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Conferencing III Mar 06

On Saturday afternoon, I popped into the conference hall just in time to see Baroness Ludford MEP storm the stage (I exaggerate a little). From there, to a meeting in the bar, and then to an excellent LibDems Online fringe meeting. There were some great online campaigning tips discussed, and hopefully many of them will be used on the national party website for future elections. For obvious reasons, I’m not going to detail those tips here 🙂 It was a pleasure to see the party demonstrating how innovative it can be. It was also great to hear the panellists praising LibDem Blogs, for which we all remain very grateful to Ryan.

On Sunday, I was in the hall for Ming’s speech. His call for the party to be more professional was particularly appropriate, coming as it did after moments the microphone of the man introducing him failed. It was a solid, encouraging speech. My personal highlight was when Ming rightly complained about the over-centralisation of governance in Britain:

“It is absurd that if a hospital operation goes wrong the first democratically elected person in the chain of responsibility is the Secretary of State for Health.”

On the other side of the hall, I saw that David Howarth, who was gesticulating at Chris Huhne, had noticed the same thing as me: that this was lifted straight from the speeches Huhne gave throughout the leadership election. It remains an important point and it’s good to see Ming taking on board some of the issues that we raised in the contest.

(Ironically, of course, while it applied to Chris Huhne’s hospital in Eastleigh, it doesn’t apply to Ming’s in Edinburgh – thanks to devolution, the situation is marginally less centralised and the line of accounability leads to the Health Minister in the Scottish Executive.)

Much of the talk around conference was on Ming’s first reshuffle, which has now begun, with many delegates playing fantasy shadow cabinet (James has a tip for Michael Moore’s replacement at defence). Nothing particularly surprising in the appointments so far. One frontbencher who didn’t back Ming during the leadership election confided in me on Saturday night that, as you’d expect, they were waiting to see how Ming would reward the other candidates’ backers. The MP in question, who will remain nameless, had also decided to turn down their current role if offered it again.

All in all, despite some organisational issues and a pretty sparse agenda, conference was good fun. Caught up with friends, and met some new people, including various bloggers. Hopefully I’ll be able to afford (in both time and money) Brighton conference in the autumn.

One Response

  1. 1

    I’m sure given this level of reporting we can arrange a lib dem blogs bursary to allow you to go clubbing, sorry, conferencing in brighton.

    reshuffle looks uninspiring so far. can julia be on the games and in charge of our pennies at the same time?