What the media say about the York Conference, part 2

The Observer carries two major stories about the conference today.  They comment on the key messages in Nick Clegg’s Q&A yesterday afternoon under the headline: Lib Dem conference: stuck in the middle – but with whom?:

It is really quite difficult being a Lib Dem these days. In pre-government times, when they were merely the protest party, they could say almost anything that would get them votes. Now, after several years of enjoying power and wanting more, it is all about positioning between two polar opposites while trying at the same time not to lose the party’s own identity.

But in an article headed Northern Lib Dems rebel over cuts the Observer reports that a group of eight Northern Lib Dem MPs, including Tim Farron,  have handed Nick Clegg a document titled ‘Grim up North?’

John Pugh, MP for Southport and a ringleader of the rebellion threatening to overshadow the conference, told the Observer: “There are disproportionately few northern voices in the corridors of power. We are not a bunch of whinging northerners asking for a handout, but a region demanding the financial and political powers to shape the nation’s economy in a more balanced and sustainable way.”

The BBC, who have not reported much from the conference, covers Danny Alexander’s speech to conference yesterday, with a video clip: Lib Dems push for income tax cuts in future coalition talks. The Standard also covered his speech: Liberal Democrats were key to economic recovery, says Danny Alexander, and reported the Labour response:

Shadow chief secretary Chris Leslie said: “Danny Alexander can make all the manifesto promises he likes but nobody will believe a word the Lib Dems say.

“A personal allowance of £12,500 would cost billions of pounds year. The Lib Dems should come clean about how they would pay for it. Will they just hit families and pensioners by raising VAT again?”

 

Sky News also picks up on Danny Alexander’s speech and Nick Clegg’s comments: Lib Dem Conference Hears Familiar Mantras. They say:

On Europe, Lib Dem strategists well know that Sir Humphrey would describe as “brave” their desire to take on the mantle of “the party of in”.

It is a slogan which goes against the grain of the anti-Brussels discourse which is likely to dominate much of the run-up to the European elections.

However, it has the merit of being clear and heartfelt.

The Telegraph takes the opportunity to assess Labour’s chances in 2015,  As Tories stumble, Labour is quietly preparing for office, but throws in these reflections on Nick Clegg’s speech this afternoon:

The principal Lib Dem attack on Labour … is an unusual one: namely, that Ed Miliband’s party is “silent”. The Shadow Cabinet would noisily dispute that claim, of course, citing the speeches, policy announcements, Today interviews, cabaret performances, supermarket openings, tombola afternoons, visits to retirement homes and game-show appearances that have kept them clamorously busy. But there is something to the charge of “silence”, too.

Finally, the Independent picks up a different issue by focusing on a speech by Norman Baker at a fringe: Police must speed up rape reports, says Home Office.

In a meeting at the Liberal Democrat spring conference in York yesterday, crime prevention minister Norman Baker revealed that he had written to the 43 constabularies asking them to ensure that officers do not wait 72 hours to register rapes.

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2 Comments

  • all about positioning between two polar opposites

    Presumably they refer to the Greens and UKIP, because given the number of coalition initiatives Labour say they will retain, and the number either promoted by all parties in the run up to 2010 or inherited from Labour after the election, no serious newspaper could possibly suggest that Labour and Conservative are “polar opposites” surely?

  • Nick Tregoning 10th Mar '14 - 8:34am

    Shadow chief secretary Chris Leslie said: “Danny Alexander can make all the manifesto promises he likes but nobody will believe a word the Lib Dems say.
    “A personal allowance of £12,500 would cost billions of pounds year. The Lib Dems should come clean about how they would pay for it. Will they just hit families and pensioners by raising VAT again?”

    Outstanding! Who writes his material? First, Chris, you were going to put up VAT too – ask Alistair Darling. Second, how are you going to pay for all your promises? Surely not ‘bankers’ bonus tax’ again? You’ve trotted that one around the paddock a few times – must be about ready for another outing. Or the 50p tax rate that you had 13 years to introduce, but could only manange in your last month in office? You could always try paying pensioners a 75p a week pension increase, or abolishinf income tax help for the lowest paid, I suppose. Oh, wait – you tried those when you were last in office…

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