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When does a debate become a row? Sep 17

BBC News 24 was reporting this morning that there will be a row over tax at this conference, and that Ming Campbell has denied the vote would of confidence in the leadership. He is right.

Much as this week is a nice holiday by the sea, we come down to debate real policy issues. The complaint levelled, fairly, against Labour and the Tories is that there is no real debate at their party conferences and the patry memberships only have a limited say. The Liberal Democrats are not like that – we’re a democratic party and we make policy together. Is it any wonder, though, that the other parties don’t risk this when substantive policy debate is repeatedly characterised as being about the media’s favourite subject, personalities.

When we debate the 50p tax rate amendment (which is an addition to, not a replacement for, Ming’s tax plan), we will deal with the substantive issue. Of course there will be disagreements: there is no absolute right or wrong on this. We will agree a position democratically, arguing which case is best for the party and, more importantly, for the country. Talk of the debate being a referendum on the leadership isn’t helpful and isn’t true.

If we always agreed on policy, there would be little point having a party conference.

One Response

  1. Exactly what I’m thinking as I sit here watching BBC News 24 and wondering what the hell they are talking about – we have come to the decision that Sir Menzies Campbell is the best leader for the party and at conference we* will decide what the best policy we as a party can have. The idea that this is a confidence motion on Sir Menzies is ludicrous and just deters other two parties from giving their members a real say in policy.

    * Though not me – I’m off on holiday to Barcelona tomorrow!