Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ten Reasons I'm so glad I'm not going to #LDConf in Liverpool

Unlike many of my dear friends, I am not headed off to Conference in Liverpool. This could be a good thing, for the following reasons:

1.  My liver is grateful that it's not going to be asked to process too much alcohol, particularly late at night.

2.  My bank balance will be in a significantly healthier state by the end of the week.

3. I get to see more of my darling husband and daughter on their long weekend off.

4.  If I look sad enough about missing my chance to be at the Blog of the Year Awards tonight when I'm shortlisted for 2 of them, it might just persuade my husband to cook me steak tonight in the way he alone can by way of compensation. Alternatively, I could just ditch the passive aggressive nonsense and ask him outright.

5.  I will be able to walk more than 5 paces without being asked for my vote by a Presidential Candidate or their entourage.

6.  I will be able to walk more than 5 paces without being harassed by some journalist desperate for me to criticise Nick and the actions of the Liberal Democrat ministers.

7. Last year, while not attending Conference, I watched the whole thing on BBC Parliament, tweeting my way through it all. This led to me being the most prolific user of the #LDConf hashtag on Twitter. Just to make it interesting, I have competition this year, from Rachel Olgeirsson.  Which of us will prevail?

8. The Lovely Elephant has written 3 - actually no, 4 -  blogposts this week and I have not had time to read one of them. This is a disgrace which I will now have time to remedy.

9.  I would be bound to push myself too hard and end up with some health related payback.

10. I can fully participate in International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Oh, darn! Who am I trying to kid? I want to be there so much it actually hurts. I want to catch up with friends and colleagues I haven't seen for way too long. I want to feel for myself the mood of the party. I want to go collect freebies from all the stalls in the exhibition. I want to go to the Glee Club and sing rude songs. I want to pull Lady Mark's beard. I want to help Jennie get her nominations for the Presidential ballot. I want to hear all the intrigue and gossip for myself. I have my spies in position of course, but they're so unreliable. They usually get so drunk that they either don't notice or forget to pass it on to me. I want to go to loads of training sessions and fringe meetings. I want to see Art Malik, whom I've had a crush on forever, but particularly since he played Zubin in Holby, at the Yes to AV Rally tonight. And, of course, probably most of all, I want to vote for the Equal Marriage motion on Tuesday.

There's no use whinging about it, though. Hopefully I'll get the chance to go next year, but in the meantime, I'll enjoy reading the accurate, unbiased reports in the newspapers of events in Liverpool, like the headline in today's Independent which suggests, erroneously, that Nick Clegg has said that we're not a party of the left.

What Nick actually said was this:
"There were some people, particularly around the height of the Iraq war, who gave up on the Labour Party and turned to the Liberal Democrats as a sort of left-wing conscience of the Labour Party.
"I totally understand that some of these people are not happy with what the Lib Dems are doing in coalition with the Conservatives. The Lib Dems never were and aren't a receptacle for left-wing dissatisfaction with the Labour Party. There is no future for that; there never was."
I get that. I wouldn't expect to be comfortable as a liberal in the left wing of the Labour Party because they're all about the collective, as seeing people as a big amorphous blob that they know best about. That's why they think it's ok to ostracise and persecute people who cross picket lines. I remember my husband telling me of an old man dying in a Scottish mining village in the 70s and nobody going to his funeral cos he'd worked in the General Strike in 1926.  That's anathema to any liberal, who would respect the right of that individual to dissent.

Similarly, the Labour lefty types aren't going to feel comfortable in a party which sees people as individuals in that way and wants to give them power, with the state being the servant rather than the master.

There are huge strands of opinion within the Liberal Democrats which can't be pigeon-holed into left and right wing. I don't believe, along with many of my colleagues, that the UK has any business having a nuclear deterrent - that makes me pro peace, not a leftie. I take a much more social liberal approach to the economy than others, but that's fine. What we can say is that we are an internationalist, humanitarian party whose core principles are freedom, fairness and decentralising power through all our policies.

Whenever I've been to Conference before, I've always felt like I've been in a different place than reported in the press. I suspect this one will be much, much worse for misrepresentation and inaccuracy. You can only pick up what's said in the hall on BBC Parliament. You can't get any flavour of the undercurrents. Being the geek I am, I'll still watch, though. I'll run a speech of the day feature and give you my impressions on what's going on.

Let's face it, most of the bloggers who are there aren't going to have the time to write about it - so I'll do what I can to report back. And, if you are there, and you think there's something I should know, or write about - tell me, before you have too much free wine.


Olga said...

I feel quite the same..

Stephen Glenn said...

Bob cooking steak as only he knows....even I'd miss the BOTYs for that...maybe.

No I still wish I was there.

KelvinKid said...

Well this is all very optimistic Caron, the problem is that Clegg is both garrulous and imprecise. Is he saying that everyone who disagrees with our Tory coalition should be in the Labour Party? Why try to stigmatise opposition in this way if that is not what he is implying?

What is abundantly clear to me is that what he calls ""an impeccably Liberal approach" to the NHS, education and welfare reform." actually involves tiny fragments of Lib Dem policy embedded in great wodges of the Tory manifesto. I don't think that's liberal at all and do you notice how he almost never says Liberal Democrat?

KelvinKid said...

I think I should make myself clearer. I think Clegg is trying to re-align the right. I don't think he's worried about driving out those in the Party who do not agree with him, even if they actually might be a sizeable chunk of the membership.

I don't think I'm paranoid. Richard Reeves is a Clegg advisor and he writes "Social liberals in the Lib Dems have a perfectly respectable set of political principles, but they are the principals of another party. ... "The old SDP-ers are in a liberal party as the result of an accident of history. ... Now, though, the party has a leader who straightforwardly rejects the social democrat label: "I am a liberal" is his response". ... Perhaps, after the next election, a wholesale realignment could take place?"

I think he's talking about us...


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