What are your favourite Lib Dem conference moments ever?

Over at the Financial Times, Alex Barker has an entertaining compilation of the highs and lows, serious and tragic, of Lib Dem conferences down the years. My favourite two:

7. The White Witch denounces bad vibes around Simon Hughes

This incident is still used to train budding Lib Dem conference chairs. At the end of a particularly long and tedious debate on commerce policy, the chair relucantly gave way to a point of order. “I am a witch,” the lady told the stunned conference hall. She went on to explain she had detected “evil spirits particularly concentrated on Simon Hughes”. Ever since, all conference chairs have been given a mute button.


10. The second Taiwan Straights Crisis of 1958

Sir Alan Comyns Carr was a conference chair with a disconcerting habit of keeping his notes between his mouth and his microphone. But his address in 1958, during an international security crisis over two obscure islands in the Taiwan straights, is fondly remembered to this day. “Fellow Liberals,” he declared. “The eyes of the world are on us — I do not want to say anything which might exacerbate the situation in Quemoy and Matsu.”

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  • Mine is there already – the 1994 conference in Brighton when Paddy stormed off the stage after the vote on cannabis, and was caught live on BBC2 after they decided to extend the coverage so that the vote would be shown live. It’s the only full Federal conference I’ve ever been able to attend, and I think in general it was a pretty wierd one – we also had the vote on the monarchy then too.

    I also remember an LDYS fringe meeting where Paddy was speaking, and he was heckled from the group by someone who had been out for a walk and seen the number of homeless people under Brighton Pier, and wanted to know what he’d do about it. Paddy’s response was “The difficult questions are supposed to come from your opponents, not your wife!”

  • David Langshaw 21st Sep '10 - 8:25pm

    Not exactly “favourite”, as generally understood, but what about….
    1. The nutter getting on stage at the end of David Steel’s Speech in Margate (1977 or ’78)?
    2. David Penhaligon in the hotel foyer in Eastbourne (1982?) somewhere between tears of despair and blazing anger afer the Nuclear Weapons debate went against the leadership?
    3. David Marquand, speaking at the Fringe in Blackpool in 1981 about “Realignment of the Left”. (Anyone remember that as a concept?)

  • Stephen Donnelly 21st Sep '10 - 9:16pm

    Richard Holmes was reported as saying to David Steel, in one of the nuclear weapons debates, : “My god they are listening to the debate”, and we were. I attended conference yesterday for the first time since the Blackpool conference that approved the merger with the SDP. People still listen to the debates.

  • “speaking at the fringe in Blackpool in 1981”

    That was one hell of a fringe, bearing in mind that the Assembly was held in Llandudno!

    (Blackpool was 1980)

    I should know. They were the only Assemblies/ Conferences I attended!

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