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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 06:40 GMT 07:40 UK
Lib Dem conference at-a-glance
All you need to know about day one of the Liberal Democrat conference 2006:


The Lib Dems must put "substance over symbolism", says Sir Menzies Campbell ahead of the tax debate.

Analysis: The BBC News website's Nick Assinder says Sir Menzies has passed the Arctic Monkeys test.

Disputes about what is "tough" or "soft" must stop dominating debate over law and order, says Liberal Democrat home affairs chief Nick Clegg.

Cash incentives are being offered to local Liberal Democrat parties who recruit women and people from ethnic minorities to stand for election.

Senior Liberal Democrats have urged the party's leadership to consider backing the legalisation of all drugs.

Lib Dems are urged to challenge Labour and Tories in their heartland seats by engaging more people in politics through new technology.

Foreign affairs spokesman Michael Moore accused Tony Blair of putting the UK "at odds" thanks to an "illegal" war in Iraq and a "legacy of neglect" in Afghanistan. through new technology.

An Oxford city councillor has scooped the inagural Liberal Democrat blog of the year award.

Delegates backed a wide-ranging motion calling for more flexible working and greater support in marriage breakdown.

Sir Menzies Campbell has hailed his "green" tax proposals as the "most radical ever from any major UK political party".


Sir Menzies Campbell has clearly been talking up his party's success so much since he became leader that he's just got carried away with it all. In a questions session on the conference platform, he pointed to the Dunfermline & West Fife and Bromley & Chislehurst by-elections. "We won in both of those places because we had the right candidates with the right campaigns," he said. The trouble is the Lib Dems came 633 votes short of victory in Bromley - a "moral victory" no doubt...

Never mind green taxes and 50p top rates, the real issue for many in Brighton is: Who will get the longest standing ovation Charles or Ming? Mr Kennedy is still very popular with Lib Dem activists and is sure to get a rousing reception when he addresses conference on Tuesday. Reports loyal "Ming-ers" will be positioned around the hall on Thursday, after Ming's big speech, to keep the cheering going were laughed off by the leader's right hand man Norman Lamb. "Ming is completely relaxed about the subject of ovations," said Mr Lamb, while the man himself assured reporters on Sunday "there will be no clapometers".

No clapometers, perhaps, but what other schemes are being cooked-up by the Lib Dem press office? Can it really be a coincidence that as soon as reformed boozer Charles Kennedy finishes his speech on Tuesday, Sir Menzies and Ed Davey will be heading off for a photo opportunity at a non-alcoholic juice bar...

Oxford councillor Stephen Tall was so overcome with emotion at winning the first Lib Dem "blog of the year" contest he managed to break the trophy, within seconds of being presented it by self-styled "Queen of the blogs" Lynne Featherstone MP ("I warned him it was a bit fragile," explained a Lib Dem person later). Mr Tall's A Liberal Goes A Long Way blog was praised by the judges for its readable and entertaining style and the city councillor has already ensured the awards' immortality by dubbing them the Botys.

Conservative A-lister Iain Dale was much in evidence at the same event, handing out copies of his new Guide To Political Blogging in the UK from a large cardboard box. The event was going to be a private affair until Iain wrote an item about being refused entry by Lib Dem "control freaks". The resulting publicity ensured the awards ceremony was packed out with journalists. Unfortunately, it was too late to book a bigger room and things quickly began to feel a little tropical. Lib Dem internet guru Mark Pack is promising air conditioning next year.


The Lib Dem blogosphere is buzzing with talk of Sunday's award ceremony, with everyone from the authoritative Liberal Voice to the frankly bizarre "Millennium Dome" elephant blog, heaping praise and congratulations on winner Stephen Tall.

The man himself has a swipe at the media's obsession with Sir Menzies Campbell's leadership.

"I travelled down by train to conference today [Sunday], together with three fellow Lib Dems. The issues we discussed ranged widely: the 50p debate, land value tax v local income tax, replacing Trident, the size of school sixth forms, compulsory voting, waste recycling. Ming's leadership wasn't mentioned once," he writes.

In any case, he adds, Sir Menzies is looking a lot more relaxed on TV these days.

He also reports back from a fringe meeting on immigration.

Lynne Featherstone is more sanguine about the leadership question, telling readers of her blog: "Every conference is a test of leadership."

"Ming will do a good job. He is very charming, intelligent and oozes integrity from every pore - but there's no doubt that all eyes will be upon him. That's leadership!," she adds.

Peter Black avoids the leadership question altogether, and after congratulating Mr Wall, dives straight in with a discussion of housing policy, following on from Sunday night's Shelter fringe meeting.

Meanwhile, just about everybody is webcasting, including Mr Tall, Ms Featherstone, home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg and even party leader Sir Menzies Campbell.


Sir Menzies starts an 8km run in Brighton
Ex-Olympic athlete Sir Menzies helps start an 8km run in Brighton as his party gathered there on Sunday


"It's not a bribe, it's an incentive"

Norman Lamb on plans to offer cash to local parties to recruit more women and ethnic candidates.

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