Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Sunday, 14 September 2008 18:12 UK

Lib Dems: Day Two at-a-glance

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


There is a real risk that the country will sleepwalk back into a period of Conservative government, not out of enthusiasm, but on the rebound.

David Laws, education spokesman


Ahead of some big debates on tax later this week, the focus on Sunday was very much on Nick Clegg's progress - or otherwise - as leader. The Lib Dems would baulk at the thought of a repeat of what happened to predecessors Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell, but lots of delegates are still reserving judgement. The title chosen for this year's conference is Make it Happen. With opinion polls suggesting a squeeze by the Tories, that same title could double as an exhortation to Mr Clegg. Yes, he is telegenic. Yes, he speaks well. But many in the party and in the media question exactly what the party's new tax plans actually mean. As the week goes on, Mr Clegg's ability to make the proposals understandable - and eventually popular - will be closely scrutinised.

  • Party education spokesman David Laws pledged that the Lib Dems would abolish the current national curriculum for England and replace it with a slimmed-down document, as used in Sweden.

  • Home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne called for an end to the "job-for-life" culture in police forces.

  • The conference also voted for the link between earnings and the basic state pension to be restored.
  • Treasury spokesman Jeremy Browne said Lib Dems had no "dogmatic objection" to private finance initiative projects but stressed they should not be used by ministers to "cook the books".

    Former home secretary Charles Clarke hit the conference fringe to discuss the possibility of any future Labour-Lib Dem collaboration. He said there needed to be more discussion, but reserved the right to criticise his hosts. He told a packed meeting: "There are a group of Lib Dem MPs who have gone about trying to tell the story that politics in this country is fundamentally corrupt... That damages politics and it's fundamentally untrue."


    The facially hirsute Mr Clarke would have been more uncritically received by one of Britain's woolliest (by their own admission) pressure groups. The Beard Liberation Front warns: "The Lib Dems, once the bastion of beards in British politics, now have fewer beards in representative positions than occur naturally in the general population of voters. The Lib Dem image of beard and sandals has long been in decline, but all the indications are that, with Nick Clegg the most clean shaven of the current party leaders, the decline is accelerating."


    In his Q&A session with Steve Richards of the Independent, Nick Clegg revealed that he would be taking paternity leave when the third of his brood is born. Politics was a "brutally un-family-friendly vocation", he warned any would-be MPs in the audience.


    Treasury spokesman Vince Cable told a fringe meeting that, while working for Labour foreign secretary Tony Crosland in the 1970s, his main task had been to get the venerable statesman home from trips in time for that most essential of duties - watching Match of the Day.

    Vince Cable and queue of delegates

    Barack Obama? The Pope? No, there is only one man who gets the Lib Dems queuing in such vast numbers. Delegates were snaking around the room to have a picture taken with the one and only Vince Cable. The Treasury spokesman's smiles were in a good cause - charity.


    Monday looks set to be a heavyweight day, with Treasury spokesman Vince Cable outlining his plans to reform the tax system. Eco-towns, the role of the International Criminal Court and the broadcasting of court proceedings will also be discussed. On a lighter note, party members get to pitch their ideas to a panel of senior Lib Dems, in what is being billed as a Democracy Dragons' Den.

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Has China's housing bubble burst?
    How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
    Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific