Monday 18th September 2006

11:13 pm

Back from Brighton

Gravatar Back from a very pleasant time in Brighton. It's always great to meet old and new friends, especially like minded ones altough I have to say that I quite liked Iain Dale when I met him even though he's spending the rest of the week having a go at us but that's the price of a free society and we are all better for it. Would have loved to have been able to go to the taxation debate tomorrow but

10:56 pm

Is it up? Dial this number

Gravatar How much fun can you have with a simple phone number? And a phone, obviously. To find out, dial this number. 020 7533 5866. If you are overseas, remember to drop the first zero and add 44 as the international code. It’s not premium rate, but you might want some privacy before you dial. Send you lady [...]
10:51 pm

The pruning of a Bush?

Gravatar If it was someone from Respect - or even a liberal blogger from the States - writing about the idea of George W Bush being impeached, I'd not take it too seriously. But when a UK Conservative starts writing favourably about the possibility of it happening, I start to get interested... To quote the lady concerned - Martine Martin (no. 50 on Iain Dale's Tory list)- Even though House Minority
10:01 pm

Making politics more diverse

Gravatar Managed to follow second hand some of the conference debate about the numbers of minority ethnic and female candidates and their success or otherwise in getting into parliament. It's a tricky one for us as liberals as we want more women MPs and we want minority ethnic MPs, but we tend not to like quota arrangements and special lists. I did vote at one conference for a limited women-only shortlist experiment, but was on the losing side, after a number of really good speeches by young women. At the moment selection committees can't draw up a shortlist ...
9:53 pm

Blogger of the Year

Gravatar Congratulations to Stephen Tall for winning the inaugural Lib Dem blogger of the year competition. It was well deserved - as the blurb says, Stephen's articles "consistently combine good writing with interesting content and new technology." I believe his webcasts are particularly popular with Italian politics students :o) Apollo is particularly proud to have been close to such august company, especially when it has to suffer contributions from an itinerant dilettante like me.
9:15 pm

Questions for the hard of thinking

Gravatar Prompted by this post by Norman Geras, I was struck by the paucity of of argument presented by the anti-war pacific left, the anti-war pacific liberals and old-fashioned realist conservatives alike. Norm's post attacks this article by Tony Judt in the London Review of Books. Judt bemoans the response of American liberals to current international affairs: Why have American liberals acquiesced in President Bush’s catastrophic foreign policy? Why have they so little to say about Iraq, about Lebanon, or about reports of a planned attack on Iran? Why has the administration’s sustained attack on civil liberties and international law aroused ...
9:10 pm

BBC surpass themselves with the Scissor Sisters

Gravatar Our family had a treat this evening. We were just tuning in (as they used to say) to BBC1, as we sat down for supper. Then Jo Wylie came on to tell us to press our red buttons to see the Scissor Sisters live at Maida Vale studios. We did as commanded by Ms Wylie and within about half a nano-second (or at least very quick for the red button - which can have a very delayed effect sometimes) we were
8:42 pm

I went further and got a bigger plane

Gravatar Not a bad day yesterday, even though I didn’t make it to my final destination - was aiming for Broadway, but started pretty late and didn’t want to leave my brother Andrew (who was picking me up at the end of the day) sit around too much, so ended it at Willersey, which was still [...]
7:24 pm

Day 2085: So what’s this conference all about?

Gravatar Monday: As my prize for being not as good as Mr Councillor Stephen, the Liberal Democrats have allowed me in to their press briefings. The first one was yesterday, and there was another one this morning. Yesterday our hosts were Mr Ed and Larry the Norman Lamb: is it any surprise that a fluffy elephant can get into the Blogger of the Year? Mr Ed told us about the themes that hoped to be developed over the conference: Monday would be about DIVERSITY, Tuesday would be about the TAX ROW POLICY and Wednesday would be about FAIRNESS. The Liberal's ...
7:22 pm

Blogging Conference

Gravatar My post on the New Statesman Conference Blog can be found here. Lembit Opik's contribution is here.
7:20 pm

Conference Blog: Tony Benn

Gravatar Sat in a very small Q & A on electoral reform with Tony Benn. He's as funny and articulate as you'd imagine, but I am learning an awful lot. Tony considers himself a libertarian, and often now finds himself making some very unlikely alliances in the House of Lords with Consertatives. An example of a politician not allowing stigma or party politics get in the way of doing job. He also doesn't believe that one should sacrifice one's principles for power, so no wonder he never got on with Blair. I wonder if he's met Nick ...
7:02 pm

Shami for Mayor?

