Page last updated at 18:44 GMT, Saturday, 13 September 2008 19:44 UK

Lib Dems: Day One at-a-glance

By Justin Parkinson and Gavin Stamp
BBC News political reporters, in Bournemouth


British politics has become like a giant dance of the hokey cokey. David and Gordon skipping round in circles, hand in hand. Taking it in turns, left foot in, right foot out, left foot out, right foot in.

Nick Clegg


Sometimes party conferences - at least on the main stage - can seem hermetically sealed from the real world of political skirmishes and plotting. Policies to change the world are presented, largely uncriticised, to an adoring audience. But Gordon Brown-bashing was the only sport in town on day one in Bournemouth. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said Labour was in its "death throes". Debates on legislative reform and international affairs were another chance to stick the boot in. The UK's third party can scent blood, but many here fear some of it might be their own. Mr Clegg's rather personal barb about the "arrogance" of Tory leader David Cameron suggests concern that, while one enemy seems to be on the wane, another is posing an ever greater electoral threat. He will be keen to move the focus towards the Lib Dems' new (Tory voter-friendly?) "tax-cutting" proposals as the week goes on.


Defence was on the agenda, with delegates voting to cut the UK's nuclear arsenal by half and to ensure funding for improving armed forces accommodation.

The conference also approved plans for "people's bills", where the six most-signed petitions are given a hearing in Parliament.

Nick Clegg on Bournemouth promenade

Crunch time: Nick Clegg is the centre of attention, but what will the party faithful and wider public make of his performance this week?


The conference gets into full swing on Sunday. After his rally on Saturday, Mr Clegg takes part in a Q&A session with Steve Richards of the Independent. There are also debates on public finances, social mobility, crime, deportation and "safe standing" at football matches.

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