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banner Sunday, 23 September, 2001, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Kennedy declares 'business as usual'
Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy speaks to reporters as delegates gather in Bournemouth
Charles Kennedy: "Resolve" needed not "crusade"
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy stressed democracy must continue in the face of international terrorism, as his party's annual conference opened.

As delegates gathered in Bournemouth on Sunday, Mr Kennedy told reporters he had spoken to Prime Minister Tony Blair about the changing world situation and he argued the UK should not give the United States any "blank cheque" on military action.

We have yet to fashion a mindset to find an approach which begins to address the roots of such evil

Charles Kennedy
As the introduction of identity cards again hit the political agenda, the Lib Dem leader warned too that new anti-terrorism measures should be rushed through in the aftermath of the tragedy.

The conference agenda has been radically redrawn in the wake of the atrocities in the US and in a statement about the international situation on Monday, Mr Kennedy will say the right way to approach the crisis has yet to be found.

War wrong word

He is expected to say: "'War' is not the word, nor is crusade. Resolve is. We have yet to fashion a mindset to find an approach which begins to address the roots of such evil."

The party leadership has decided the conference will go ahead, although they say the arrangements will be reviewed on a "day by day basis".

Mr Kennedy recalled the example of Margaret Thatcher in carrying on "business as usual" after the IRA attack on the Conservative conference in Brighton.
Tony Blair visited four world capitals, including Washington, last week
Blair has spoken with Kennedy about the attack situation

He stressed the need for the right tone to be struck at the conference, which party officials say must not be triumphalist despite the party notching up its best general election showing since the 1920s in June.

That success, his party's determination to be an independent opposition in parliament and the new Conservative leadership provided a "window of opportunity" but the world situation had changed the circumstances.

Mr Kennedy has already said the United Nations should hold an "on going pivotal role" in any response to the attacks.

And while he praised the diplomatic efforts of Tony Blair and his support for a proportionate response to the atrocities, he said his party reserved its right to criticism if it thought the wrong action was taken.

Civil liberties worries

Reports that the government is preparing new counter-terrorism legislation may spark concern for civil liberties among some Lib Dem delegates at the conference.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said on Sunday a range of new measures was being considered, with compulsory identity cards on the agenda.

But Mr Blunkett stressed the potential loss of civil liberties had to be balanced by the need to ensure people could continue live freely.
Home Secretary David Blunkett
Blunkett says ID cards are being considered

"We must balance the interests of the state and the security that the state must provide for the citizens with the civil liberties that the citizens must enjoy as well."

Mr Kennedy also stressed the need for that balance and warned that legislation rushed through with cross-party support had often proved a mistake in the past.

While he said he had spoken to Mr Blair about the implications of the US attacks - and will again before his speech on Monday - Mr Kennedy said the prime minister had not put any suggested new measures to his party.

He praised the "measured" remarks of Mr Blunkett but emphasised his party had always been opposed to compulsory identity cards.

The Lib Dems would look at proposals and consider both the concerns about civil liberties and whether those new measures would work.

Some politicians, include Labour MP Tam Dalyell and former Conservative minister John Redwood, have been pressing for another emergency recall of Parliament to consider the implications of the attacks and their aftermath.

Mr Kennedy said he did not think was necessary now but stressed it might be needed as the situation continued to develop.

The BBC's Jo Coburn
"The whole direction of this weeks conference has changed"
The BBC's Shaun Ley
"There is very real unease in his party"
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