Gravatar The BBC News conveys the fact that some at Conference are speculating about Shami Chakrabarti as a possible Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London. I actually suspect that Simon Hughes is doing his best to persuade her, and he'd certainly redeem his mediocre term of office in the Presidency if he did. She'd be the perfect tonic to Ken, with his somewhat sloppy record on civil liberties (aggressive pushing of Oyster) and increasingly whacky sense of judgement. A work colleague recently met Shami at an Inn supper and said that she's a lot funnier than you'd ...
6:48 pm

The Great Repeal Act

Gravatar Each year backbench MPs have a ballot and the winners get to propose a new piece of legislation. This has always seemed a bad idea to me. It would be much better if the succesful MPs won the chance to repeal a piece of legislation. Now everyone can have a go: Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats are proposing a Great Repeal Act to sweep away unnecessary laws. "We need a single act to roll back a generation of illiberal legislation and illiberal regulations; a single act to dismantle the apparatus of authoritarianism that has been forced ...
6:44 pm

The IPOD Generation

Gravatar I am a member of the IPOD generation: insecure, pressured, over-taxed and debt-ridden. As the REFORM think-tank reports, I am a member of a generation of under 35s for whom greater wealth than their parents is unlikely. The long-heralded conflict between the Baby-Boomers who have had it easy and younger generations who are having it tough has now begun. Not everyone has wealthy parents who can assist them in purchasing a house, and not everyone can rely on the eventual windfall of inheritance. I will return to this topic, but for now I will leave you think the main conclusions ...
6:43 pm

Conference Blog: Nick Clegg

Gravatar Just watching Nick Clegg speak for the second time today. His speech to conference was nothing short of superb, and now at a smaller fringe event he's done just as well. Along with Chris Huhne and Julia Goldsworthy, Nick represents my great hope for the party. Not only these people smart, eloquent and empathetic, they're presentable, speak with passion and naturally engage with people. Where Cameron has stunts, we have substance, and the sooner these three are running the party the better. ___________________________________________________________ Try the all-new Yahoo! Mail. "The New Version is radically easier to ...
6:42 pm

Voice Podcast: Alex and the exhibitors

Gravatar Alex has been touring the exhibition stands. Alex meets DELGA (LGBT organisation), the Local Government Assocation, the Parliamentary Candidates Association, the Lib Dem Christian Forum, EARS (election software), Alter (Land Taxation and Economic Reform), LDDA (disabilities), and Lib Dem Image (perveyors of all sorts of Lib Dem branded goodies). The exhibition is great this year - more [...]
6:17 pm

Hypocrisy and hyperventilation - Tories on our car tax proposals

Gravatar When I was younger, I used to get very upset at Tories banging on about LibDems taxing people off the road. As I get older and understand our proposals better, I find such Tory hyperventilation most amusing. So, it was with great amusement that I read Iain Dale's "Lib Dem Car Tax Proposals are Environ-MENTAL" and all the outraged comments underneath from crusty old and young Tories. Iain says that a humble family person wanting a 2 litre petrol Mondeo would be crushed with a £1500 tax. He then gets out his high-horse and declaims: This is madness and ...
6:16 pm

Gee it up a bit Ming!

Gravatar One of the advantages (or disadvantages) of not being at all the conference is the ability to hear some of the media coverage at greater length than is normal when attending. I heard the BBC's clip of Ming's green speech yesterday. It was excellent. Slow. Profound. Deliberate. Quiet. When I compare it to clips from Paddy's old speeches it is like comparing chalk and cheese. Paddy used to challenge the audio equipment with the loudness and passion of his voice. Unfortunately, the clip from Ming sounded like he was trying to emulate Iain Duncan-Smith: " Do.................not...................... .underestimate the.........determination.................of ...
6:15 pm

Archbishop's wise words on childhood and inter-faith relations

Gravatar The Archbishop of Canterbury's interview on Today this morning beautifully answered the question: "What is the Archbishop of Canterbury for?" It's not that I was wondering what he was up to. It is just that most of his media appearances to date have been to try and square an impossible circle on a matter which is utterly marginal to real life - (i.e the disproportionate furore over attitudes to gays in the church). So it was a relief to hear the Archbishop talking about something else - two subjects in fact - which actually really matter to day-to-day life: childhood ...
6:05 pm

Apollo Blog interviews Vince Cable.

