Published on 18 Sep 2010

Clegg tells Lib Dems to enjoy the power

From a sparsely attended Conference hall this afternoon there’s nothing too exiting going on… but it should fill up for the AV Yes Campaign rally – about the only thing these days that could unite Charles Kennedy and Nick Clegg on a platform.

Odd one this because the Lib Dem leadership will now discreetly pull back from the front-line of the campaign and hope that prominent non-political characters now go centre stage in the campaign.

They want the message to be about the wider public good of AV, they don’t want it to be seen as a bit of self-serving policy to gain party advantage.

Nick Clegg says in his speech tonight that he doesn’t know whether the Lib Dems would benefit or not from AV.

He’ll also use the speech to tell delegates to “enjoy” the pride of being in power “for a second.”

Lib Dems strategists say there are plenty of party stalwarts who feel that way. I certainly met a few, chatting at random to folk around the Conference centre today.

I also found some delegates from The Wirrall who seemed quite emotional about the distasteful business of getting into bed with the Conservatives.

You wonder how much it helps when the Lib Dem leader seems to be getting on quite so famously with his Tory counterpart – The Sun today has them fixing Ikea cabinets together and knocking tennis balls at each other at Chequers. Transparency gone too far, Lib Dem communications folk might think.

Doesn’t look like there will necessarily be a vote on Trident here after all. There’s a debate on the Pakistan floods that will take one of the two available emergency debate slots here and the other one, to be voted on tomorrow, looks like it could be on housing or health policy.

Both of those are fairly hot potatoes of their own – there’s some Lib Dem hostility to the housing benefit changes coming into effect in April 2011 and some bafflement about where the Lansley health reforms came from and what they add up to.

Chatting to delegates I found quite a few spontaneously bringing up concerns about GP commissioning. On this and other policy areas delegates say they’re feeling particularly cut off from decision-making because the Party’s not been communicating with them as much or as well as normal.

This they blame in large part on  the loss of “short money”, the state funds paid to parties in opposition, snatched away the moment they are in power.  A lot of them also blame the media reporting of the Coalition too.

Tweets by @garygibbonblog

2 reader comments

  1. Ray Turner says:

    What a shame Vince Cable has been so spectacularly wrong on two occasions this week.

    First over privatisation of the Royal Mail,
    then over immigration…

    We need out politicians to think laterally, and not resort to the same old tried, failed and discredited ideas.

    Privatisation is seriously discredited these days. We had to bring Railtrack back into public ownership if you recall, because the work wasn’t being done properly. There were some serious safety issues.

    Also discredited is the concept that immigration is the answer to skills shortages in the UK.

    The correct way of thinking Vince, is to find a way of training the existing UK population to do the work that needs to be done, and to persuade narrow-minded exploitative business leaders that using the native workforce is actually the right approach…

  2. Lindy says:

    Interesting that Clegg tells the lib dems to ‘enjoy the power’.

    Maybe this is a very apposite comment from a politician seemingly unprinicpled and without any idea of how the real world works?

    On AV it seems the party leadership has abandoned any real wish for truly representative voting system. The tories will be rubbing their hands with glee because it is likely that the many of the media will rally against the whole idea (and AV doesn’t go far enough anyway, the result will be ‘no’ and PR will be buried for many years.

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