Conference Highlights


Most risqué exhibitor

Most risqué exhibitor

The Family Planning Association reports plenty of interest from delegates. Its stand is apparently doing a roaring trade in condoms - clearly the party conference is hotter than singles' night at Asda. "We have given away 150 condoms already and some people are coming back the next morning for more," said a stallholder. 'There are all ages; young as well as old."

Hottest property

Lib Dem MPs heading to Hartlepool for by-election canvassing are squabbling over the eco-friendly jute bags sponsored by The Independent. The bags being handed out at the conference are apparently the perfect size for delivering their leaflets to potential voters.

Daredevil of the day

Lembit Opik, the harmonica-playing MP, plans to take the controls of a plane flying Charles Kennedy to Hartlepool. Mr Opik, who is also a keen asteroid spotter, has hired a twin-engined plane to fly the party leader from Bournemouth straight to the by-election trail later this week. "I have a share in a one-engine plane but I decided to hire a two-engine one just in case," he said. "Wiping out the party leader and having two by-elections would not be good."

Quotes of the day

"I think the party tends to be rather more from Venus than from Mars"

Matthew Taylor MP, the chairman of the parliamentary party, at a fringe meeting on women in public life

"We need to have a Prime Minister who cares about the environment and a Chancellor who is green not Brown"

Norman Baker, the environment spokesman, during a debate on the environment

Stars of the show

The Gurkhas, who turned up in their regimental hats and blazers to lobby for the right to become British citizens after retirement. Fortunately they left their legendary kukri knives at home.

Best protest

Members of the Falun Gong, the suppressed Chinese organisation, meditated outside the conference yesterday they said it was in order to raise awareness of alleged torture by the Chinese government.

Today's agenda

9am: Debate on the future of the BBC

10.20am: Debate on health

12pm: Debate on policy for older people

12.30: Edward Davey, spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

2.15pm: Debate on crime

3.45pm: Pensions debate

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