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Last Updated: Monday, 29 September, 2003, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Lib Dems: Party of the future?
Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has delivered a stinging attack on the government in his keynote speech at the party conference in Brighton on Thursday.

Mr Kennedy accused a 'small clique' around Tony Blair of manipulating and misleading the country into war.

His speech came at the end of a conference buoyed by last week's Brent East by-election victory and the party's best poll ratings for 14 years, just two points behind the Tories on 28 percent.

He told his party's annual conference in Brighton that the Labour government was "shop soiled" and the Lib Dems were the party of the future.

What did you think of Charles Kennedy's conference speech? Do you agree that the Lib Dems are the party of the future?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

I would never have given the Lib Dems the time of day until this year
Tarik, UK
I would never have given the Lib Dems the time of day until this year. New Labour is essentially the Tories. The Lib Dems stood their ground and were opposed to the war with Iraq. The Tories just rubber-stamp everything that Blair does. When Blair is forced to resign, he would make a better leader for the Tories than IDS. Good luck to the Lib Dems - it would be good to see CK have more presence and air of authority than he currently has.
Tarik, UK

All the Lib Dems have proved this week is that they have moved from weak Left to loony Left. Red Kennedy isn't an alternative to Tony Blair - he's his echo. The Lib Dems want drugs legalised, higher taxes, weaker asylum rules, fewer burglars in prison and an end to our national currency. How can anyone take them seriously?
Andy Stephenson, UK

I wonder where we would be if Mr Kennedy and his party had to make decisions about the safety and security of our country. Would they wait for a "smoking gun" to show up in London or Edinburgh before they took note and some action? We can't afford to sit around waiting for the likes of Mr Kennedy to find a "smoking gun"
I want to know what he would have done if he had been PM
Brendan Hynes, Scotland, UK

Charles Kennedy and his party are the ultimate bandwagon politicians. He says consult and persuade - what this actually means is consult and follow what is ever the vote winner whether it is good for the country or not. God help us if they ever get into power. If Mr. Kennedy was our present PM we still would not have found any WMD but would still have the worst WMD in place, Saddam Hussein.
Chris, England

If Kennedy is so anti-war, why did he change his mind when it started? And why is he not speaking at the anti-war rally on Saturday like he did at the one in February? Is it because this one will be smaller? Is it because the Lib Dems are a popularist party?
Lucy, Chester, UK

A referendum on abolishing the monarchy? YES! More liberal drug laws? YES! Higher taxes for middle-income earners? NO NO NO NO NO! Charles Kennedy as PM? NO NO NO NO NO!
Rob, UK

Blair has the strength of character required for a Prime Minister, Kennedy/IDS don't
Stephen R, UK
The Lib Dems (and the Tories) would do a lot worse than Labour - even though Labour could do better than they are in some areas. That the Lib Dems blow with the wind of public opinion is no commendation. War in Iraq was inevitable, with or without the UK, and the prospects for Iraq and the future of the UN are actually better for our having supported the US. By doing this even against public opinion Blair was clearly doing what he believed to be right. Kennedy (and IDS) would have gone with public opinion even if that was wrong. Blair has the strength of character required for a Prime Minister, Kennedy/IDS don't.
Stephen R, UK

It's not a case, as Mikki Betz says, of "whether the Lib Dems can actually deliver" but whether the electorate can. If people could be bothered to act and vote for a party with both strong liberal and co-operative values then we may just end up with a government that listens to the UK population.
Richard Mourant, United Kingdom

I have not followed the Lib Dem's policies closely enough to comment on whether they are a credible alternative or not but they do seem to be a party who are more upfront and honest than the others. However, whatever their successes in subsequent elections may be I do not believe that Charles Kennedy is Prime Minister material as I think he lacks real presence. If the Lib Dems want to be considered as a real alternative to Labour then they need a leader with a little more style.
Sara Dawson, UK

How can Charles Kennedy claim to be in opposition to Labour and keep a straight face? I live in Scotland and we wouldn't have a Labour government here if it wasn't for the Liberals keeping them in power. I bet they'd do the same in Westminster if they had the chance too.
Tom, Scotland

Charles Kennedy is the only party leader who is touch with the people. His down to Earth attitude is refreshing and long over due.
My only concern with the Liberals is their pro EU issue.
Doug, UK

It makes a change to hear a coherent speech hammering home New Labour's hopeless failure to run the country properly
Philip Cleveland, UK
My opposition to the EU means that I could never align with the Lib Dems. However, it makes a change to hear a coherent speech hammering home New Labour's hopeless failure to run the country properly. The Tories had better wake up fast if they don't want to become the third party in UK politics.
Philip Cleveland, UK

Liberal revivals come and Liberal revivals go! But they never succeed.
Rosa Pammer, UK

It is utter nonsense for activists of the other political parties (of which I am one) to criticise the Lib Dems as "trying to be all things to all men". Charles Kennedy understands that distinctions between left and right wing principals are virtually irrelevant in modern society; common sense and the desire to do what is right are far more important.
Richard, UK

The only thing I can say is that they are suffering from delusions of grandeur. Kennedy puffs his chest out and talks about populist ideals when the actual policies he espouses would do tremendous damage to the country. The Lib Dems are to the left of the Labour Party, just as most of the modern world is leaving those outdated high-tax and high-spend policies behind.
Brace Stevens, Isle of Man

Finally a party who are taking notice of what the majority of the country are concerned about. The Conservatives are dead, long live the Liberals.
Dominic Elliott Smith, UK

They've just won Brent East - WOW. If CK thinks his party is seen as credible he can think again. The Liberals are nothing more than a protest vote to the British people. They don't stand for anything, and they send out mixed messages on all issues.
Leon, UK

I believe the next general election will be a very close run thing between all three major parties
C J Hendrick, UK
Anyone can see that having a Labour government has been a disaster both at home and abroad. Kennedy seems to be getting his act together and capitalises well on Labour's mismanagement of our country. I believe the next general election will be a very close run thing between all three major parties. I also believe that the turnout will be huge and that could well run in Kennedy's favour. Too close to call at the moment though.
C J Hendrick, UK

Funny how a few swing votes makes politicians listen to the common people. Why has it taken so long for someone to answer back to the Government? Roll on the next general election.
Dave, Scotland

Whilst Kennedy and the Lib Dems may well have cynically hitched themselves to the anti-war banner and so achieved a small measure of electoral success they cannot continue to try to pretend to be all things to all men. Sooner or later if they wish to govern this country then they will have to stop pretending to be both right and left wing at the same time and come up with some actual policies. Then we can see if they are electable to government or not.
Matt, UK

I am impressed with the speech but it is always a question of whether the Lib Dems can actually deliver. I am prepared to give them a chance as the alternatives are not an option, at all! Let's give them a chance....things can only get better! Or, so I hope.
Mikki Betz, UK

Excellent! A strong third political party can only be good for British democracy.
Dan, UK

I think Charles Kennedy has hit the nail right on the head. The Liberal Democrats ARE the only credible major opposition to the Labour Party. The sooner Tony Blair realises that he is fighting a losing battle, the better.
David, Scotland, UK

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