Liberal Democrats' Conference Diary

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Indy Politics

The party's former communications chief, Mark Littlewood, was left sprawling on the ground outside the hall after a heated altercation with the Torbay MP Adrian Sanders. Witnesses said Littlewood fell over a wall into a bush. They exchanged words over a forecast by Littlewood's think-tank, Liberal Vision, that the party could lose seats, including Torbay, to the Tories. Party chiefs hurriedly asked Sanders to apologise.

* When Lib Dems gather at the seaside, money markets quake. Black Wednesday coincided with their 1992 conference and last year's Northern Rock crisis came as they met in Brighton. Vince Cable notes that the conference curse has struck again, saying: "This time we've managed to precipitate the collapse of Lehman Brothers."

* No panic at Nick Clegg's HQ over his first conference speech as leader. His oration is almost written – or is at least in its fifth draft. A party veteran notes that Clegg's efficiency contrasts with that of his predecessors. "Paddy Ashdown was a perfectionist and argued over every phrase – we'd be on draft 46 by now," he says. "In Charles Kennedy's day we would have been running around asking, 'Where's the first draft?'."

What about Sir Ming? "He would have made a series of indecipherable alterations to the draft with the biggest fountain pen I've ever seen."

*Speaking of the dapper ex-leader, Sir Menzies stunned a fringe meeting yesterday by removing his jacket. He reassured the throng: "This isn't a leadership bid."

*TODAY'S AGENDA

10.15am – Chris Huhne, home affairs spokesman.

10.35am – Transport debate.

12.20pm – Simon Hughes, party president.

2.30pm – Europe debate.

4pm – Question and answer session about the economy.

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