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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Lib Dem conference at-a-glance: Day three
All you need to know about Day Three of the Liberal Democrat conference 2005, at-a-glance:


Home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten signals he is ready to take on the government over anti-terror legislation - but the leadership issue refuses to go away as the party prepares to vote on new rules.


Senior Liberal Democrats signal they are prepared to break cross-party consensus on the government's anti-terror plans.

Charles Kennedy defends his style of leadership - insisting he is capable of making tough decisions.

The Liberal Democrats have to start being less "prissy" about policy, says Europe spokesman Nick Clegg.

The party is to vote on plans to make it tougher to mount a leadership challenge.

Environoment spokesman Norman Baker wants the building of any more nuclear power plants to be ruled out.


Some Lib Dems may be complaining about a lack of firm leadership - but it is doubtful this is what they have in mind. A story has gone around the conference centre that campaigns chief Lord Rennard is so incensed by an article attacking him in the independent magazine, The Liberal, that he ordered stewards to scour the press room and remove all copies of the offending periodical -presumable for burning on the steps of the Winter Gardens. Needless to say, all is not quite as it seems. Party officials insist the don't give a fig what the magazine's editor, Lib Dem member Ben Ramm, says about the Lord. But they do care that commercial outfits go through the proper channels when attempting to peddle their wares, which, they claim, The Liberal didn't. Despite that, officials insist there was no order to remove copies of the mag and, it must be said, if there was, the stewards didn't do a very good job of it as numerous copies were still lying around the press room this morning. I won't bore you by repeating the attack on Lord Rennard, but it amounts to a claim his election strategy, with its concentration on local issues, risks turning the party into: "community chauvinists, parochial, short sighted and unfit to govern a nation". So there you are.

Some bad news for those Lib Dem leaders who believe they have finally cast off the image of the party as full of anoraks and train spotters. One internet blog from a conference visitor - if not a windup - details the excitement he experienced driving to conference. "On the way across the country I managed to spot consecutively number plates 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287 and 288 a consecutive record for myself. The only problem was that I failed to find 281 first". How on earth can Charles Kennedy compete with that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Family Planning Association knows how to grab attention for its fringe meeting. It entitled it: "teenage sex, what next?" The answer is probably given in the conference guide which shows the next meeting is being run by the General Medical Council.

Party Treasury spokesman Vincent Cable provoked croaks of laughter when he compared Gordon Brown to the children's book character Toad of Toad Hall. Both were "shamelessly boastful, egged on by an admiring fan club of stoats and weasels", he said. But perhaps Dr Cable should brush up on his knowledge of animal politics. Toad was in fact driven out of Toad Hall by the stoats and the weasels. Badger, Mole and Ratty had to remove them with the threat of cudgels.


1115 Urgent debate on multiculturalism

1200 Speech by Mark Oaten, home affairs spokesman

12.20 Debate on proportional representation - Ending Elective Dictatorship

1415 Debate on road user pricing

1500 Question and answer session on the environment

1545 Debate on tackling carbon emissions

1645 Speech by Jim Wallace, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

1705 Leadership nominations rule change debate and debate on how to get more MPs from ethnic minorities


Delegates inflict a defeat on the party leadership over proposals to part privatize Royal Mail


"You mustn't confuse the need for effective chairmanship, which is part of the job of the boss, along with the ability to take tough decisions and to lead people," Charles Kennedy hits back at critics of his leadership style.

"He didn't actually think it was a criticism to say you are more of a chairman than a leader. He prides himself on his more consensual style of leadership. Had he known how this was going to be written up he might have answered the question differently and said he eats babies for breakfast," Lord Razzall defends Mr Kennedy.


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