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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Lib Dem conference at-a-glance
All you need to know about day three of the Liberal Democrat conference 2006:

WEDNESDAY'S AGENDA

0900 Policy motion: Hospital nutrition

1000 Presentation: Liverpool City Council Lib Dems

1020 Speech: Vince Cable, treasury spokesman

1040 School head teachers

1120 Simon Hughes, party president

1140 Rural communities

1225 Presentation: Lord Coe, chair of London Olympics organising committee

1415 Transport and social exclusion

1500 Sarah Teather, education and skills spokesman

1520 Trust in People: Make Britain free, fair and green - report of the Meeting the Challenge Working Group

1650 End modern slavery and trafficking

1730 Urgent issue: NHS in crisis

CONFERENCE CATCH-UP

Ex-Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has been accused of refusing to do a public handshake with Sir Menzies Campbell after his conference address.

Politicians should be allowed a private life or people will be put off public service through fear of being exposed by the media, Simon Hughes has warned.

Chancellor Gordon Brown is accused by Vince Cable of "basking in the fading glory of decisions taken a decade ago".

Media-stoked fear of paedophiles is an "absolute tragedy" which is destroying communities, Baroness Williams warns.

Britain's arms exports scheme needs a fundamental review, Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman Michael Moore says.

Schools should get more funds to take underperforming pupils, says Lib Dem education chief Sarah Teather.

Liberal Democrats love Charles Kennedy - but do they think he is ready for a comeback? Delegates give their reaction to Tuesday's speech.

CONFERENCE DIARY

Reports that glossy magazine The Liberal - strapline "poetry, politics, culture" - has folded came as a surprise to its editor Ben Ramm, who says the next issue is on its way as normal, thanks very much. Mind you, the reports did come from the stand of rival publication, the decidedly less glossy (but no less entertaining) Liberator. Is this any way for the Liberal press to behave? "Well, you know what Liberal Democrats are like," shrugs Mr Ramm. Postscript: This little misunderstanding seems to have been cleared up after visit by Mr Ramm to the Liberator stand.

He spent years touring the world as a special boat service officer but rural Somerset proved too much for Paddy Ashdown's communication skills. He recalled how as a young candidate for Yeovil he had tried to reach new voters by giving talks about Chinese culture. So he was unsurprised to be asked to give a speech about china at a village hall. The array of jugs and plates should have been a giveaway but still he launched into his routine about Chinese calligraphy and Chairman Mao. At the end, the chairwoman told him: "Oh Mr Ashdown, that was lovely. We thought you were coming to speak about Wedgewood and Spode."

William Hague - who has never quite lived down his teenage party conference debut - has competition for a nerdy childhood. Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable confesses he learned about politics "standing behind the curtains" listening to local Tory meetings at his home. "My father made Alf Garnett look like a cringeing liberal," he explains.

Charles Kennedy received praise in some quarters on Tuesday for delivering his big comeback speech without notes. But was his stage wandering tour de force all it seemed? The former leader's press team has confirmed that the "outline" of his speech was on an autocue.

BEST OF THE BLOGS

The Lib Dem blogs are buzzing with talk of Charles Kennedy's big speech.

Stephen Tall thought the former leader's performance was surprisingly low key. But he thought Mr Kennedy still managed to pull off a "high wire act on stilts" by not giving the political commentators too much to feast on. "Of one thing I'm pretty sure - the hoarse delivery suggested he hasn't kicked his smoking habit," the party's "blogger of the year" added.

There was a sense of relief on some blogs that Sir Menzies Campbell got his tax proposals through conference without the sort of high profile dust up the party can do without at the moment.

But Jonathan Calder reckoned the real hero of the hour was environment spokesman Chris Huhne. "Make no mistake: Ming Campbell didn't win today's crucial vote on tax; Chris Huhne did. It was Huhne who anchored his leadership campaign around the need for green taxation - liberal England... today was Huhne's day, and he knows it," he adds - a sentiment shared by others in the Lib Dem blogosphere.

Alex Foster, on Niles's Blog, managed to secure a mini scoop, by grabbing an interview with BBC political editor Nick Robinson. You can hear the results on www.libdemvoice.org. Mr Foster also managed to publish a reasonably faithful transcript of what Mr Kennedy said - no mean feat as no advance copies were handed out.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

Charles Kennedy
Charles Kennedy soaks up delegates' appreciation before Tuesday's big speech

QUOTES OF THE DAY


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