all of it will bring a smile to the face …

Conference row between Nick/Vince and MPs/activists

Vince Cable faces tax policy mutiny at Lib Dem Conference (Times)
Huhne backs Cable after attack (BBC)
MPs’ anger at Cable ‘mansion tax’ (BBC)
Lib Dems round on Nick Clegg and Vince Cable over ‘codswallop’ policy (Times)
Delegates lash out at leader over policy shifts (Independent)
Clegg faces frontbench dissent on cuts (Independent)
Clegg under fire from Lib Dems over move to downgrade spending commitments (Guardian)
Clegg faces mutinous party (Financial Times)
Ming Campbell rebukes Evan Harris

Posted in Conference | 2 Comments

Leadership v. Activists – a personal reflection on Bournemouth ’09 #ldconf

I’m not, by any means, a party conference veteran – Bournemouth ’09 was in fact only my fourth. But it has been distinctive for one thing in particular: it’s been the first year when the media coverage of conference has genuinely reflected what folk (at least those I’ve met) have been talking about at conference.

In previous years, we have been continually told that Lib Dem delegates were chattering about the fate of our leaders – when actually we were quite contentedly chewing the fat of meaty policy issues. This year, there has, as ever at a Lib Dem conference, been plenty of meaty policy debate, but there’s also been more than a little discussion, and not a little grumbling, about the style of the party leadership, both Nick and Vince. And it seems to me – as I blogged here yesterday – that these grumblings are fair.

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#ldconf podcast: Lobby vox pops

A number of those present at the conference are not here because they are party members, but because they want to influence those of us who are. When I was wandering around the conference hall finding people to talk to, two of them met that category.

The podcast below hears from Brian Berry, from the Federation of Master Builders; and Guy Aitchison, representing Power 2010.

Play
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Federal Executive report and constitutional amendments live blog #ldconf

Ryan’s been warned to get extra bandwidth in, and here we go with the must-see session of conference: FE report, constitutional amendments and a special bonus of election regulation amendments too.
(Most recent additions added to bottom of this post.)
It’s 5:30pm, and The Voice’s reporting team is ready to go. But inexplicably, Conference is still spending time discussing the economy. Don’t they know we’ve got constitutional amendments to discuss?
Economy done with, the crowds flood out, the constitutional pedants roll up their sleeves.
Ros Scott (Party President) moves the FE (Federal Executive) report. She explains the FE’s work, including updates from the party leader and on general election preparations at each meeting. Woo! Woo! Lib Dem Voice gets a mention too – as she explains her use of the site to regularly communicate with the party’s membership about the FE’s work.
Question 1 on progress in implementing the Bones report: Ros Scott gives details, including the creation of the Chief Officers’ Group. The Bones recommendations were split into two parts – those to address before the general election and those after. Hence only some of them have been implemented so far.
Follow up question from Gareth Epps: asks who is in charge of the manifesto given the creation of the Chief Officers’ Group. Ross Scott replies saying the party’s structure is very complicated and the FE has enough on its plate with duplicating the work of other bodies. The manifesto is looked after by the manifesto group chaired by Danny Alexander.
Question 2 on the Chief Officers’ Group: Ros Scott says the omission of details from the FE report to conference was an oversight, and there will be future consideration of how the group should best report to conference.
Question 3 on the number of bodies with responsibility for election campaigns and strategy: Ros Scott agrees there are many. There is a pattern here of her suggesting the party’s structures are too complicated.
Full answers to all questions will be printed in Conference Daily.
Conference votes to accept the FE report.
James Gurling moves constitutional amendment to raise the nomination requirements for Presidential elections in order to require candidates to have a show of support from people from different local parties. Andrew Hudson opposes – arguing there is no reason to change – and then David Williams supports – arguing that given the seriousness of the post, there should be a reasonable minimum. The amendment requires a two-thirds majority and (drama!) just gets it after a second show of hands.
David Williams moves a trio of election regulation changes for federal committees, the party leader and the party president – over arrangements for hustings, electronic availability of manifestos and permitting electronic voting. Says many members have requested electronic voting and it is greener and cheaper. He emphasises the word “may” – i.e. the change would allow electronic voting to happen rather than requiring it to.
Ian Eiloart opposes electronic voting. He doesn’t believe online voting can be sufficiently secure for such high-profile elections as for party leader. Experience of Twitter, Estonia and others shows you can’t rely on systems not being hacked.
James Gurling summates on the regulations. Says the FE has discussed the pros and cons of online voting and isn’t intending to rush in to any new system. Points out that Labour already uses electronic voting and would be a higher profile target. Says regulations would not make electronic voting compulsory.
All three election regulations are carried.

Ryan’s been warned to get extra bandwidth in, and here we go with the must-see session of conference: FE report, constitutional amendments and a special bonus of election regulation amendments too.

(Most recent additions added to bottom of this post.)

It’s 5:30pm, and The Voice’s reporting team is ready to go. But inexplicably, Conference is still spending time discussing the economy. Don’t they know we’ve got constitutional amendments to discuss?

Posted in Conference | Also tagged | 12 Comments

#ldconf podcast: Voxpops (including @katygordon)

We asked delegates if their constituency was ready for the General election; if Nick Clegg was right on tuition fees; how a mansion tax would go down in their area; and how they were campaigning online.

Answering our questions were Tom Holvey and Chris Wiggin, from York, Katy Gordon for Glasgow North, Alan Bullion from Tunbridge Wells / Sevenoaks and Brendan D’Cruz from St Albans.

Play
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So, what do we make of #ldconf so far, then?

