Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 14:11 UK

Top 10 party conference moments

The past three weeks have seen politicians attempting to gee up their troops for the general election battle ahead. There were big speeches, policy announcements and some off-script moments. Here are some of the most memorable.


Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling: ''I hope that this isn't a political gimmick''

The shadow home secretary could only laugh off an "embarrassing" gaffe after he found himself left out of the Tories' information loop. Asked about the appointment of Gen Sir Richard Dannatt as a defence adviser, Chris Grayling greeted the news with scepticism, suggesting it sounded like "a political gimmick" from Labour. When he was later informed that it was, in fact, a Conservative move, he made a quick about-turn, saying it was "really good news". Grayling laughs off Dannatt gaffe

Sun newspaper, torn up

Just hours after Gordon Brown had delivered his conference speech, news came of a high-profile Labour defection. The Sun newspaper - which has backed Labour since 1997 but which famously declared after the Tories' 1992 victory: 'It's The Sun Wot Won It' - announced that it would be backing the Conservatives next time round. The next day one union leader tore the paper up and Cabinet ministers dismissed it - Equalities minister Harriet Harman took a swipe at the Sun over its topless models: "Let's face it, the nearest their political analysis gets to women's rights is Page 3's news in briefs," she said. Brown defiant after Sun rejection

Vince Cable

Vince Cable hit the headlines at the Lib Dem conference after he announced plans to slap a 0.5% annual tax on the values of properties above £1m. The shine on the new policy was tarnished slightly, however, when some members of the front bench claimed they had not been consulted about it. One senior MP reportedly called the tax "codswallop". The usually sure-footed Treasury spokesman told the BBC later "we could have consulted more, I think that's a fair criticism". MPs' anger at Cable 'mansion tax'

Lord Mandelson

Lord Mandelson's barn-storming speech almost stole the show at the Labour conference. He embraced his pantomime villain image with relish, referring to his "network of informants", but insisted that if he could come back from the political wilderness, so could Labour. His exaggerated gestures and hammy asides went down a storm in the hall and made him an unlikely conference favourite. It seemed the party faithful had finally learned to love their "prince of darkness". Labour learns to love Mandelson


Johnson and Paxman go head to head

A conversation that began by tackling the thorny issue of the Lisbon Treaty descended into something of a row. When the BBC's Jeremy Paxman asked Boris Johnson about his and David Cameron's "privileged backgrounds", the London mayor turned the tables. "Is this what Newsnight has come to, is this what depths you have plumbed?" Mr Johnson asked: "Why don't you get yourself a proper job?"

Gordon Brown

All the talk ahead of Mr Brown's speech was that it was "make or break" - the key moment in a conference dubbed Operation Fightback. Introduced for the second year running by his wife Sarah, he focused on specific policies, ranging from the more universally popular, like free childcare, to the controversial, like supervised homes for teenage mothers. He also insisted the election was still winnable for Labour and called on every party member to begin the battle. We're not done yet, insists Brown

David Cameron

If one thing was expected from Mr Cameron's speech, it was a ray of political sunshine following the rather downbeat assessment of George Osborne. The Tory leader stressed that there was a long climb ahead but the "view from the summit would be worth it". He made a number of personal references in a speech that covered traditional Tory ground - ending "big government" and even moved onto territory Labour might consider its own - helping Britain's poorest. I'm up to the test, Cameron says

Nick Clegg

Mr Clegg sought to reassert his authority after some grumblings among his colleagues. The speech coincided with his wedding anniversary but it was voters he was proposing to when, brushing off suggestions of deals with other parties, he said "I want to be prime minister". His buzz phrase was "progressive austerity" - spending less, but spending more fairly - a bit of a change from his reference earlier in the week to "savage cuts" which one party member pointed out was "a bit savage". Clegg: I aim to be prime minister

Sarah Brown, Samantha Cameron and Miriam Clegg (pics: PA, Getty)

Sarah Brown returned to the spotlight again this year, introducing her husband to the Labour conference for a second time - and telling the world he was her "hero". Opposite number Samantha Cameron opted to stay silent, but won plaudits for her choice of dress - a £65 M&S number - which was judged to be suitably recession-chic. Miriam Clegg, meanwhile, wore green as her husband expressed his regret, on her behalf, at not being Brad Pitt.

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage certainly had a headline grabber lined up for the UKIP party conference. He took the unusual step of using his speech to announce he would quit as the party's leader. He said he would continue to lead UKIP's MEPs, but doing two jobs - leading the domestic party as well - was "too much". Nevertheless, he did set his sights on another job in Westminster, announcing plans to run against Commons' speaker John Bercow at the next election. Farage to quit as leader of UKIP

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