Gravatar 4.20pm, Grand Hotel, Brighton. AB: The Times this morning pointed out that people don't think our policies add up, and part of the problem is our low credibility on the economy. Can we tackle this? VC: I think this will be a slow and difficlt process. Perceptions take a long time to change. But we are conscious that our policies are under scrutiny and that it will not be sufficent to have a few soundbites and gimmicks to offer the public on the economy. I am optimistic that we can improve on this - partly because of the way Liberal ...
6:00 pm

Liberal Democrats discuss policy on children and families, independent living for the disabled, diversity and equality and rape laws

Gravatar Liberal Democrat Conference officially opened today and had a packed agenda with four main policy motions and presentations from leading Parliamentarians such as Ed Davey and Nick Clegg as well as Question and Answer session with Sir Menzies Campbell.
5:46 pm

Liberals and Social Democrats

Gravatar To someone who was in the old Liberal Party during the Alliance years, there is an irony to tomorrow's debate on Lib Dem taxation policy. Those who style themselves radical Liberals are now the people who defend the post-war Social Democratic settlement with the most passion.
5:37 pm

Stupid website

Gravatar So... I want to go to the conference tomorrow. Being disorganised I didn't book in advance. So what do I do? Try to find details on the libdems website. Can I find any? No. Where is it? Brighton. That's all I can find. It does tell me where to go to register, but not much more. Why not use google maps to show where it is? Infact that's what I did, but by finding the blog post with directions to
5:14 pm

I'm in print

Gravatar Conference-goers who fight their way to the corner of the Hewison Hall and find the LGA Liberal Democrat Group stall will find the following publication: Delivering best practice for you in local governmentBest Practice Guide number 1 The Watford and Cambridge Story by Cllr Ian Nimmo-Smith (Cambridge and Cllr Iain Sharpe (Watford) Of all the publications available at conference this is the one I would most highly recommend to my fellow delegates. And while you can spend small fortunes at the Westminster Bookshop stall or elsewhere, this small booklet is entirely FREE. Hurry, hurry while stocks last! But whatever you ...
4:56 pm

Clegg ups the ante

Gravatar A great speech, a great idea - Nick Clegg stormed the Lib Dem conference today, with his promise of a Great Repeal Act "to roll back a generation of illiberal legislation and illiberal regulations; a single act to dismantle the apparatus of authoritarianism that has been forced on the nation". New Labour has introduced well over 3,000 new criminal offences since it came to office in 1997. The Lib
4:54 pm

Brighton conference - second video diary

Gravatar I've recorded another video diary from the Brighton Lib Democrat conference:
4:53 pm

The ultimate greenwash:

Gravatar "BRITISH arms manufacturer BAE Systems is designing "environmentally friendly" weapons, including "reduced lead" bullets, "reduced smoke" grenades and rockets with fewer toxins, The Sunday Times said. Other initiatives include developing armoured vehicles with lower carbon emissions, safer and more sustainable artillery and even recycling or composting waste explosives, the newspaper
4:39 pm

Media tarting

Gravatar Okay, let's just be clear. This is not about bigging-up myself - it's for the benefit of my mum (who got a bit of a shock when she woke up this morning hearing me on the radio). Last night's Lib Dem Blog of the Year awards are being reported here ( 'Lib Dems award "blog of the year"'), and here (Guardian Online: 'Liberally applied'). And I'm booked for BBC News 24 (7.30 pm-ish) and
4:16 pm

A small delight

Gravatar This is delightful. [Via Volsunga]
4:11 pm

Fisking Jackie Ashley

Gravatar ‘The Lib Dems must be bold or they’ll become irrelevant’ - so says Jackie Ashley in today’s Grauniad. She’s right, of course. She’s also out-of-date. Tempting as it is to ‘fisk’ the whole article, I’m going to shrink from the pleasure. I’ll let today's Grauniad do it instead. Jackie reckons: Current Lib Dem strategy is so hazily general that the party appears to have no direction of travel.
4:06 pm

The Great Repeal Act

Gravatar I am pleased by this effort. I have long thought that something like this should be done. This government has legislative diarrhoea, the solution to every problem is apparently to legislate, and increasingly poor, ill thought out legislation. There is too much legislation, too many laws, too much regulation. It makes us more dependent on the state to guide us through, it wastes time and money. It
4:04 pm

Ming's daily conference vidcast

Gravatar Ming Campbell reflects on the first day of conference and the ‘Green Tax Switch’ rally, and the day ahead, especially the plans for increasing the number of BME, women and disabled candidates:
3:59 pm

Which one is less embarrassing than John Prescott?

