...a blog by Richard Flowers

Monday, September 18, 2006

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


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 GREEN credentials will be a thread throughout the week, from the party rally on Sunday evening through to the green tax switch tax changes to the leader’s speech at close of conference.

To promote Diversity, the Party will launch a Diversity Fund backed with an initial two hundred thousand pounds from the Rowntree Foundation. This will be money that can be spent to support the campaigning of women and ethnic minority candidates. Local parties can apply for some of the fund when they select a qualifying candidate.

To help show the party's commitment to diversity, the Monday press briefing had Mr Ed joined by Ms Jo Swinson MP who is a minority ethnic SCOTTISH person, and Mr Sajjid Karim MEP who is a woman.

(They had to hurry off to be photographed with the party's minority pensioner representative, Sir Mr the Merciless, so they didn’t get to say anything.)

It was a little bit of a shame that Mr Ed seemed to have forgotten to include one other minority as there was no sign of the Liberal Democrats only out gay daddy. This is a shame as there seem to be quite a LOT of gay daddies here in Brighton. I wonder if anyone has thought of organising some sort of DADDY PRIDE festival.

Another thing that challenges diversity is the Labour's desire to BAN EVERYTHING. Good news then that the Liberal Democrat’s Mr Clogg has used his Monday speech to launch a GREAT REPEAL ACT to make the law a lot less silly and complicated. This is a major policy announcement, and it is all very meaty stuff: most governments come in saying that they want to make LOTS of new laws that they think will fix everything (even though this usually only makes life a LOT more COMPLICATED for everyone instead). It is ABOUT TIME that someone came along promising to GET RID of a few.

Mr Ed wants to see this week as a HOTBED of policy formulation, to show that the Liberal Democrats are a party of THOUGHT and SUBSTANCE.

The Labour will be spending their conference in a kind of BALLET of DEATH, though less the Dying Swan and more the Lame Blairimort. Around him will swoop and whirl the FAIRY FIGURES of those seeking to replace him. This will hardly be a good place to discuss policy, much less the needs of the people of Britain. (Far be it for anyone to suggest that the Labour should be thinking about THEM! They’re only RUNNING the COUNRTY!)

The Conservatory Conference will, if you can possibly believe it, be even worse. There will be a string of "Balloonite" speeches full of words and empty of content. Mr Ed threw down the gauntlet to the Conservatories to try and at least KEEP UP with Liberal Democrat policy making.

The dead wood press, on the other fluffy foot have two main policy agenda for the week: is the party split on tax and is Sir Mr the Merciless leadership under threat.

No and no appear to have been ruled out as possible answers – so much for investigative journalism.

Sir Mr the Merciless knows that questions of leadership take TIME to settle. Just as he took many years to build up the Liberals in his own constituency until in the end he was able to take the seat, he knows that he needs to work ceaselessly until his competence and consistency convince people he IS the man for the job.

In the meantime, he has been on stage for a COZY FIRESIDE CHAT with Mr Michael White of the Grauniad. This was a format that the previous leader Mr CK1 Kennedy had come up with and it suited his famous CHATSHOW style. Perhaps Sir Mr the Merciless should have found a slightly different format that would have played up more his MAGISTERIAL nature and not made him and Mr White look like HISTORY TODAY.

Even so, the hugely packed audience were very appreciative.

He talked a lot about his background and his long commitment to Liberalism: how he used to answer Mr John Smith’s probing about why he wasn’t in the Labour with the simple but you would have thought OBVIOUS answer:

"John, I am not in the Labour Party because I am a Liberal."

The vital difference between the Labour and the Liberal Democrats is that the Labour believe that they have all the answers and should control people from the centre; the Liberal Democrats trust in people.

He was more scornful of the Conservatories under Mr Balloon: he thought that Mr Balloon's claim to be a "liberal Conservatory" is REALLY a ploy to appear as an "INNOFENSIVE Conservatory".

Asked whether he would be "sexing up" his image, Sir Mr the Merciless scoffed at the idea. People can see through artifice, he said, mentioning in passing Mr Frown's claim to listen to the Arctic Monkeys (Mr Frown thought that they meant the ORIGINAL Monkeys – get down with that Davy Jones, Gordon!)

This is unlikely to satisfy the press desire for FISTICUFFS, though. Fortunately, Mr Ed has arranged for Tuesday to be two HOT SPOTS for media FRENZY: the vote on the 50p tax rate and the return of Mr CK1 Kennedy. It’s almost like a SPECIAL EPISODE of Emmerdale, it is so exciting!

I think I may go PADDLING!

1 comment:

Onlinefocus Team said...

Wonderful stuff , Elephant, just wonderful.

Brought a smile to my face at the end of a loooong day.

By the way, is there any sign of my near-hero Clement Freud at the Conference?