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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
Lib Dem conference at-a-glance
All you need to know about day two of the Liberal Democrat conference 2006:


0900 Policy motion: Clean and ethical investment

0930 Presentation: Scottish Liberal Democrats

0955 Speech: Chris Huhne, environment spokesman

1015 Setting small business free

1045 Tax debate

1415 Making the climate change switch: a micro solution to a macro problem

1500 Health Q&A - Steve Webb MP

1540 Charles Kennedy, former party leader

1600 Waste management motion

1630 Your community, your choice - English local government policy paper


Liberal Democrats love Charles Kennedy - but do they think he is ready for a comeback? Delegates give their reaction to his speech.

Sir Menzies Campbell has won a crunch vote on his tax plans.

Charles Kennedy gets a standing ovation as he tells the Liberal Democrats' conference the best is yet to come.

Ex-Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown has said the European Union is failing.

Analysis: Nick Assinder examines the message to the party in Charles Kennedy's big comeback speech.

Analysis: Nick Assinder on why it was so important for Sir Menzies Campbell to have won his tax vote test.

On Monday senior Liberal Democrats urged the party's leadership to consider backing the legalisation of all drugs.


Is this more evidence of Lib Dem double talk? The Guardian's fringe meeting descended into confusion when alien voices started coming through the speaker system. "It's next year's fringe meeting," quipped chairman Simon Hoggart. Others suspected a rival fringe event was trying to hijack the airwaves. Others thought there were crossed wires with a mobile phone conversation - no wonder the Lib Dems favour using phone tap evidence in court.
Sir Menzies Campbell cardboard cut-out
Party activists tell Sir Menzies what they think of him

"Those of us who have been in leadership contests realise there are some basics in Lib Dem politics that we will defend to the last," environment spokesman Chris Huhne told The Independent's fringe meeting. So what was he talking about PR, civil liberties, green taxes? No, he was referring to the ritual that Simon Hughes is late for conference meetings. Delegates seemed happy enough the party president's excuse - he had had to attend the women's reception.

The Lib Dems clearly have a deep sense of irony. Just eight months after their leader stepped down because of his drink problem, conference delegates are being given free linen bags with special pouches for bottles of wine.

Not only that, but within minutes of Mr Kennedy's big speech, Sir Menzies and campaigns chief Ed Davey will be heading off for a photo opportunity at a non-alcoholic juice bar...

There is a life-sized cardboard cut out of Sir Menzies standing in one of the conference centre bars, covered from head to foot in yellow Post It notes containing questions for the leader. Sample: "What did you do in the Great War?" Or - our favourite - "There is no try, only do," signed "Yoda".

Mr Kennedy's helpers were doing their best to increase the sense of anticipation ahead of his big speech by refusing to brief journalists on its likely contents. "You will have to hope your shorthand is up to it," we were told. But fears the former leader had gone AWOL after failing to show up for a scheduled appearance at a fringe meeting proved wide of the mark. He had never intended to be at the meeting in the first place, his office insisted, blaming the organisers.


"Charles Kennedy is not our next leader", writes Jonathan Calder, of Liberal England, on The Guardian's Comment is Free blog. It was not the drink that did for Mr Kennedy, who is due to address conference later on Tuesday, it was policy drift, argues Mr Calder. On his own blog, he writes about home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg who is asking party activists to suggest laws that should be scrapped.

His promise of a Great Repeal Act seems to have gone down well with Lib Dem bloggers, with Mr Clegg judged by many to have been Monday's biggest hit.

Over on Liberal Review's Apollo blog there is an interview with Treasury Spokesman Vince Cable, in which he claims the party's green tax proposals will not hit "Mondeo man" as it only applies to new cars. The plan is to move eventually to road user pricing, adds Mr Cable - "but given the record on government computerisation projects, we cannot expect to have the infrastructure for road user pricing in place in the near future".

The blog adds: "The feeling around conference is pretty good. We haven't had a great year, to put it mildly and yet we are still north of 20% in the polls. The rising generation in the parliamentary party is very impressive. If we unite around the income tax cut, who knows how far we can go."

Tuesday is a "biggie", notes Lynne Featherstone, flagging up Charles Kennedy's conference comeback speech.

"Usually they say only two things are certain in life - death and taxes. At the Lib Dem conference it's Charlie and taxes!," she says.


Sir Menzies Campbell and young Lib Dem women
Sir Menzies strides out with some leading Lib Dem women


The best is yet to come, Charles Kennedy.

I thought it was a farewell speech from a leader who is leaving the scene, Lord Ashdown.

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