Gravatar Southwark Labour Leader Peter John reports that there is potential for a Southwark catfight for Deputy Leader of the Labour party between their two remaining MPs, Tessa Jowell and Harriet Harman. This will be a tough call for Labour members. Harriet is clearly the better constituency MP, or at least she tries to live a bit closer to Camberwell than Tessa does to Dulwich, but then she did get fired for being useless in her first job in 1998 and had to be moved in her second to avoid a conflict of interest with her husband's job of investigating ...
3:41 pm

Davey puts the boot in

Gravatar Some rather good lines from Ed Davey MP for Kingston at conference this week. Glad to see the Party is starting to give as good as we get from the opposition. "We have a Prime Minister who can't control his Generals... and a Deputy Prime Minister who can't control his privates." "David Cameron, such an irredeemable toff that when he gets on his bicycle to go to work, he has his chauffeur take his shoes in the car... We're not saying he doesn't stand for anything... he'll stand for anything you like." "Tony Blair preaches to people, ...
3:04 pm

Berlin via Brighton!!

Gravatar Monday 18th September 2006 - After returning from Geneva to squeeze in some time with the family I am soon on my travels again heading for an ALDE meeting in Berlin via Brighton for the start of the Party Conference. I was pleased to be able to join Party Leader Sir Ming Campbell to announce the launch of a dedicated fund to help fight target seats where we have a candidate from an ethnic
3:00 pm

Voice Podcast: Alex meets the Liberal Democrat Youth and Students

Gravatar Alex: “Are those LDYS condoms?” LDYS: “They weren’t my idea” Alex: “So. Describe those to me” Download Alex and LDYS
2:59 pm

My Pop Bitch posting

Gravatar Which leading political journalist had a hissy fit and flounced out when a steward asked to search his bag at the entrance to the Brighton Centre this morning?
2:51 pm

The Great Firewall of China fails

Gravatar Someone from China has just visited my posting on Lib Dem Blogger of the Year. Surely that is just the sort of thing that the authorities there want to prevent people reading? Quite what they will make of the Millennium Dome the Elephant in Peking is another matter.
2:01 pm

Back on the beach…

Gravatar …this time via wi-fi on a swanky laptop (not mine, alas). To the much-trailed bloggers’ reception last night, which was as enjoyable as promised. The headline story, of course, is that Oxford councillor and Nice Chap Stephen Tll won the Blog of the Year award, and well-deserved it was. Alex Wilcock gave a very good speech [...]
1:57 pm

Nick Clegg's speech

Gravatar Just watching Nick Clegg's speech on BBC Parliament (being rebroadcast during lunch, somebody at the BBC liked it :) ) It is an excellent speech. He's said some of the very things which led me to the LibDems, he's said the very things security experts like Bruce Schneier have been saying - the successes against terrorism have not been due to control orders, detention without trial, mass
1:26 pm

Nick Clegg's conference speech

Gravatar So last night was a veritable blog-fest! And blogging is soooooo flavour of the moment. I went straight out after handing over the award to do Five Live with John Pienaar, who is himself today starting a blog for the first time! Good luck John! This morning, Monday, the big event is my boss - otherwise known as Shadow Home Secretary or Nick Clegg's keynote speech. I have just emerged from his bravura performance where Conference gave him a standing ovation. It was an excellent speech which really went for the shallowness of Labour's rhetoric on crime, their obsession with ...
1:24 pm

Conference Blog: Guardian Debate

Gravatar Just at the Guardian debate listening to Norman Lamb, Simon Hoggart and Julia Goldsworthy. Norman suggests that Iain Dale's dislike of the Lib Debs is his fault, having handed Iain something of a beating in Norfolk last year. Iain was polite enough at the Blogger's event last night, so we'll have to try harder next time... Congrats to Stephen Tall on winning Lib Dem Blogger of the Year (on the old mobile so no links, google him!), and I'm delighted to say you're reading the 23rd best Lib Dem Blog. Julia is speaking now, always worthy ...
1:24 pm

Watching from Afar

Gravatar Well you can tell it is conference session. Normally first thing on a Monday morning there is very little backlog on LibDemBlogs. But clearly all my fellow bloggers have found out how to connect up from Brighton and are busy typing away. In the meantime I have already seen a number of them on the Parliament Channel yesterday and today so I know that they are not all constantly avoiding the conference hall. The thing about watching the conference on television is the fact that you can sneak out to the toilet or to get food and still hear ...
1:20 pm

