Last edited 20 Jan 2021

Lib Dem conference 2013

Snapdragon Consulting's Rebekah Paczek casts a critical eye over the political scene and assesses what the Lib Dems had to say at their party conference.

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It seems the Lib Dems have given up entirely on trying to convince the general population that they could actually form a government on their own. This leaves them with the utterly compelling argument that they make any other governing party less bad. ”Vote for us because we make the Tories a bit less nasty and Labour a bit less, well, just a bit less Labour.”

That said, the Lib Dems are the only party left who actually use Conference as a means of setting policy. They actually vote on motions which then get included in the manifesto. Ahhh, how the Labour and Conservative activists must look back nostalgically to the days when they were so democratic.

There was much discussion on how if it wasn’t for Clegg and his Cleggites (which no longer includes Sarah Teather, she definitely didn’t stand down because she was at risk of losing her seat, or because she was reshuffled out of a job, I’m not sure why anyone would suggest such a thing) then the UK would probably have spontaneously combusted by now.

Vince Cable flirted with trying to upstage Clegg by playing a game of ‘will he, won’t he’ when he seemed to be about to boycott the debate on the economy then at the last minute, just as all the party guests thought the celebrity star turn wasn’t going to turn up, in he waltzed to maximise the excitement factor. In doing so he leant Clegg his moral, and not inconsiderable party, support.

Andrew Neil had a fun time interviewing Paddy Ashdown who was apparently ‘dissing’ something of vague importance. Paddy is now back at the helm as the campaign coordinator for the General Election 2015. Some would say that looking so far back to a leader of yesteryear is not a positive sign for the future of the party…

On Communities, Local Government and Housing, Clegg asserted that he understood and ‘genuinely’ shared the ‘anger… about the failure of our country to build more houses and particularly more affordable housing.’ Note that he blames the country for failing not government policy. He should perhaps ask how many of the Lib Dem councils across the country have rejected housing developments since he has been in government.

The Conference passed a motion which would, if it came into law, allow Councils to swap the capital allowances they are given to build more homes. Obviously, the fact that most councils do not seem to want to build their own homes and certainly do not have the skills or capacity in-house to do so is irrelevant. Why let reality get in the way of a good policy? At the same time, Clegg suffered a defeat as Conference voted to review and ultimately scrap the bedroom tax. Perhaps they should start with making Clegg and any other politicians with more than one home pay additional tax per bedroom

Many of the fringe events concentrated on housing and affordable housing, mainly the bedroom tax again which is gaining momentum as the bat with which to hit the government. Although, the Labour Party, being the party of opposition, seem to have singularly failed to take advantage of it...

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