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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
Kennedy speech: Your reaction
The "faded and jaded" Tories are the party of yesteryear, said Charles Kennedy at the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton.

Kennedy said that British politics is "up for grabs" and the Lib Dems can break away from their historical third position and use the serious chance to become the real opposition party.

He repeated calls for an early referendum on the euro and for a new system of proportional voting in general elections.

The most trusted of all three leaders according to the polls, Charles Kennedy's speech is timed when the Lib Dems are enjoying their biggest ever successes, though his leadership style has been criticised for being too laid back.

What do you think of Charles Kennedy's speech? Could you see the Lib Dems becoming the opposition over the Tories?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

I like Charles Kennedy and I thought his speech was excellent. The policies of his party are straightforward and sensible. However, in opposition it is easy to have good intentions and to promise policies that will address the needs of society as a whole. All parties in oppostion do this. The reality of actually being in office is very different. Not 'pandering' to big business, and not cuddling up to media empires can spell the rapid demise of your administration! That's modern politics, I'm afraid.
Andy, UK

The only way the Lib Dems will gain power at Westminster will be if the electoral system is reformed

Robert, UK
I will be a first-time voter at the next general election and despite agreeing with the Lib Dem policies, I will vote Labour because my constituency is fought between Labour and the Conservatives and I don't want the Tories back. The only way the Lib Dems will gain power at Westminster will be if the electoral system is reformed so that a vote for the Lib Dems in a seat such as mine will not be wasted.
Robert, UK

The pictures told the real story. There were pitifully few delegates at the Liberal party conference. Most were even older than the Conservatives. They remain even more self-consciously obsessed with their morality than the new Labourites. They are, as they have always been, a posturing irrelevance.
Michael S, UK

Kennedy is serious while relaxed and informal. His party presents a clear, thought-through agenda while the Tories have lost their way.
Paul, UK

All Charles Kennedy tries to do is take up a different stance on everything to the two main parties

Rod, UK
The Lib Dems are so preoccupied with electoral reform. Who in the country cares about the system used to elect the government? All Charles Kennedy tries to do is take up a different stance on everything to the two main parties. And paying more income tax? Why not? Let's all waste some more money on badly organised services in desperate need of reform!!!!
Rod, UK

We need a government that actually cares about society, something the Tories never did and something that Labour has stopped doing. The Liberals are the only party that does not pander to big business and sacrifice our lives and rights on the altar of lobbying.
Vish, UK

The Lib Dems are the only party with good, fresh ideas rather than the stagnate politics of the Tories and Labour. Also living in Scotland and being a student I don't have to pay tuition fees, something which the Lib Dems made happen.
Paul Murtagh, Scotland

A country gets the government it deserves

James G, UK
I find it difficult to understand people who simply dismiss the Lib Dems as unworthy of government because they have never experienced power before. May I point out neither had Tony Blair or most of his cabinet. It seems to me that a country gets the government it deserves and people who excuse voting for Labour or the Conservatives because they have 'no real experience of power' will get what they deserve.
James G, UK

The Lib Dems are a trap waiting for people to fall into. Their policies will cost us money, make no mistake about that. They won't work, because they've nearly all been tried before in some way or another. As far as opposition is concerned, they don't seem to have a clear idea who to oppose or why at any given time, Labour or Conservative.
Ronald King, England

If he wants to be leader of the official opposition in the UK, he needs to start opposing the government and not the opposition (!?). As long as he is selling himself as the best runner up, he'll never be a winner.
Richard, Wales, UK

I will be a first time voter in the next election and believe the Lib Dems are the only party who are really in touch with issues that I find important. The Tories are too stuck with looking to the past and New Labour are so desperate to copy the Bush administration that they've forgotten their roots. Charles Kennedy and his party are like a breath of fresh wind.
Megan, England

They need to mimic some of New Labour's marketing ideas

Peter, England
Charles Kennedy has some very interesting ideas, but lacks the dynamism to take advantage of the current weakness of the Tory party. The Lib Dems have constantly failed to take advantage of internal Tory division, and the public's disillusionment with New Labour. Kennedy is a man of integrity, but it will take more than this to make the Lib Dems the opposition. It pains me to say it, but I think they need to mimic some of New Labour's marketing ideas and place more emphasis on getting their message across rather than just letting the policies speak for themselves.
Peter, England

