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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 19:35 GMT 20:35 UK
Lib Dem conference diary
By Nick Assinder
BBC News Online political correspondent in Bournemouth

Some of the highlights and low moments of the first full day of the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth.


Ever since his "bout of ill health" which made him miss Gordon Brown's budget and then deliver a speech to the party's Spring conference looking like he had just been dug up, Charles Kennedy has faced questions about his lifestyle - for which, read boozing.

His critics, both inside and outside the party, have been eager to gossip about what they claim was the real cause of the problem.

Charles Kennedy
Mr Kennedy will point to future opportunities
Mr Kennedy has always resisted getting drawn too much into his social habits, but has been a little more forthcoming in a series of interviews this week.

He insists he has to remember he is no longer 25 and has had to change his lifestyle.

Alcohol is down to near zero, he has cut down on the cigarettes and is doing plenty of exercise.

It all sounds a bit grim - presumably one of the consequences of the Liberal Democrats getting serious.


The party's foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell attacked the prime minister over his recent statements on the escalating violence in Iraq.

He won support from delegates when he declared: "Before a second war starts in Iraq, the prime minister should apologise for the first one."


Probably the delegate who was lucky enough to win the chance to put a question from the conference floor to leader Charles Kennedy on any subject he chose - and then failed to turn up.

It was a particularly pointed question about "The Orange Book" produced by the party's so-called Young Turks, led by Treasury spokesman David Laws, setting out a series of ideas contradicting party policy.

The missing questioner wanted to know if Mr Kennedy felt the same as former Tory leader John Major did when he spoke of the "bastards" in his cabinet.


A couple of contenders here.

When Mr Kennedy and his elections supremo Lord Tim "on the" Razzall turned up to a press conference in identical cream summer suits and his Lordship declared they were not the men from Del Monte.

But the hands down winner was when Mr Kennedy revealed he was approaching 45 to gasps of disbelief, and sympathy from the audience.

"Why else," he declared: "do you think we are emphasising pensions and free personal care for the elderly."

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