Skip to main content

The Conference Animal

I always wonder about "conference". Sometime speakers address the delegates as this singular creature: "Conference, we must blah blah blah". Talking about "conference" with no article is a sign of having been around for a while- being inside in the in crowd. But conference is a strange animal.

Sometimes, I am sure that the Party leadership must think that, if it is an animal, then it is a rather bad tempered one. In Blackpool, the proposal to inject more commercial disciplines into the post office was embarrassingly rejected by "conference", and this year there was the prospect that Ming Campbell would not be able to carry his tax proposals through the thickets and mires of the conference vote. In fact, from my arrival in Brighton it was fairly clear that the party was in good humour with the leadership, and although some we unhappy about scrapping the 50% tax proposal, it would be passed nonetheless.

Although it remains to be seen what Charles Kennedy will say in a few minutes, I would say that the atmosphere is pretty chirpy. There is none of the expectation of Bournemouth in 2004 nor the rancour of Blackpool in 2005. There is a very sober sense of the new political reality. The Tories are not dead, and this could hurt us. However there is also the sense of a party that is getting its act together. There is a much greater sense of intellectual coherence- and if the party still fails in my view to be coherent or Liberal enough, I sense the possibility of progress.

As "conference" is told to be sensible and serious, I find the mood in the bars is a little subdued, although there seem to be more younger members- many young women- which is nice. Meanwhile the more eccentric dressers seem to be given conference a miss this year. This is the straightest conference- in every sense of the word- that I have ever attended.

It therefore is no surprise that the party is happy to vote through changes on the tax side which are reasonably radical. I would have liked to see us scrap LIT and move towards a Land tax as a far better alternative to the current nonsense of the Council Tax, but you can't have everything.

I have hung around with my Scottish colleagues- always a pleasure to see old friends- although I notice my whisky consumption increases mightily in their company. The atmosphere amongst the Scottish Party is now one of real optimism for what might be possible at Holyrood in the 2008 election. Nicol speaks of being the largest party, and after the stunning success of Dunfermline, Labour must be looking to their laurels.

Perhaps the conference has turned into a pussycat.

Time to listen to Charles.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cicero ReDux

By Special Request of Baroness Scott and Mark Valladares... Cicero's Songs returns: bigger, longer and uncut.
October 1st marked the half way point of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.  Perhaps for many people such an anniversary is of passing interest at best.  Yet the conduct of the Estonian Presidency is reinforcing just how forward looking and innovative the most northerly of the Baltic States has become.
Estonia is a country that wants to live in the future, and with its openness and innovation, that future seems a lot closer than almost anywhere else in Europe
It is not that Estonia does not “do” the past: the picturesque cobbled streets of old Tallinn have tourist crowds a-plenty enjoying the mediaeval architecture in an Indian summer of sunshine and blue skies.  The real point is that Estonia refuses to be a prisoner of its past. Lennart Meri, Estonia’s President in the 1990s- who spent years of his childhood in Siberia- once told me that the country had to conc…

Trump and Brexit are the Pearl Harbor and the Fall of Singapore in Russia's Hybrid war against the West.

In December 1941, Imperial Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor. After the subsequent declaration of war, within three days, the Japanese had sunk the British warships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, and the rapid Japanese attack led to the surrender of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941 and the fall of Singapore only two months after Pearl Harbor. These were the opening blows in the long war of the Pacific that cost over 30,000,000 lives and was only ended with the detonations above Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"History doesn't often repeat itself, but it rhymes" is an aphorism attributed to Mark Twain, and in a way it seems quite appropriate when we survey the current scene. 

In 1941, Imperial Japan, knowing its own weakness, chose a non-conventional form of war, the surprise attack. Since the end of his first Presidential term, Vladimir Putin, knowing Russia's weakness, has also chosen non-conventional ways to promote his domestic powe…

The American National nightmare becomes a global nightmare

It is a basic contention of this blog that Donald J Trump is not fit for office.

A crooked real estate developer with a dubious past and highly questionable finances. he has systematically lied his way into financial or other advantage. His personal qualities include vulgarity, sexual assault allegations and fraudulent statements on almost every subject. 

He lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.

He has, of course, been under criminal investigation practically since before he took the oath of office. The indictment of some of closest advisers is just the beginning. His track record suggests that in due course there is no action he will not take, whether illegal or unconstitutional in order to derail his own inevitable impeachment and the indictments that must surely follow the successful investigation of Robert Mueller into his connections with Russia.

However, all of that is a matter for the American people. 

It is also a matter for the American people that Trump is cheating…