Lib Dems gear up for their biggest ever conference

The Liberal Democrats are preparing for the biggest conference in their history following their decision to form a coalition with the Conservatives.

The party's annual gathering was traditionally regarded as a curtain-raiser for the Labour and Tory conferences. It was always more relaxed and less heavily policed than its rivals – and noticeably more sparsely attended.

All that has changed this year as the Liberal Democrats enjoy their first taste of power for 65 years, with Nick Clegg and three party colleagues filling seats in the Cabinet. One thousand extra pass applications are being processed for next month's conference in Liverpool. Security controls are being tightened and hotels in the city have experienced a rush in bookings.

More than 7,000 delegates, members of the media and commercial attendees are expected to travel to the conference, compared with its usual attendance of about 6,000. The number of journalists attending is likely to leap from 1,000 last year to more than 1,500.

The number of organisations, including firms, unions and charities, taking stands in the conference exhibition hall is increasing from 67 in 2009 to 90 this year. Record numbers of fringe meetings are also being organised.

However, the growing interest has alarmed some conference organisers who fear that disquiet among delegates over coalition policies – notably deep spending cuts – will be laid bare.

A motion condemning the creation of "free schools" will be debated, while dissent over housing, the reorganisation of the health service and nuclear power is also likely to boil over.

Party figures will strive to demonstrate the influence they are having on the coalition which Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has described as "a business, not a marriage". Liberal Democrat members of government will be authorised to make announcements in their policy portfolio.

One senior Liberal Democrat said: "If people want to go looking for splits with the Tories, they will be able to find them. But we have to be relaxed about that and not obsess about it – it is the price of the position we are in."

In a further demonstration of the party's rise to power, Mr Clegg's end-of-conference speech has been brought forward by two days to enable him to deputise for David Cameron at a meeting of the United Nations in New York. However, this creates a potential problem for party managers. One said: "There is always the risk that while the cat is away the mice will play."

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "This year's conference will be by far the biggest in the party's history. It's very exciting and a sign the Liberal Democrats have come of age."

Last year's Conservative conference was attended by 12,500, with 13,500 passes expected to be issued for this year's gathering in Birmingham. More than 10,000 delegates and visitors attended the 2009 Labour conference in Brighton.

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits