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.

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
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

SEN Teacher

£36000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Experienced SEN Teacher n...

Volunteer Mentor for people who have offended

This is an unpaid volunteer role. : Belong: We are looking for volunteers who ...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Experienced TA's urgently...

Business StudiesTeacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Supply Business Studies Teacher...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?