James Forsyth

Keeping the flame alive | 21 September 2010

Keeping the flame alive | 21 September 2010
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In the early hours of this morning, Lib Dem conference looked like any other party conference. A throng of people—mostly men in suits—standing around outside the conference hotel having come from the various media parties. Indeed, it is surprisingly hard to tell the difference between Lib Dem conference and the others now. There are a large number of lobbyists here and a whole host of corporate types.


But there are some activists trying to keep the flame of the traditional Lib Dem conference alive. Julian Glover has a lovely story over at Comment is Free about what happened after Nick Clegg’s speech yesterday:

“In the hall yesterday evening, where the deputy prime minister had just spoken, the first Liberal leader in office for 65 years, 20 or 30 party members gathered. They began, with great seriousness and passion, to debate an issue of remarkable obscurity: should members who come to conference on day passes be allowed to speak in debates? The subject itself was less important than the manner in which the party debated it, doggedly and democratically and untainted by office.

A couple of people who had not been in the hall to hear Clegg even came in for the debate on membership rights, a sort of stoic resistance to the cult of leadership which has overtaken two of Britain's political parties and is threatening a third. One man lugged a laptop to the podium, from which moments before Clegg had spoken, and then demanded that the lights in the hall be dimmed so he could read from it. Everyone seemed to care very much about the outcome, but no one could agree what it should be.”