Village People: Huhne gives a speedy tour through the complexities of marriage

At the party conferences...
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Indy Politics

Despite a call from Nick Clegg for Liberal Democrats to stop apologising, it seems one member of his party may have a little more to do.

Chris Huhne spoke last night for the first time of his "enormous regret" over the acrimonious break-up of his marriage. The Energy Secretary disclosed he has apologised to his former wife, Vicky Pryce, about the split, but admitted she had refused to forgive him. Mr Huhne left her last year for his adviser, Carina Trimingham, after 25 years of marriage. Questioned about the split, Mr Huhne said: "Frankly it was an appalling set of circumstances. I personally feel enormously regretful about what I put my family through and what happened with Vicky. Asked at a fringe meeting if he had apologised to her, the Cabinet minister said: "Yes." Pressed on whether she had accepted, he said: "No."

He said he did not know whether Ms Pryce, with whom he has three children, would eventually forgive him.

Mr Huhne said he "understood entirely" why his former wife found it difficult to forgive him given the "public process, the very public way we broke up".

To the embarrassment of Mr Huhne, both his former wife and current partner are attending the conference in Birmingham.

Cut our pensions? The cheek of it!

It was left to pensioners to show the youngsters how it's done. A band of old-age protestors staged a naked demo at the conference, aptly showing their fear of being "stripped" of their pension protection by Danny Alexander and his Treasury chums.

A man in blue turns the yellows green

Last year's Liberal Democrat Party conference was the first to be attended by a senior Tory when Oliver Letwin popped up at a fringe meeting with Danny Alexander. This year integration goes on a pace. Yesterday the Conservative MP Peter Bone was spotted near the conference centre.

Yes, the same Peter Bone who says the NHS "would not be out of place in Stalin's Russia" and defended paying a 17-year-old trainee 87p an hour.

Just to prove that the Lib Dems are a broad church, Dr Vincent McKee, the party's candidate for Coventry North West last year, has been recorded allegedly leaving a voicemail calling a client "a half-civilised barbarian" and repeatedly telling him to "get back to the fucking country you came from". Charming.

Chewed up and spat out by Eric

More reshuffle news. Andrew Stunell – currently a Liberal Democrat minister in the Department of Communities and Local Government – is also expected to return to the backbenches. Not that many people realised he left them.

In a speech to conference yesterday Mr Stunell said he had come to "account for what I've done in government".

Well, not very much, say critics. They complain Mr Stunell has been virtually invisible since taking up the mantle of office and has been outflanked at every turn by his boss Eric Pickles and the ever media-hungry Housing minister Grant Shapps.

"He used to lecture us on how we could avoid getting lost in Coalition councils," says a source. "Now look at him."

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