Conference diary

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Indy Politics

Badge of honour

They're the party pin-ups. Sales are soaring of badges and fridge magnets emblazoned with the faces of each of the 63 Liberal Democrat MPs. Top of the sales charts is Nick Clegg, with Chris Huhne trailing second. Taunton MP Jeremy Browne was ranked third, ahead of Ming Campbell, who limped into fourth place behind Charles Kennedy.

Long shot

Following the Northern Rock crisis, the party's number cruncher and polls guru Chris Rennard has lengthened the odds on an October election from 3/1 to 6/1. Party chiefs will carry on preparing for a snap poll, but he has said to friends: "It looks a bit more like a fire drill now."

Fan club

Freebie of the conference goes to the brothers and sisters of the Trades Union Congress, who have been doling out rather snazzy fans that are powered by laptops. Party chiefs snapped up a couple when the atmosphere behind the scenes reached boiling point.

Talking Taff

Spare a thought for the sign language interpreters who had to shrug their shoulders when a delegate Elgan Morgan from Cardiff delivered half of his speech during the immigration debate in Welsh, which he called the "language of heaven". Mae'r cyfan fel Groeg i fi (it's all Greek to me).

Good day

Bizarrely, John Reid, the former Home Secretary, who was identified as the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell by an overhelming 80 per cent of people in a straw poll that was conducted by Channel Four, out on the streets of Brighton.

Bad day

Ed Davey the party's chief of staff, who excitedly described new policy proposals to abolish planning rules as "exciting" and "radical". Activists, however, were not so excited. They said they were "shallow" and "vague" and overwhelmingly threw them out.

Fringe of the Day

The racey sounding "Let's talk about sex!" meeting, which was organised by the eager Women Liberal Democrats and which starred the Oxford West MPDr Evan Harris.

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