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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 September 2007, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
At-a-glance: Lib Dem conference

All you need to know about the five-day Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton.


Sir Menzies Campbell seeks to rally his party in his end-of-conference speech, attacking the "cosy consensus" between Labour and the Tories.

Sir Menzies Campbell dismisses stories about a possible successor.

Lady Elspeth Campbell steps in to defend her husband Sir Menzies as leadership speculation resumes.

Nick Clegg says he will probably stand for the party leadership in the future.

The Lib Dems say they are ready for a "snap" general election - and they believe the most likely date for an autumn poll is 25 October.

The conference backs plans to cut income tax, scrap council tax and increase green taxes.

The Lib Dems back a radical series of proposals to tackle climate change, including a ban on petrol-powered cars by 2040. Environment spokesman Chris Huhne said tackling global warming would need an "enormous economic change".

Treasury spokesman Vincent Cable goes on the attack over the crisis at Northern Rock, calling it a product of executive "greed", lax regulation and government complacency.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage is barracked by delegates at a fringe meeting as he backs Sir Menzies Campbell's call for an EU referendum.

London mayoral hopeful Brian Paddick says he was an "undercover" Liberal Democrat during his time with the Metropolitan Police.


  • Nick Clegg won by a whisker in the race to see which badges sold the most at the conference gift stand. Those bearing the face of the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman have outsold all others, with the youthful Sheffield Hallam MP's likeness appealing to 36 delegates. In joint second place were party leader Sir Menzies Campbell and Chris Huhne, both on 34.

  • Exhibitors appear to have taken the Lib Dems' message about the evils of plastic bags to heart. Party conferences are normally knee-deep in carriers but they were distinctly thin on the ground in Brighton. "We are not offering them to people. If people ask for them, we will give them out," says Stuart Herdson, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. It was a similar story on most of the fringe stalls, with some handing out environmentally-friendly paper bags. Now, if only they could do something about all those leaflets and flyers...

  • Sarah Teather was not happy. The higher education spokeswoman reportedly lost her temper after learning that a commitment to scrapping tuition fees had been included in a document highlighting the party's key radical proposals - despite just having insisted on television that the measure was under review. During an interview on BBC Two's Daily Politics, Ms Teather said that a commission was being launched to rethink the policy. But once they were off air the presenter, Andrew Neil, showed her a briefing paper given to journalists ahead of Sir Menzies Campbell's speech tomorrow, which featured the policy prominently. According to Mr Neil, Ms Teather responded: "I'm just the higher education spokeswoman, no-one ever tells me anything." She is then said to have made a beeline for Sir Menzies' chief of staff, Ed Davey, and started remonstrating with him.

  • Lib Dem Youth and Students caused no end of confusion with their latest lapel badge, which proudly bore the slogan "homophobia is gay". Gay is now a general term of disapproval among Britain's yoof, explains a young Lib Dem - but that has not stopped older party members seeing red at the slogan. "That is exactly the sort of thing we are supposed to be fighting against," said one.

  • We all know Sir Menzies Campbell was an Olympic sprinter in his youth. What we didn't know is that he regularly used to compete against OJ Simpson - in the days before the notorious celebrity became an American footballer. "I used to race against him," mused the Lib Dem leader as he watched a news item on OJ. Wonder who won?

  • Campaigns chief Ed Davey had hacks salivating at the conference. He promised that in the event of a snap general election this autumn, the Lib Dems would beat Labour and the Tories by providing the best bacon butties at morning press conferences. A rash promise? Only time will tell.


    PARTY 'TOO OLD AND WHITE': A panel of young people has told the Liberal Democrats they are too old, too white - and that they need to do more to capture voters' imagination. At a fringe meeting, six youths gave their first impressions of the party conference. One said the amount of grey hair in the audience was "a surprise", adding he was "stunned" by what he saw as pre-prepared questions and answers.
    Joanna Shinn

    COALITION CALLS DISMISSED: Two Liberal Democrats identified as possible successors to Sir Menzies Campbell have dismissed Gordon Brown's "big tent" politics and played down the possibility of entering into coalition with any other party after the next election. Environment spokesman Chris Huhne and home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg were speaking at a fringe meeting organised by the Independent. Mr Clegg said the prime minister "projected an image of pluralism" but kept a "firm, sweaty grasp on power". Both men defended the leadership's call for a referendum on Britain's membership of the European union but not for one on the new EU treaty.
    Mark Sanders

    GREEN TAXES 'MUST CHANGE BEHAVIOUR': Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said one of his biggest challenges was "how to sell environmental taxes to the general public". He said green taxes must not contribute to higher levels of tax, adding: "This is not to raise money but to change behaviour". Mr Cable also said the Lib Dems could offer "more challenging" policies on vehicle excise duty, and think about doing more to give people driving old cars an incentive to replace them with greener ones.
    Rajini Vaidyanathan

    LAWS 'BULLIED AT SCHOOL': Lib Dem education spokesman David Laws revealed he had been bullied at primary school. He told a fringe meeting organised by the NSPCC: "I was about age five or so. There was a guy in the year above who was a bit of a big guy and he started picking on me." The bully threatened to "duff up" the future MP for Yeovil, but the intimidation "didn't last very long". Mr Laws, who lists rugby among his hobbies, said he had fought back, adding: "My final memory, from when I was a year older, was that he tried to bully a friend of mine and I just went up to the bully and I thumped him hard."
    Justin Parkinson

    FAMILIES 'NEED BETTER UNDERSTANDING': A lack of understanding between parents and children could contribute to the radicalisation of young Muslims, Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg argued. He and Mohammed Abdul-Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain talked about ways of reaching out to communities in Britain. Mr Clegg said he did not see the same cohesion between generations that he saw when he visited his wife's family in Spain. Dr Bari argued that modern life was leading to individualism, which was contributing to problems. He said parents who had to go out to work were not able to nurture their children in the same way.
    Joanna Shinn


    Lady Elspeth and Sir Menzies Campbell
    Sir Menzies Campbell poses by the sea with his wife, Lady Elspeth


    "If there was a vacancy in the future then I probably would."
    Home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg on the Lib Dem leadership.

    "I like ambition. I am totally relaxed." Sir Menzies Campbell says it is OK for other senior Lib Dems to have leadership ambitions.


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