Talking a new language

Gravatar Liberal Democrats are often accused of talking a different language by our detractors, however we are in danger of confirming that by the badges worn around the Conference Centre by the many thousands of people who are here. The problem is that each badge seeks to define our status and reason for being here by colour and by a mysterious code that very few can crack. It is a DaVinci code for modern politics and if you have acronym blindness as I do you don't stand a chance. Here is a full guide: Party Members - yellow Voting ...
1:10 pm

Blogging from sunny Brighton

Gravatar Lib Dem Party Conference started for me with the launch of the Green Switch campaign - to tax polluters. George Monbiot spoke at the packed rally on how a section of the arctic ice the size of Turkey had disappeared last week, the sort of thing that was being predicted for 2030, now being speeded up because of feedback loops within nature. If contributions to reversing excessive energy use were...
1:02 pm

Sustainable Communities Bill

Gravatar I found out more about this proposed legislation at a Fringe Meeting. The crux is that local people will be able to tell central government what to do about local issues, instead of being at the receiving end of constant edicts from Whitehall. This is designed to counter "Ghost Town Britain" and encourage local business and initiatives. So, for example, the local community would have the power...
12:50 pm

Bloggers well received

Gravatar The Lib Dem blog of the year was announced last night at a reception for Bloggers. Oxford Councillor Stephen Tall evidently has the best Lib Dem blog and this was presented by veteran blogger Lynne Featherstone MP. It's great that the Lib Dems allow and encourage freedom of individual expression that typify blogging, instead of the control freakery of Labour, locally and nationally. Blogging...
12:45 pm

David Cameron, opportunist. Me? I'm stranded outside Euston station with Douglas Murray

Gravatar Douglas Murray has torn apart a recent speech on foreign policy by David Cameron. In the speech Cameron describes himself as a "liberal conservative". It might actually be more accurate to describe him as a "Lib Dem Tory", since on the environment, on tax, and now on foreign policy his movements have tracked the Liberal Democrats. But Murray's demolition job on Cameron is also a damnation of Lib Dem foreign policy and posturing - especially with regard to Afghanistan and Iraq, anti-Americanism and the rotten exploitation of Israel's defensive war in Lebanon. Murray now finds himself in the same ...
12:33 pm

Problem Solved

Gravatar Well done to Connie Fisher for being the winner of the BBC's How do you Solve a Problem Like Maria? to find the leading lady for Lord Andrew Lloyd-Weber and David Ian's production of The Sound of Musicwhich will be opening in the West End on 4 November. All through the series I was impressed by the consistancy that she brought to her weekly performances and surely this was something that other viewers saw in her as well. Shame I'm not at work this week as Connie was a call centre worker and working in the same environment may ...
12:32 pm

The Archbishop of Canterbury follows my lead

Gravatar Last night I spoke at a Liberator fringe meeting based on the recent book Liberalism: Something to Shout About , edited by Graham Watson MEP and Simon Titley. I talked about our general sense that something has gone wrong with modern childhood, though no one can quite say what it is. It is a subject I have written about quite often, without coming to any firm conclusion. Lately I have been coming round to the idea that the problem lies not with our children but with ourselves as adults. We have lost confidence in our ability to deal with ...
12:26 pm

Bingeing on West Wing

Gravatar Massive West Wing watching session this weekend. We weren't able to see the last season at all... but a friend recorded it for us.. and then we kept not meeting up. But at last got the epidodes on Saturday and sat down on Sunday evening for a mammoth session. We got up to the presidential election day. The fact that theres a result, but a few more episodes to watch makes me think that perhaps there is a legal challenge of some sort. But won't be able to watch the rest for a day or ...
12:19 pm

Not quite the Ultimate Answer

Gravatar Blogger wasn't behaving for me on Friday so I apologise for the delay in announcing that this blog made Iain Dale's top 100 Lib Dem Blogs found on this pdf file. As a Douglas Adam's fan I was somewhat upset not to take the coverted 42nd spot that honour going to Chris Black. Instead I find myself one spot above at 41. I just hope that I was not deducted points by constantly referring to Iain's
12:16 pm

What is a hard-working family?

