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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Lib Dem conference diary
By Nick Assinder
BBC News Online political correspondent in Bournemouth

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

Wednesday 22 September

LEMBIT OPIK STORY OF THE DAY

It's astonishing. Just when you think you know everything there is to know about the MP - asteroid hunter, harmonica player, weather girl partner - you discover yet another facet to his character.

He claims he managed to answer this poser which has defeated George Bush, Tony Blair and Kofi Annan in precisely 160 characters
Lembit, it appears, holds a pilots licence. More than that, he uses it.

And he used it in particular to ferry himself, his leader Charles Kennedy and a small party of members from the conference to a Teesside location in a 10-seater light aircraft.

As he said himself, it proves the Lib Dems are a party with altitude.

It also proves Mr Kennedy is too trusting.

POSER OF THE DAY

Chinchillas have warm fur
The fact that the British Fur Trade Association - making its first foray to the Lib Dem conference exhibition area - is collecting money for the NSPCC.

That is the society for the protection of children, not Chinchillas presumably.

It is also worth noting that the association, the Countryside Alliance, the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA have stalls within spitting distance of each other.

Yet this has remained an entirely blood free conference.

DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE DAY

The cancellation of Welsh night.

This bash has traditionally been a riotous, fun occasion which allowed party members to let their hair down whilst swallowing vast quantities of Brains - the bitter, not the faggots.

Last year one of the party games involved trying to snatch as many clothes pegs as possible in one hand from a washing line. And no, I have absolutely no idea why.

But nothing this year. Indeed, no Welsh night at all.

Another victim of the outbreak of seriousness?

QUOTE OF THE DAY

The delegate who wandered up to a group of hacks at the conference centre bar and asked: "Can you tell me how to recognise a Liberal Democrat MP?"

"No, how do you recognise a Liberal Democrat MP," they replied, waiting for the punch line.

"No, really. How can I tell which of these people are MPs. I only joined the party very recently."

DAFT ORDER OF THE DAY
Party bosses organised an "impromptu" reception for one speaker, and handed out placards to be held up by a cheering and clapping audience when she entered the hall.

Then they circulated a little note to the audience reminding them to do it and telling them "remember to hold it the right way up."

Sadly, two hands were needed to hold up the placards meaning the star turn entered the hall to virtual silence.

As one delighted party official declared: "You can tell we have taken lessons from the Democratic Convention in the US."

BAD LUCK OF THE DAY

Lib Dem Peer, Baroness Joan Walmsley was forced to pull out of a seminar on crime and disorder at which she was due to speak, and race back to London - because her home had been burgled.




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