Bob Russell: We are now a force to be reckoned with

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The Independent Online

I have been attending Liberal Democrat Party conferences for 15 years, and I am told by media anoraks that they are always better fun than Labour and Conservative conferences, and that they could rely on our five days at the seaside being more of a jolly outing than a serious political event. That is no longer the case.

Liberal Democrats are now serious players, and need to be taken seriously. This conference in Liverpool is by far the biggest and, I would say, the best.

The fact that we are in Government has clearly made this so, added to which the facilities are first-class coupled with the wonderful friendly welcome from the people of Liverpool.

I have spent 40 years fighting the Tories, campaigning for a fairer society, trying to improve life for the disad-vantaged. So forming a Coalition partnership with the dastardly Conservatives is a huge shock. But needs must.

So far as the conference is concerned, the higher profile for the party – and the massively increased security – has not, I am pleased to say, affected the atmosphere which we have enjoyed and experienced over the years. What is different is that we now know that we are being listened to seriously.

Bob Russell is the MP for Colchester