Andy McSmith's Diary: Free school meals for all – just don’t tell Mr President...

Our man in Glasgow

It was a great idea from Nick Clegg’s office to use the Lib Dem conference to announce free school meals for primary school children, but it’s a shame that they did not tip off the party’s elected President, Simon Hughes, in time.

Not long ago, Hughes was slagging off his local Labour council for its wastefulness – in providing free school meals.

“They’re spending £15m giving free school meals, some of this going to the borough’s richest families...Labour-run Southwark Council can’t get the basics right,” thundered one leaflet, signed by Mr Hughes in person.

He told me: “We had taken the view collectively in Southwark that in certain circumstances this wasn’t the priority and the money should go on other things. As it happens, in recent weeks when we were drawing up our manifesto, we revised this view. We came to the view that the policy was accepted in Southwark and we shouldn’t reverse it – before Nick Clegg made his policy announcement.”

The Lib Dems’ living Dolly

Just before Nick Clegg’s big speech that brought the Lib Dem conference to a climax, the Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael took to the stage bizarrely accompanied by the Dolly Parton hit “Nine To Five”.

He then described Tessa Munt, Lib Dem MP for Wells, as “our own Dolly Parton”. What did that mean? Did he mean: “Why’d You Come In Here Looking Like That”, or what?

Lord of the manners...

I am late coming to this, but Paddy Ashdown, the man who led the Liberal Democrats out of the wilderness in the 1990s, is interviewed in the magazine Total Politics. How well do he and Nick Clegg work together, the interviewer asked. His reply: “Mind your own business.” No wonder they made this man a lord.

Party conference poopers

Numerous BBC political interviewers and journalists who used to be seen at the big party conferences are absent this year, as they were last year. They include all of the regional political editors and most of the presenters.

It is a cost-saving exercise which has had a remarkable impact on the BBC’s budget, saving £500,000 a year. So far they’ve saved one deputy director general’s redundancy payment.

The tweet sound of success

At last – a poll that puts the Lib Dems ahead of the two main parties.

It comes from Twitter, who point out that 42 out of 55 Lib Dem MPs, or 76 per cent, have Twitter accounts, compared with 72 per cent of Labour MPs and a paltry 60 per cent of Tories. So good we booked it twice

Having filled the Glasgow Exhibition Centre this year, the Liberal Democrats will be back in the same venue next autumn. That was not as originally planned.

They were going to hold their conference at the usual time, in mid-September, in Liverpool, but 18 September 2014 is to be the date of the Scottish referendum. Rather than clash with that, the Lib Dems decided to delay their conference by three weeks, but the Liverpool venue was filled, so Glasgow it is.

If the Tories did unions...

Away from Glasgow, union bosses have been attacked so often by the Conservatives for allegedly representing no-one but themselves that you can understand the pleasure they took in today’s revelation on the ConservativeHome website that Tory party membership now stands at 134,000.

If the Tories were a trade union, they would be the ninth biggest TUC affiliate, behind the post office workers union, the 204,000 strong CWU. The same could be said of the Labour Party, with 187,537 members.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'