Critics praise Clegg 'speech of substance'
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's crucial conference speech appeared to have won over some of his prominent critics within the party.
Throughout the conference there has been speculation about the status of totemic policies such as abolishing tuition fees and the party's leadership has been criticised over the way the "mansion tax" proposal was not widely consulted on.
But senior MP Evan Harris, who led calls for Mr Clegg to listen to members, said the leader had learned that he must respect the party's will.
He said: "The grassroots have, as usual, debated policies with the leadership because it is the way we do things in this party."
Mr Clegg had "gained enormously from realising the need to test policy in the party as well as the wider public".
Earlier this week Dr Harris, the party's science spokesman, said Mr Clegg was a "good leader" but could only become great by realising the need to respect the will of the party.
Dr Harris said Mr Clegg delivered his speech "in fine style but the substance was there as well.
"We are a party that is very keen on the substance of policy and we are a party that debates it openly."
Work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb had used a conference appearance to criticise the gloomy tone of Mr Clegg's statements.
But he too praised the leader's performance during the conference finale in Bournemouth.
"He talked about austerity and cuts, but said why they were necessary and focused on the positive."
Asked whether he thought Mr Clegg had heeded his call, Mr Webb said: "He probably worked it out for himself but it was good to hear. It was uplifting."
Former leader Lord Ashdown said Mr Clegg had sent activists away with a "song in our heart and a spring in our step".
Lord Ashdown said: "If you want a monument, look around you. If you want a comment, look around you. Look at the faces, look at the enthusiasm. We have a really professional, powerful platform speaker and there is going to be a lot more.
"I have watched him growing in confidence personally and he is a tough leader and he gives leadership to the party. Sometimes that's not very comfortable for some but there is no doubt that it is there.
"He had a task to do, to send us away with a song in our heart and a spring in our step and he has done that in spades."
Home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "I thought it was a very good speech, he set the right tone for us to go out and campaign against the Tories. If people want real change it is only the Liberal Democrats that can offer it."
Foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said Mr Clegg had highlighted the "phoney" policies of the Tories in the eyes of voters. "The vision he gave of real change for Britain was one that is resonating around," he said.
"The fact the Tories don't offer anything new, how Nick portrayed it as phoney change, I think will strike people who are looking for a different sort of Government, they will be really inspired by that speech."
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...