Conference Diary: Make love, not ill-formulated taxation policies...
Thursday 24 September 2009
Hit and run
In a 24-hour cameo appearance, Charles Kennedy forced Nick Clegg to share the limelight at the opening rally and then slated the leadership's stance over university tuition fees. One livid Clegg loyalist spluttered: "It was absolutely typical of Charles – swan in, cause trouble and swan off."
Revenge best served cold
Ten months ago, Clegg was overheard on a plane denigrating his own pensions spokesman Steve Webb: "Webb must go. I can't stand the man. We need someone with good ideas." At least time heals... or not. This week Webb berated his leader for delivering an overly gloomy conference message that risked alienating voters – making himself an instant hero to many delegates, and also unsackable.
Fringe of the week...
... was The Independent's, of course, in which the former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell spoke of his disappointment in not leading the party into a general election, aired fears over the Afghanistan war and spoke up for other supposed victims of ageism such as the ex- Strictly judge Arlene Phillips.
Try quick-stepping your way out of this one, "St" Vince Cable. Lib Dem hopes in Middle England rest on his ability to argue that he can be better trusted to wield the spending axe than Alistair Darling or George Osborne. After a difficult week, Vince left many colleagues queasy – they protest that he is not a team player and railroaded Clegg into his pet project of a "mansion tax". Or as one Lib Dem frontbencher put it: "Dare I say that all the coverage he's had in the last two years has gone to his head a bit?"
Lib Dems, sayonara Bournemouth. Next year: Liverpool!
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