Someone claiming to be Nick Clegg (see picture), up near the front of the Lib Dem conference agenda brochure, has this to say:
“This is an exciting time to be a Liberal Democrat.”
Indeed it is. But he continues: “Our Make it Happen document, which we’re debating this week, outlines the Liberal Democrat vision for Britain ahead of the next General Election.”
Tesco is one of the conference sponsors, along with Microsoft and The Independent. Spot the odd one out.
“It sets out how our party is best placed to deliver real change for Britain.”
More supermarkets, computers and Johann Hari columns, presumably.
They certainly plough into into changing Britain with gusto – at 10am on Saturday morning there ‘consultative sessions’ on education (ages 5–19), natural environment and childcare.
The conference opens at 2.30pm.
The report from the campaign for gender balance on Sunday sounds temptingly Lib Dem, and there is some genuinely interesting stuff such as broadcasting court proceedings. The word federal appears an alarming amount.
There will be keynote addresses from party darlings Simon Hughes and Vince Cable and a cosy Q&A with glossy Nick Clegg on Sunday.
The build up to the Leader’s speech on Wednesday is suitably eclectic.
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We kick off with an Emergency Motion, which we can comfortably guarantee will be less of an emergency that the name would suggest, followed by Equality and Fairness in Mental Health Provision.
Then on to the riveting stuff of Reports and Q & A: Parliamentary Parties of the Liberal Democrats followed by a 20 minute presentation: Liberal Democrat Group on Newcastle City Council.
Respect, Consent and Personal Data, which frankly could mean a range of things, respect in particular having become totally detached from meaning since Tony Blair started using it, is the final warm up act.
The Leader’s speech is a big deal for the Lib Dems, not for the party faithful gathered in Bournemouth, but for the millions that will see it on the news or read about it the next day.
It is one of the few days of the year Nick Clegg is almost guaranteed fair coverage. At the start of the party conference season, some voters may even pay attention.
The fine members of the Federal Conference Committee adorn page four of the conference guide – they wear special turquoise badges so they should be easy to spot – but in case you have any trouble, here is a cut out and keep guide: