Conference diary

Joke-writers for Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrats' local government spokeswoman, must have been working to the last minute. The text she released of her speech to conference yesterday began with the tantalising words "ad-lib here" followed by the immortal line: "Anyway, enough of this ridiculous nonsense."

The actual gag she came up with was about her 4 foot 10 inch height - bolstered by a pair of scarlet stilettos. "This is my full adult height," she quipped.

DEMOCRAT OF THE DAY

Vince Cable, the modernising Treasury spokesman, who told delegates of his time working for the government of Kenya. He said his old boss President Kenyatta was under pressure from an opposition promising free land, free food and free beer. "After some thought, I came up with what I thought was an election-winning slogan ... a rather crude Swahili translation for 'there is no such thing as a free lunch'. Sadly he rejected my advice and opted for the safer course of cancelling the election and locking up the opposition."

WAKE-UP CALL OF THE DAY

The crack Liberal Democrat research team has been looking bleary-eyed, not on account of their partying antics, but because party high command has billeted them next to one of Europe's largest roller-coasters. "We are woken up every morning by the sound of screams," yawned one wonk.

SWEET TAX

Delegates living on chocolate bars and biscuits should look out. The party's tax proposals float the idea of a "sugar tax" to tackle the growing problem of obesity.

RAFFLE OF THE DAY

The Torbay MP, Adrian Sanders, has outdone his colleagues in providing a raffle prize to raise party funds. He donated an entire palm tree from the English Riviera. It's the only one in windy Blackpool.

REBEL OF THE DAY

The newly elected Birmingham Yardley MP, John Hemming, who proposed the key vote on post offices that gave the leadership its second defeat in as many days.

AGENDA FOR TODAY

10.30am: Parliamentary report by the chief whip, Andrew Stunnell

Noon: Speech by Mark Oaten, home affairs spokesman

12.20pm: Debate on "ending elective dictatorship"

2.15pm: Debate on road pricing

3pm: Question and answer session on the environment with Norman Baker MP

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