WATCH: Christine, Jo, Vince and others at the Conference rally

The Conference rally was as upbeat and optimistic and positive as you would expect that motivational event at the start of Conference to be. You can watch the whole thing below.

I’d heard earlier that Vince was not going to be making a speech, but he did. He came on and made some very serious comments about terrorism in the wake of the Parsons Green attack, praising the emergency services and condemning Donald Trump’s tweets. He then rather cheekily gave the speech that was more suited to the debate on Europe this morning, talking about the need for a referendum, a “first referendum on the facts” to give people the chance to #exitfromBrexit if they choose.  He was very clear – the Lib Dems are the party of Remain, not the party of a soft exit. No deal will be better than what we currently have.

There was an extended advertisement for ALDC as it approaches its Golden Jubilee. The best things were born in 1967, let me tell you. Veteran Councillor and former Council leader Kath Pinnock, Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson, younger former councillor Victor Chamberlain and newbie Becky Forrest all told how ALDC helped them. I certainly couldn’t contemplate running a campaign without their expertise, so you really should join them.

Having been through the Edinburgh West campaign, it was obviously quite emotional for me to see Christine Jardine up on the stage. The bit that brought the biggest lump to my throat was when she said that she was there for the working class kids like she was who don’t have the support that she had to get on in life. That is her driving force in politics.

It was great to see two people who had joined us from other parties – Azi Ahmad from the Tories and Cllr Andrew Cregan from Labour. They talked about what had brought them to our party and the welcome they had received.

Finally, Deputy Leader Jo Swinson brought proceedings to a close, saying:

Our clarity about protecting our place in Europe, and our unity behind this goal, have helped us reach out and achieve our highest ever membership.

“We achieved a fantastic string of council by-election gains, and an impressive result in Witney, where Liz Leffman slashed the Tory majority in David Cameron’s own backyard.

“And then there was our stunning and oh so sweet by-election victory last December in Richmond Park, where so many people travelled from all over the country to help elect the fabulous Sarah Olney.

“That victory had deeper resonance too, because it showed how people from different party backgrounds could come together to send a message about the kind of politics we want.

“Or more accurately, what we do *not* want.  The kind of dog-whistling, racist, personal attack campaign that Zac Goldsmith endorsed in his mayoral bid against Sadiq Khan is unacceptable and should have no place in our democracy.”

“We Liberal Democrats have an important message about the very character and values of our great family of nations.

“Fighting for Britain to stay modern, green and internationalist, forward-looking, open-minded, and open-hearted.

“As populist forces rise up across the world, Britain should be leading the fight to promote liberal values, not shutting ourselves off from our neighbours.

“Our economic and political systems are broken.  We need to shape a new and inspiring vision for the 2020s and beyond.

“That’s what will beat the rabble-rousing, hate-stoking rhetoric of populists on right and left.

“Britain needs a liberal voice now more than ever.

“We are that liberal voice.”

Enjoy.

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

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