Conference diary

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Indy Politics

Master of mirth

Neil Sherlock, a former adviser to Paddy Ashdown, now a partner at the accountants KPMG, is the man who was tasked with turning Ming Campbell from earnest elder statesman into a king of comedy by penning a series of one-liners. Pick of the bunch: Well, you had to be there, but Ming's quip about Boris Johnson offering the voters of London "the blondest suicide note in history" went down a storm.

Lonely figure

The former Labour left-winger Brian Sedgemore has been sipping his coffee around the conference centre all week. The defector, who dramatically quit Labour at the start of the 2005 election campaign, has no regrets. He describes his former Labour colleagues as "a bunch of supine careerists desperate to become junior minister for paperclips". Say what you really mean, Brian.

The good old days

The time when party activists routinely embarrassed their leadership with flaky motions and bizarre defeats have gone for good. But some of Ming Campbell's lieutenants have been doing the rain dance for a bit of old-fashioned trouble. One said: "We could have done with some madness on the conference floor to stop the hacks writing about Ming's leadership."

End of her Teather

Sarah Teather, the party's universities spokesman, got into a bit of bother about the Lib Dems' tuition fee policy when she talked on the BBC about reviewing it. Sadly, a document issued minutes earlier referred to the party's commitment to scrapping fees. She told the programme's presenter: "I'm just the higher education spokeswoman, no one tells me anything." She was last seen rushing off to remonstrate with Ming's aides.

Spin of the week

Lord Rennard, who earned the wrath of broadcasters for rambling on, thanking what felt like thousands for their help running in the conference. He made Ming Campbell's speech so late that it nearly overran the start of the 1 o'clock news. He explained: "Ming got too much applause; the speech was longer than we expected."

Comeback kid of the week

Sir Menzies Campbell, who endured days of disparaging headlines about his age and the manoeuvrings of his possible successors, but silenced his critics with a rousing conference speech well above expectations.

Good week

Vince Cable, the party's brainy Treasury spokesman and Shell's former chief economist. Vince, that rarest of things, an MP who really knows what he's on about, won plaudits for having predicted the banking crisis years in advance.

Bad week

A two-way tie. Nick Clegg, the party's home affairs man and rising star, did his bit to keep the leadership row going and Ed Davey, the leader's chief of staff, struggled and failed to tame the feral beasts of the press corps.

Fringe of the week

Scores of people were turned away when the young pretenders Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne went head to head for the first and only time at The Independent's fringe meeting.

Quote of the week

"I don't know if you're being helpful or not" – Elspeth Campbell ticking off Nick Clegg for stirring up the leadership speculation for yet another day.

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