Liberal Democrat Conference Diary
Monday 15 September 2008
*There are jitters in Liberal Democrat high command over Lembit Opik's attempt to become party president. Colourful doesn't begin to describe the love life of the former paramour of weather girl Siân Lloyd and Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia. Opik is otherwise known for warning of the threat from asteroids and appearances on shows like Al Murray's Happy Hour. But with the party president having a crucial role in the event of a hung parliament, when he or she would represent grassroots opinion, some fear he lacks gravitas and prefer candidate Baroness Ros Scott. But Opik's star quality is likely to hold sway.
*Vince Cable, the man hailed as an economic oracle for predicting the credit crunch and urging the nationalisation of Northern Rock, has embarked on his most ambitious project – the definitive history of the financial turmoil engulfing the world, in a book to due out next year. But he admits: "I'm not sure how it's going to finish."
*Lib Dem stalwart Neil Sherlock has lent his speech-writing skills to a succession of party leaders, including Nick Clegg. So what did he think of his first appearance at the rally opening proceedings? Were any of his well-crafted one-liners used? He never found out. Organisers underestimated their leader's appeal and booked such a small room that Sherlock and 100 activists were turned away.
*Charles Clarke erupted when he was doorstepped by Sky News after addressing a fringe meeting in Bournemouth. "That's out of order," he barked at newsman Glen Oglaza, who tried to get a few words from the man who detonated a hand grenade under Gordon Brown's relaunch. The former Home Secretary raised eyebrows when he turned up with Blairite minister David Lammy, but insisted he was not getting embroiled in the latest row over the PM's leadership. Bit late for that.
11.15am – Norman Lamb, health spokesman
12.20pm – Vince Cable, economic spokesman.
2.50pm – Debate on tax and spending proposals.
4.20pm – Q & A on environmental policy.
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