Gravatar There are some phrases which creep into political use, but actually mean nothing. the one that annoys me the most at the moment is "hard-working families". How on earth can a family be "hard-working"? Does it mean two parents out at work and the kids involved in child labour of some sort? Does the family stop being hard working at weekends? And what's the opposite? Bone-idle familes? Parents who are full time carers will tell you they work harder than someone who goes to the office, but its not that visible to the ...
12:06 pm

Charles Kennedy is not our next leader

Gravatar I have an article on the Guardian's Comment is Free site this morning. It pours cold water - in what I hope is not an unkind manner - on the idea of Charles Kennedy returning to lead the Liberal Democrats in the foreseeable future.
12:04 pm

A doner kebab supper

Gravatar At conference one ends up eating badly and irregularly. We emerged from fringe meetings sometime after 10 o'clock, hungry but too tired to find a restaurant and sit down for a proper meal. At times like this, and after a few glasses of wine, the only thing that will do to it is a doner kebab. And luckily enough there is a kebab shop just round the corner from our hotel. There is no defending the doner kebab gastronomically. 'Rat meat' I once heard someone call it. It is impossible to eat with any semblance of dignity. Even if it ...
12:00 pm

Voice Podcast: Alex and some virgins

Gravatar Alex attended the reception for first-time conference attendees, the so-called “conference virgins”. His latest Podcast is a vox-pop-orama. This Podcast just goes to show that Lib Dem members come from all backgrounds, viewpoints (so long as they’re against the 50p amendment in the tax debate). In this post you’ll hear Alex ask the ultimate Lib Dem geek [...]
11:53 am

And the winner is...

Gravatar Stephen Tall is a worthy winner of the Lib Dem blogging competition. Had I had a vote, it would have gone to Liberal England, which to me is the Godfather of Lib Dem blogs. It joins a long line of might have beens - Stirling Moss never winning the Formula One Championship, Colin Montgomerie never winning a Major, Evelyn Waugh not winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Watford losing 2-0 to Everton in the 1984 Cup Final etc. etc.
11:48 am

Make Trident History

Gravatar Yesterday evening the Scottish CND march from Faaslane to the Scottish Parliament stopped off at Bathgate with just two days march to go. They held a public meeting at St. David's Church at which Bruce Kent, Michael Connarty MP and Fiona Hyslop MSP were the guest speakers. I sat in the audience and was acknowledged by both the local politicians and had passing mention in their comments. £250 Billion pounds is earmarked as a replacement for the current Trident nucleur deterent. Strange that the UK government and their US buddies should be saying that Iran, North Korean and others should ...
11:36 am

What is it with 'Liberator'?

Gravatar My first stop at conference is normally at the liberator stall. Liberator is is magazine of the radical liberal activists and, as you might expect is run by an editorial collective. I have been a subscriber for 15 years and an occasional contributor. One of the delights of the magazine is the eclectic range of contributors, including all shades of opinion from liberals inside and outside the Lib Dems. However, I confess to becoming irritated at the mean-spiritedness of its editorial line. In this issues it denounces the editors of the new CentreForum publication Britain after Blair as 'in ...
11:36 am

Keeping it real. Honest

Gravatar Last post about winning that little competition. (I hope.) First, you can listen to me being interviewed after the awards ceremony: On the BBC Today programme, being interviewed with Iain Dale. You can listen again here. (Apparently it’s about 17 minutes into the 6.30-7.00 am section.) I’m the one speaking far too quickly. If only I could write that fast.On the Channel 4 News Morning Report
11:18 am

‘Reassuringly Extensive’

Gravatar Last night saw the ‘Bloggers’ Reception and inaugural Lib Dem Blog of the Year Awards’, where Stephen Tall was named Blogger of the Year, to riotous applause. Aside from Millennium, he’s the shortlistee I dash to read most assiduously, and after blogging MP Lynne Featherstone pulled his name from the golden envelope, Stephen wowed the packed, sweaty room with a speech thanking the judges and every
11:04 am

Congratulations Stephen

Gravatar Congratulations to Stephen Tall, Lib Dem Blogger of the Year who was the worthy winner last night. Stephen's blog contains elements of the styles of all the other short-listees coupled with an innovative use of new media, so well deserved. He's also better looking than most bloggers so Lynne Featherstone MP agreed to stand next to him. Tory Blogfather Iain Dale was allowed into the room last night, after he agreed to serve the drinks, and in my view provided one of the most valuable contributions of the evening. The room was very ful, and poorly air conditioned. Iain's ...
11:02 am

Ford's Lane good news & telephone box concern Milnbank Road

Gravatar Had a gentleman at my surgery last Monday complain about dumped garden cuttings in Ford's Lane. Pleased to say they have now been removed by the Waste Management Department following my passing on the complaint to them. A resident in Bankmill Road has complained to me about the really poor state of the phone box in Milnbank Road; apart from having a missing door, there's glass on the ground
10:57 am

Can I stop now?

Gravatar Can I be the last person to post that I won Lib Dem Blog of the Year last night? The highlights? Meeting Lynne Featherstone, all the Lib Dem bloggers and Iain Dale. (In that order.) After Lynne had handed me my award (and I’d dropped it - yes, really), I made a brief speech, the remnants of which I’m trying to dredge up - actually the advantage of writing it down now is that I can vastly
10:41 am

Immigration: "open door = revolving door"

Gravatar My first fringe meeting*, and it’s a crunch issue: ‘Building a liberal consensus on immigration’. First up was former Tory MP Keith Best - these days chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service - who swiftly won over the Lib Dem audience by making an impassioned plea for a sensible and serious debate, in stark contrast to the ‘pub prejudice’ sponsored by the more sensationalist right-wing
10:27 am

Here we are in Brighton

Gravatar and Seb Coe is going to address conference. I hope this is a mistake and we have really got Steve Ovett.
10:22 am

Press Review

Gravatar The Times had ran a helpful leader, and some polling information. They focussed on the negatives (as they are entitled to do). But there are some big positives in the figures. Lib Dems are the party that best understand the way people live today, and care most about ordinary people, and are seen as fairly united. And ICN had us a 21% coming into conference, so despite all the problems at the beginning of the year, we are doing pretty well. The task is to do a lot better though, and Tim Hames has a piece on what we ...
10:10 am

Voice Podcast: Conference diary, day 3

Gravatar *blink* *blink* what day is it? Here’s today’s morning Podcast looking back at yesterday, and ahead to today. You can find the Channel 4 Morning Report Podcast, which is mentioned towards the end,  here. Download Standard Podcast
9:58 am

Pre- Conference Thoughts

Gravatar Watching Sunday AM with Andrew Marr yesterday I can only but agree with Stephen Tall that Ming was 'top notch'. It was the best interview I have seen him give since becoming leader and one where his advantages came to the fore : he was authoritative, measured and well briefed. Now I didn't vote for Ming as even my second preference let alone vote for him as leader but I do sense he is growing into the job. The Ming of now, seems far removed from the hesitant and nervous Ming of those first few weeks. That the MORI poll ...
9:53 am

Lib Dem Blogger of the Year awards

Gravatar This was the hot place to me. One or two bloggers may have melted. A great event anyway. Stephen Tall was on my personal shortlist of two (no, we weren't!) and deserved to win. I hope he is all over the media - Radios 4 and 5 and the Guardian were there, as well as Iain Dale. It was good too to meet some of the bloggers I hadn't met before (Stephen, Jonathan Calder, Iain Sharpe, Ryan Cullen...). Peter Black wasn't around, but he is sat beside me at the moment in the internet cafe in the Conference Centre (does ...
9:52 am

The Beagle Project updates

Gravatar we have: • agreed the memorandum and articles of the not-for-profit company that will raise funds to build the replica HMS Beagle. The company should be set up in a fortnight, then we can start fundraising towards our £3.3 million target. We have already had offers of donations but have not accepted them until we have registered the company and have a fully auditable bank account. • we have an office: details to be posted on the Beagle Project website a soon as it is functioning. • our German shipbuilder is visiting our Milford Haven site on ...
9:48 am

Lib Dem Blogger of the Year

Gravatar Congratulations to Stephen Tall who received the award at last night's reception. He is pictured here with Lynne Featherstone MP, who was one of the judges. Editor's note: This posting was typed through gritted teeth. Later. Mr Tall discusses the finer points of blogging with one of the other finalists...
9:43 am

Duff and Moore on Europe

Gravatar Next up was a session with Andrew Duff and Michael Moore on Europe. I missed the beginning of the Duff speech, but was there for the end, and this was the best bit as far as I am concerned. If I spent a long time listeing ing to Duff on Europe I would start to find UKIP an attractive proposition. Okay, that is over the top, but I could not go along with his maximum europe agenda. Fortunately, Michael Moore made it pretty clear that he couldn't either. Questions included the classic lib dem question "shouldn't our ...
9:42 am

Blair's legacy could be assured

Gravatar were he to introduce the death penalty for spammers. He'd end his presidency carried shoulder high from Downing Street by cheering crowds rather than being driven out with a shitty stick by Brown. This morning I favour impaling, but hanging, drawing and quartering in public at Tyburn (London) and the Knavesmire (York) would do just fine. The 19th century Zulu way with suspected witches would be good, too, but is not the stuff of a family blog. Wouldn't dream of telling Wales or Scotland how to exterminate the vermin - it should be a devolved power ...
9:36 am