I like his style and more importantly he's got my vote. I am no longer a Blairite!
Freddy, UK

I am sure his speech was the best that he could deliver. Good speeches, common sense, great ideas and a jovial leader can be achieved easily when you are not in power. Playing at being important is much more fun than being given importance.
RC Robjohn, UK

New Labour is sending public persuasion to the right

Phillip Holley, UK
Well, he's right about them being the only opposition to Labour, the trouble is that they are to the left of New Labour and the mess that New Labour is mismanaging is sending the public persuasion to the right. Trouble is, the Tories are heading left as fast as they can manage and the only party with a right bias is the BNP who are of course, venomous extremists.
Phillip Holley, UK

Kennedy is certainly more charismatic than Iain Duncan-Who? but the record of the Lib Dems in local government is variable and that's the only real criteria we have for judging them. Yes, they can move forward but any changes are not going to be rapid and cataclysmic. I'm expecting the turnout at the next election to be even lower than last, the sign of a developing trend.
Darren Stephens, UK

The country is crying out for political leadership that speaks the truth about the present world situation. All Kennedy offers are weasel words which can be understood in many ways. Do we really a third party which says much same thing as the other main parties? We need a party that speaks social and environmental justice, prepared to speak out in the strongest language again the greediest and most powerful. A revamped Green party could possibly do the job.
Sinna Mani, UK

The loss of the distinct Liberal Democrat identity would be sad

Mike Moreton, UK
The only way to replace the Conservative party is to become it. The "Big Two" follow public opinion, and choose the policies they think will get them elected. Smaller parties alone have the possibility to influence public opinion. As a supporter of liberal ideas, I think the loss of the distinct Liberal Democrat identity would be a sad day for the country.
Mike Moreton, UK

I'm not impressed - of course Kennedy would make such a speech at a party conference. But maybe he should wait and see what the Tories do in their policy review before writing them off.
Loz, UK

The Liberal Democrats are pretending to be important again.
Eamonn, UK

They deserve to have a chance and I believe they can bring life back to the political system diseased by spin, sleaze and arrogance.
Harry, UK

If Scotland did gain independence, Charles Kennedy would be redundant

Philip Shorter, England
There doesn't seem to much difference between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour backbenchers, so how can the Liberal Democrats be the 'real' opposition? Also, if Scotland did gain independence, Charles Kennedy would then be redundant as a potential PM for Britain.
Philip Shorter, England

He is the only leader in the UK who is talking sense.
Rayv, Netherlands

The Tories' worst result in a century was still three times better than the Lib Dems' best. The Tories have since gained the largest share of the vote in the last European and local elections - essentially winning them. So clearly the Lib Dems have a huge task ahead of them if they want to pretend to be the official opposition.
Kenneth Hall, UK

Charles Kennedy is a joke

Julian, UK
Charles Kennedy is a joke. His policies are the dreams of a man and party that will never have power: Easy to spout and never to be implemented. They are also lunatic policies so God help us all if they do get in. There's more chance of Saddam sending President Bush a love letter than the Liberal Democrats taking any leadership role in British politics. Dream on Charlie boy.
Julian, UK

The Lib Dems have always seemed weak compared to Labour and the Conservatives. However, the Tories have consumed themselves through greed, intransigence and lies; have failed to adapt to a changing political landscape and are far from regaining the trust of the electorate. The Labour party appear arrogant and look to be following the Tories down the same path. In the face of these two political 'giants' the Lib Dems appear an increasingly attractive proposition.
Chris, England

I'd like to give them a chance

Peter Finch, England
I have never lived under a Liberal government, and I'd like to give them a chance. There are some fundamental differences they can make for the good. They appear uncorrupted by the power of government (as did Tony when he got elected) so they will be getting my vote in the next election. The Tories have proved themselves untrustworthy and the same for New Labour.
Peter Finch, England

The Lib Dems will no doubt come out with the same spiel about being the real opposition and that they can take the fight to President Blair. But Charles Kennedy is uncharismatic, dull and often seems like a schoolboy way out his depth. If the Lib Dems want to move forward I don't think he can stay. I do agree, however, on an early referendum on the euro. At least that way we can get the No vote the country needs and get on with our lives.
Ian Phillipson, UK

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