Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 14:33 UK

Lib Dems: Day Three at-a-glance

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


Custom dictates that I should make some jokes at his [Prime Minister Gordon Brown's] expense. But I have already done enough of that. I am not a sadist. I have no wish to kick a twitching corpse.

Vince Cable, Treasury spokesman


Vince Cable's speech in full


McNally calls for Lib Dem unity

Tax was everywhere. Vince Cable was all over the media promoting his plans to cut the amount paid by low and middle earners. Despite the Treasury spokesman's near-messianic status among Lib Dem delegates, the debate was heated. Opponents portrayed the proposals - to be funded via Whitehall "efficiency savings" - as a means of cutting public services. The leadership was keen to emphasise that the policy was redistributive and that most of the money "saved" would be spent on other "priorities", such as better care for mental health patients, with the remainder going back to the public. The conference overwhelmingly backed the leadership, leaving the Lib Dems as the only one of the three main parties explicitly promising tax cuts.

Harris rejects tax-cutting agenda

A few years ago, the policy was to raise income tax to fund better public services. Mr Cable argues that times have changed, with Labour imposing too high a burden on taxpayers, and that Lib Dems must change too. But some here are not happy. Convincing disgruntled Lib Dem supporters and selling his plans to the wider public looks like leader Nick Clegg's biggest challenge in the lead-up to the next general election.


• Health spokesman Norman Lamb said there should be tax breaks for people who adopt healthy lifestyles.

• A motion calling for some court cases to be televised, so that justice can "be seen to be done", was defeated.

• Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University warned that, if current poll ratings continued, the number of Lib Dem MPs would drop to 26 at the next election.

• The Lib Dems voted for the International Criminal Court to get powers to prosecute national leaders who persecute their populations.

• Delegates also criticised the government's plans to build "eco-towns", instead voting for construction to take place on brownfield sites wherever possible.

• Home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the party had the potential to make "serious gains" from Labour at the next election and that the Conservative "brand" would not stand up to the increased scrutiny. The Tories were "breathtakingly presumptuous" to adopt "fairness" as a value, he told a fringe meeting.

• Former leader Sir Menzies Campbell revealed he had had "sleepless nights" over the Lib Dems' outright opposition to the Iraq war.


Watch from Today At Conference


While some in the conference hall were finding it hard to digest the leadership's taxation plans, a young delegate-in-waiting was having no such problems. Party manifesto writer Danny Alexander revealed that his one-year-old daughter had "eaten" his copy of Make It Happen, the document laying out the blueprint for the Lib Dems' future. Well, it's a bit dry but it beats baby rice.


Giles Dilnot reports for The Daily Politics

Nick Clegg meets nine-month-old Francesca Drake

Nine-month-old Francesca Drake looks fascinated as Nick Clegg explains the minutiae of his party's tax policy.


After all the excitement over tax, on Tuesday the conference looks at how to deal with the mortgage crisis and the rising rate of home repossessions. Transport and European policy are the other main debates.

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