Smiles all round after Nick Clegg's speech

Click to follow

Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs filed out of the conference hall with smiles on their faces following Nick Clegg's speech.

Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne said: "It was exhilarating. It was the most exciting moment in my 22 years as a Liberal Democrat member."

Former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "There is no question that this was a very, very strong pitch to people who have supported the Liberal Democrats in the past to stick with us, in his words."

He added: "It was a resounding peroration at the end about how we can change the country forever."

Junior business minister Ed Davey said the speech was "fantastic", adding: "He didn't dodge any of the difficult questions but I think he's got everyone inspired. We're going to change Britain for good."

And East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson said: "It was very uplifting. It showed how Liberal Democrats are already delivering in Government and looking ahead to what we're going to implement over the next five years."

But Southport MP John Pugh, who described himself as "centre left" of the party, said he did not agree with Mr Clegg's support for academies.

"In conference terms, I thought it was his best speech," he said.

"Obviously, I'm not going to agree with the bit on academies but the rest of it I thought was a very solid direct performance stating what were the realistic objectives of the Government.

"I think he went out of his way to emphasise he was a supporter of public services, that he's not in favour necessarily of shrinking the state for the sake of it.

"All those were ideological anxieties that had been voiced by opponents."