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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 October 2007, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Andrew's Notebook
Andrew Neil's personal take on where the parties stand.

Andrew Neil
Every day of our special Conference coverage, Andrew will give his assessment of how things are going, followed by a discussion with two of our guests.

As he puts it: "you'll have an uninformed commentator, and then two informed ones!"

You can see them every lunchtime on BBC2, and each day's entry will be archived below.

"Never has such responsibility been placed on such young shoulders"
Conservatives, Day Three

Andrew Neil

Andrew sees the end-of-conference Tories as a party in good heart: united, with policies that people are taking notice of.

But with the Conservatives stuck in the low 30s in the polls, what does today's speech from Mr Cameron need to deliver?

Andrew considers how never in the history of the party has such responsibility been placed on such young shoulders.

He then looks back over the conference season with with Michael White of The Guardian and Matthew D'Ancona of The Spectator.

"They want us to think they're just like us"
Conservatives, Day Two

Andrew Neil

Nowadays, politicians on the left and the right are always telling us that it's where you're going that matters, not where you're from.

Yet in their speeches, they keep telling us where they themselves come from - and the narrative always involves a humble background.

For some, this involves being economical with the truth.

Andrew discusses this and other issues with Michael White of The Guardian and Matthew D'Ancona of The Spectator.

"The most successful British political machine ever could be consigned to history"
Conservatives, Day One

Andrew Neil

Andrew considers the opinion polls and looks at what would happen if they were right and Labour won the next election by a landslide.

The most successful British political machine ever could be consigned to history.

With no natural heir apparent to David Cameron, the Conservatives would most likely divide into fighting and factions from which they might not survive.

If Gordon Brown loses, the Labour Party will still survive; if Cameron loses by a landslide, the unthinkable could happen: the end of the British Conservative party as we have known it.

"A party of wimps and a cabinet of pygmies"
Labour, Day Four

Andrew Neil

The official line may be "Not Flash, just Gordon", but Andrew wonders whether a "no spin" image is the biggest spin of all.

He asks how much of the conference speeches by Gordon Brown and Jack Straw could have come from editorials in The Daily Mail and portrays Labour as "pinching Tory policies".

With no heir apparent and no-one rocking the boat, Andrew speculates on what we can expect from "a party of wimps and a cabinet of pigmies".

He rounds up by remarking that the most left wing speech of the week was given by Quentin Davies, the Conservative defector.

He's then joined as before by pundits and pals of the programme Kevin Maguire of The Mirror and Danny Finkelstein of The Times.

"The dogs that didn't bark"
Labour, Day Three

Andrew Neil

Most conference speeches are like a Chinese meal: within a couple of hours, you forget you've had one.

So for Day Three of Andrew's Notebook, he goes back to take a more critical look at Gordon Brown's speech as leader to ask how much of it was hot air.

He's then joined again by pundits and pals of the programme Kevin Maguire of The Mirror and Danny Finkelstein of The Times.

"For Gordon Brown, this could be as good as it gets"
Labour, Day Two

Gordon Brown and Andrew Neil

Andrew looks around him and finds he is not at a Labour party conference, but rather a Gordon Brown one-man show by the seaside.

With cabinet ministers told bluntly "this is not your show, it's Gordon's", no controversy, the unions telling us "we have no choice" but to capitulate, and cabinet ministers' speeches restricted to seven minutes, Andrew wonders why we're all here.

At this conference, no important decisions will be taken nor principles established - for Gordon Brown, this could be as good as it gets.

Andrew is joined again by Kevin Maguire of The Mirror and Danny Finkelstein of The Times, who describes the conference as "like sex with the climax first".

"Gordon Brown (Prime Minister, UK 2007-2007)"
Labour, Day One

Labour Party mugs

On the first day of the Labour party conference 2007, Andrew takes a look at the pros and cons for Gordon Brown of calling a general election this year.

He looks at historical precedents for PMs who have chosen to call an early election while performing well in the polls, only to find themselves coming unstuck by events.

Andrew then discusses the issue with Danny Finkelstein of The Times and Kevin Maguire of The Mirror.

"It seems that anybody who had an idea got it thrown into the policy pot"
Lib Dems, Day Three

Andrew Neil

Andrew considers the social conscience of the Liberal Democrats, and the way in which Sir Menzies has made the gap between rich and poor part of his agenda.

The Liberals have played a big part in the welfare state; while poverty is discussed in Brighton, do the Lib Dems have a convincing theme? Andrew talks to delegates and David Laws and asks - can we see the beginning of a Beveridge Report for the broken society?

He is joined again by former Lib Dems communications director Ollie Grender and Brendan Carlin of The Daily Telegraph.

"If it looks like a hustings and sounds like a hustings..."
Lib Dems, Day Two

Ollie Grender & Brendan Carlin

With Northern Rock dominating the headlines, most of the newspaper coverage of the Lib Dem conference has focussed on the putative potential leadership challenge.

Andrew looks at the rising stars Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne and tries to find out who's more popular among conference delegates.

He is then joined by former Lib Dems communications director Ollie Grender and Brendan Carlin of The Daily Telegraph.

"Since 2005, not much has gone right"
Lib Dems, Day One

Andrew Neil

Andrew kicks off by looking back at the changing fortunes of the Liberal Democrats, and considering the current controversy about leader Menzies Campbell, and whether his age is a factor.

He is then joined by former Lib Dems communications director Ollie Grender and Michael White of The Guardian.

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