Andy McSmith's Lib Dem Conference Diary: 'Do I want to throw myself in the Clyde? Yes, I do'


What makes the Liberal Democrats so lovable is the style with which they make a mess of things. On Monday the unfortunate, no doubt hideously embarrassed press officer who let slip the advice note for MPs explaining how to reply to journalists’ questions about issues such as income tax and the so-called bedroom tax – and accidentally emailed it to a select list of political journalists – did not have to face the music in public. But the senior spinner who was dispatched to the press room to sort out the disaster did so with admirable good humour, remarking at the end: “Do I want to throw myself in the Clyde? Yes, I do.”

It was the day’s most embarrassing moment – and even managed to overshadow the moment when the Energy Secretary Ed Davey was being interviewed by the BBC’s Andrew Neil, and part of the conference backdrop collapsed on him live on air.

Don’t forget the islands: Cable’s Scottish faux pas

It would be wrong to blame the Liberal Democrats for a civil service cock-up, such as publishing a series of industrial strategy infographics, which included the locations of oil, gas and renewable energy industries, decorated with a map of the UK which left out Scotland’s Western and Northern Isles – but the guilty department was the Department for Business, headed by Vince Cable.

As reported on these pages, he was already having a difficult day at the party conference. The error was seized upon by the Scottish Nationalists, who gleefully noted that it coincides with a poll that shows the Liberal Democrats coming fifth in Scotland, behind the Greens.

False pretences: no Danish actresses involved

The Electoral Reform Society ought to be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority for the leaflet it distributed on Monday, advertising a fringe meeting headed “From Borgen to Britain: a how-to guide to coalition government”, adorned by a picture of Borgen’s star, Sidse Babett Knudsen.

Those who piled in for a glimpse of the gorgeous Danish actress were confronted with a panel of speakers whose only Scandinavian representative was a bald, bespectacled Swede named Magnus Wallera, a functionary employed in the Prime Minister’s office, whose talk was as flat as his skull was round.

What sounded the death knell for Mad Mel

It was a sad day for Daily Mail readers as Melanie Phillips signed off her last Monday column. I am told that what finally made the Daily Mail’s editor Paul Dacre decide to dispense with his most famous contributor was her appearance on BBC Question Time in June, when she announced that “Our interests lie in neutralising Iran” – and when the studio audience scoffed, she pointed at them with arm outstretched and exclaimed: “You laugh, you laugh! Neutralise Iran, and a British audience laughs! How trivial, how incredibly ignorant of you!”

My informant says: “People don’t think this is just Mel, they think it’s the Daily Mail: we can’t have people thinking the Daily Mail wants to nuke Iran.” Mel will keep writing: all she needs is an outlet that is less middle of the road.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Senior Management Accountant

£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day supply

£110 - £130 per day + Competitve rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Yea...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits