Conference diary: Attack dog muzzled

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Indy Politics

Is Chris Huhne having second thoughts about his role as the Lib Dems' anti-Tory attack dog? He dropped a planned reference from his conference speech to William Hague as a "skinhead who has gone round the beer cellars of Europe and come up with the dregs" to support the Conservatives in the European Parliament. Comparing the shadow Foreign Secretary to a BNP-style fascist was clearly a step too far – even for Huhne.

Warm words

Some of the fierier phrases in Nick Clegg's address today were forged in rural Spain. He began work on his keynote speech during his traditional summer holiday at his in-laws' home in Castile and Leon six weeks ago.

Cheap rates

Harder-up delegates have been grumbling over the decision to move today's end-of-conference leader's speech from its traditional noon slot to the early afternoon. Apparently many had already bought cheap-rate tickets to travel home at lunch-time.

Washed up

Sad scenes on Bournemouth seafront, where a whale was beached overnight. It reminded veteran conference-goers of the good old days when "Big Cyril" Smith rolled into town.

Good day

Watched by Nick Clegg, frontbencher Steve Webb's demand for a bit more hope and optimism in their appeal to the voters was rapturously received by delegates weary of threats to totemic policies such as scrapping tuition fees.

Bad day

Vince Cable's halo was looking tarnished yesterday after angry fellow MPs confronted him over his plans for a "mansion tax", protesting that he failed to tell them about his big idea.

Today's agenda

Morning: Emergency debates on youth unemployment and housing.

Afternoon: Closing address by Nick Clegg.

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