Conference Diary: David Laws is coming back. But who's for the chop?

Village people at the party conferences
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Indy Politics

Rumours abound at conference of a Lib Dem ministerial reshuffle. After many false starts, Nick Clegg thinks he's now close to getting David Laws back on the top table.

So who's to go?

The equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, is tipped for the chop. Insiders say she is struggling to make a mark in the Home Office, and her cause wasn't helped by her claim to conference yesterday that men make "terrible decisions" when they are in charge.

Another vulnerable minister is Sarah Teather, who is currently minister of state in Michael Gove's Education Department. She did herself no favours with a puerile and ill-judged stand-up routine in her party conference speech.

"I want to get back to my hotel room to watch Strictly," she told delegates. "I've heard they've got Peter Hain booked for the next series. He's going to do the tango ... or has he been tangoed?"

Despite silence in the hall she ploughed on.

"I heard that George Osborne is quite keen to get on the show as well. He wants to do a line dance."

Word has it that the Lib Dem leadership were "dismayed".

Meanwhile the millionaire Laws was spotted dining at Birmingham's only Michelin-starred restaurant on Sunday night. And who picks up the bill? Yes, that will be us, the taxpayer.

Grilling turns to gushing for Clegg

Nick Clegg has been getting the obligatory hard time in regional interviews. "Mr Clegg, you're so unpopular in the North East that the Lib Dems are being wiped off the map," he was told by a Tyne-Tees presenter. Cameras rolled, and Clegg gave stock answer number 76. Cameras off, and the mood lightened. "Thanks so much for that, Nick," the presenter gushed. "Just one more thing. Do you think you could record a message of congratulations to a colleague who is getting married? He's such a big fan of yours."

Dog's life for Danny

Returning to a subject in yesterday's diary: the allure of Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. An elderly Lib Dem lady mistook him yesterday for Nick Clegg. Describing the encounter to her husband, she was overheard saying: "Honestly, he looks more like him every year. It's a bit like those dogs which start looking like their owners."