Taxing Times

Gravatar First up on my conference agenda was the afternoon session with Vince Cable and Julia Goldsworthy. Vince kept things simple and low-key, talking people through the presentation he had given to the Parliamentary Party. Evan Harris arrived late (ie just after me) and sat down behind the television camera. Some mild conference theatre ensued when we got to questions, as Goldsworthy could not see Harris's raised hand. Eventually he moved and was invited to ask his question. This was pretty low key, essentially looking for confirmation that his proposal (50% from 150,000 pa, but with a cap on Local Income ...
9:28 am

More on coalitions

Gravatar The ready availability of politicians at party conferences make then natural feeding grounds for political journalists just emerging from the bleak wasteland of the summer silly season. Thus it is that papers like the Western Mail have started to feature stories about coalitions once more, taken from a fact-correcting interview with Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Leader, Mike German. Rather predictably, for face-saving reasons the paper cannot let go of its own speculative piece earlier in the summer, in which it suggested that talks have been going on between the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Labour and that cabinet places have ...
9:03 am

Conference bits and pieces

Gravatar Congratulations to Stephen Tall who, as I predicted yesterday morning, was awarded the prize of Liberal Democrat blogger of the year last night. Stephen's blog is consistently thoughtful, intelligent, well-written and above all liberal to its last comma. He was a very worthy winner. All of the shortlisted blogs will, I suspect, have been visited in the last few days by supporters of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club. They are campaigning for a new stadium for their football club and were demonstrating outside the Conference in force yesterday to protest at Lewes District Council's position on this. It is ...
8:40 am

Blackwell out - Please

Gravatar Leeds have now plummeted from mid table to 23rd within the space of a couple of weeks. We do not seem to be able to hit a barn door and the players appear to have lost all faith and confidence in their manager. I know that removing Kevin Blackwell will not provide an instant fix and certainly I can understand that Bates will not want to find himself funding another ex managers wages. But if Blackwell has really lost the dressing room he should go and soon. Mr Curbishley would be my favoured replacement.
7:51 am

Looking to the future? - Part 1

Gravatar Party conference season is here again and the LibDems are meeting in Brighton this week for their annual seaside jamboree. On the agenda are 2 key policy papers that will set the tone of the party's campaigning for the rest of this Parliament & the next general election. One the tax paper is a bold an imaginative attempt to recast the party's tired tax & spend thinking. The other what was billed as a overarching policy review has turned into a damp squib that missees the chance to think new thoughts and instead settles for a tweaking of old ...
7:16 am

Every patch of land, every building, every garden, has a councillor...

Gravatar First of all , congratulations to Stephen Tall on winning "Lib Dem Blogger of the Year"...! I see that Stephen is also a councillor for Headington in Oxford. Not having a good knowledge of the city (last time I went there was for a wedding at St Cross Church decades ago) I don't know whether he represents any of the celebrated dreaming spires. But it got me thinking. Every piece of land in our
6:00 am

Voice Godcast: Alex and the Salvation Army

Gravatar We’re still running a day behind with Alex’s Podcasts - he’s churning them out faster than I can post them up. Conference isn’t all about policy debates and procedural motions. In this Podcast Alex Foster encounters a gaggle of Liberal Democrats surrounding the poor Salvation Army. It’s starting to annoy me that Alex is having fourty times [...]
1:27 am

To Brighton, where a new blog emperor is crowned...

Gravatar To Brighton for the opening salvoes of the Autumn Federal Conference. For reasons best known to myself, I originally decided not to book a hotel room in Brighton, having found the prices being quoted a mite extreme even for my somewhat bourgeois taste. However, on discovering that English Candidates Committee would meet at 9.30 on Sunday morning, I realised that I had no urge to get up at 6 a.m.
12:26 am

The winner is….

Gravatar Stephen Tall is the first Liberal Democrat blogger of the year: Well done Stephen! As the room was packed with both bloggers, the press (and Iain Dale!), I’m pretty sure we will repeat this in future - though possibly with air conditioning. (Personally, I think it is a sign of our green credentials that we [...]
12:00 am

And the winner is ...

Gravatar The first Lib Dem blogger of the year is Stephen Tall ( - who I presented the prize to this evening: {Presenting Stephen Tall with his blog of the year prize}

Previous days:

Sunday 17th September 2006, Saturday 16th September 2006, Friday 15th September 2006, Thursday 14th September 2006, Wednesday 13th September 2006, Tuesday 12th September 2006