Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 17:57 UK

In a nutshell: Lib Dem conference


So Nick Clegg delivered his big speech to plenty of applause, but how successful was it? Did it draw a line under what has been, at times, a difficult week for him? Did it lift the spirits of the party faithful as they prepare for general election battle? And perhaps most importantly of all will it convince a disaffected electorate that the party really does offer something different and that a vote for them is not a wasted vote?


Mansion tax - On Monday, Vince Cable announced plans to impose a new tax on homes worth more than £1m. He wants a 0.5% annual levy to raise £1bn to help low-paid workers: Lib Dem plan for £1m-property tax

Internal dissent - There was anger from some senior Lib Dem MPs at several of Mr Clegg's policies. In particular, the admission that the pledge to scrap tuition fees could be abandoned if it is found to be too expensive. Mansion tax was also not universally popular, with some members of the front bench said to be unhappy that they weren't consulted about it: MPs' anger at Cable 'mansion tax'

Vince Cable
Vince Cable's mansion tax caused some consternation

Savage cuts - Mr Clegg defended his use of this emotive phrase and said "softer" language would not make the problem go away. Most MPs seemed to get behind him, although some warned that the party was preaching too much "doom and gloom". By the time of his keynote speech, Mr Clegg had adopted the phrase "progressive austerity" instead: Clegg's cuts message wins backing

Target Tories - Several senior Lib Dems focused their attacks on the Conservatives. Mr Clegg described David Cameron as the "conman of British politics and homes affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said George Osborne wasn't up to the job of chancellor: Huhne: Tories don't have to win

Afghan rethink - The Lib Dems called for a "completely new strategy" in Afghanistan and a motion was passed by members demanding that the government "focus on concluding the Afghan mission": Afghan missing 'failing' - Clegg


Who are ya? - Some of Nick Clegg's critics have suggested he is fighting an uphill battle to win support because most people don't even know who he is. But he said he wasn't worried. Speaking to BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat, he said it wasn't "fair" to say no-one knew him - in fact he'd been told that two out of three people could put a face to his name. "By the general election, I think everyone will know exactly who I am and what I stand for," he said.

The Missing Skinhead - Chris Huhne's hard-hitting attack on the Tories in his keynote conference speech turned out not to be quite as savage as first planned. He had intended to describe shadow foreign secretary William Hague as a "skinhead" in a strongly-worded section on David Cameron's new friends in Europe. The first draft of the speech, circulated to journalists, included the lines: "Skinhead Hague has toured the beer cellars of central Europe, and has come up with the dregs." But reporters were told on Monday evening the line had been dropped. "There were more important points he wanted to make about the Tories' policy than just William Hague's hairstyle and drinking habits," explained Danny Alexander in the morning press briefing.

Brought to book - Sarah Teather was the warm-up act at the party's opening night get together. She had a few digs at the opposition, suggesting David Cameron's favourite songs should include You're So Vain, Fake Plastic Trees or "anything by the Pretenders". But she reserved her best lines for her own side. Noting that a number of party figures were set to publish books in the near future, she offered others some advice on possible titles. For Evan Harris, left wing scourge of the party leadership, she suggested The God Delusion. Ouch.

Kennedy crack - As ever, Charles Kennedy gave a rousing speech to the party faithful, in which he compared Gordon Brown to the Spanish dictator Franco on his deathbed. But his best reminiscence was at the expense of the Tories. He remembered sitting next to the former prime minister Ted Heath in the Commons when the two were listening to a speech by William Hague on Europe. The speech was greeted with rapturous applause by the Tory benches, from which Mr Heath - one of the party's minority of Europhiles in the 1990s - did not join. As William Hague sat down, Charles Kennedy says Ted Heath twitched and apparently whispered to him "such a vulgar little man".

Mystic Vince - Has Vince Cable's reputation as the man who predicted the credit crunch gone to his head? We only ask because he seemed to be making predictions all over the place this week. Most seemed to involve what the Tories would do if they win the election. On Sunday he predicted they would put VAT up 25% as they "had done it before". On Monday he had his crystal ball out again. "I think that within a year's time... maybe two years' time... there will be a major constitutional crisis in Britain," he told a hushed fringe meeting. This would be caused by a Tory government with "probably one or two Scottish MPs" being on a collision course with the government in London, he reasoned. You read it here first...


Nick Clegg's last conference speech ahead of a general election

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