I’ve just come from speaking at the ippr fringe event, The end of politics as we know it?, alongside Ming Campbell, Shirley Williams and Charles Clarke.

In my introductory remarks, I looked at the two big crises of the last 12 months – the economic crisis of recession, and the political crisis of MPs’ expenses scandals – and their impact on the Lib Dems, with special reference to this week’s conference. I approached the topic as (I hope) a constructively critical friend; harsh but fair was the reaction I was (I guess) looking for. Here’s more or less what I said – see if you think I got the balance right …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 6 Comments

ippr fringe event: The end of politics as we know it? #ldconf

Over the last few days I’ve been uploading the results from Lib Dem Voice’s members’ survey, completed by c.250 party members – you can catch up on the results published to date by clicking here.

The survey was conducted in association with the Institute of Public Policy Research (ippr) in advance of today’s lunchtime fringe, The end of politics as we know it?. Full details here:

Liberal Democrats Conference: The end of politics as we know it?
22 September 2009 –

13.00-14.00
Dorchester One room, Marriott Highcliff Hotel

Posted in Conference and LDV Members poll | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Conference round-up: the last 24 hours

Here are the three main lines promoted by the party from conference to the media in the last 24 hours:

  • Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference unveils plans to increase the pay of Britain’s lowest-earning troops by £6,000, improve the condition of forces’ housing, and ensure proper medical provision for all personnel. The proposals, which would mean that no service personnel in the Army, Navy or RAF would receive less basic annual pay than a new-entrant police constable or development-level firefighter, would be funded within the MoD’s existing budget.
  • Liberal Democrat Conference has demanded an independent, public inquiry into allegations of British Government complicity in

Posted in Conference and News | Also tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Opinion: It’s about everything but freedom

Bournemouth 2009’s big dust-up hurtles towards us on Tuesday morning – the debate on A Fresh Start For Britain: Choosing a Different, Better Future. And, as is ever the case when a paper taking the whole of our policy and priorities in the round comes up for debate, rather than taking in the big picture, everyone’s focused on just one relatively tiny issue that barely appears in it: last year, tax cuts; this year, tuition fees.

Just to confuse matters, when people address A Fresh Start For Britain, there are actually three separate publications they might mean – the motion printed in the Conference Agenda, the pdf / website which was launched in July with the key commitments, and the, er, other bits stuffed in at the back of the policy paper which no-one outside of the Conference hall will ever see. The most important bit is the version published on the website, because that’s the bit that’s the actual cast-iron policy for the General Election Manifesto: everything from page 10 onwards in the full paper comes with the caveat that it may be dumped in the run-up to the General Election (and so, implicitly, why bother?). This positions the Liberal Democrats as making the tough choices up front about public spending that the other parties are petrified of admitting out loud. The reason why people are furious about tuition fees is, of course, because that’s in the back end, and it’s the bit of the back end that Nick’s been drawing attention to in interviews, to prove we’re serious about tackling the economic black hole by saying we can’t afford something we really like as well as cutting back Labour projects we never liked in the first place. But there’s a lot of other stuff there that you should argue about cutting or not, too.

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#ldconf podcast: The BOTY recording

Whilst the LDV team is out tonight enjoying, in our various abstemious ways, the Liberal Drinks event at Bournemouth’s Goat and Tricycle tonight, we thought we’d bring you the tape of last night’s BOTY ceremony.

Sadly the audio version can not to justice to the range of visual feasts the evening provided. Stephen’s milliner will be most disappointed; the ice sculptors know their art is fleeting; and we have really only just rounded up all the flamingoes.

jgraham

But it was a striking evening for a number of reasons, as we hope the …

Play
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#ldconf podcast: Vince’s speech

There are now many ways of getting your brain around Vince Cable’s keynote speech. Read it on the party website. Hear our podcast below. See what ePolitix thinks – or the Guardian, for that matter.

vince-speech

There was much that was really important that jumped out at me from the speech – here are my favourite bits:

We should not be taken in by the hysterical nonsense about the country being bankrupt. It isn’t.

The Tories are currently getting a free rein to slash budgets. Tories like …

Play
Posted in Conference and Podcasts | Also tagged , , , and | 17 Comments

Federal Finance and Administration Committee report: live blog

The crowds are flooding through the doors. The good news is that they are leaving the hall … because it’s a sure sign of a party’s financial state whether people are coming or going. Bad times: people come in. Good news: people leave.

The vote: motion is overwhelmingly carried.

Pete Dunphy summates on the motion: points out the increase is only a recommended one, and people can pay the same or less if they wish. However, it is important to raise funds for the general and local elections.

Maureen de Beer: also opposes the increase, particularly in a time of recession and given …

Posted in Conference | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Steve Webb over-rules Nick on universal child benefits

Evening Standard blogger Paul Waugh has the story:

Work and Pensions spokesman Steve Webb has indeed put his foot down to kill off Nick Clegg’s suggestion (floated in the Guardian on Saturday) that the party could means-test child benefit.

Webb made plain his feelings at a Fabian fringe event.

Posted in Conference | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

Erm, Ed, “tea with the Taleban” – perhaps it’s time to get a new speech-writer?

Reader, it pains me to write this – especially as it means I’m partially agreeing with Iain Dale – but it needs saying. This is what Ed Davey, our shadow foreign secretary said yesterday in his speech to conference:

… it’s time for tea with the Taleban – and tea with the multitude of local tribal Afghan insurgent leaders.

When I first saw it reported that Ed had called for “tea with the Taleban”, I assumed it was a paraphrase ad absurdum – a bit like David Cameron’s ‘hug a hoodie’, a phrase he never actually uttered. But, no, I’m …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 9 Comments
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