Arrived in Brighton for conference on Saturday and rushed for briefing by Ming. Then walk out to seafront on Ming’s right arm to greet the media. The media are interested in tax – are we giving up our much loved 50p policy? – and Charles – how will his speech on Tuesday go? Ming gave a good answer – ‘there will be no clapometer’ and he robustly defended parties having real debates on substantive issues without them being “high noon” for the leadership. It’s obviously not a competition and Charles is one of our stars so I expect Charles will lay out some ideas – at least that is what I hope, as that is one of his great strengths.
And lastly – top of the pops for media questions – is this conference a test of Ming’s leadership?
Well – every conference is a test of leadership. Ming will do a good job. He is very charming, intelligent and oozes integrity from every pore – but there’s no doubt that all eyes will be upon him. That’s leadership!
Both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning see me and the rest of the Home Affairs Team (Nick Clegg and Mark Hunter) holding special sessions. The one on the Saturday with us as a team being there for our party members to question, raise issues, tell us the party’s policies and issues that they feel need addressing and inform us what they think of how the Home Affairs Team is doing!
Today’s session was a more formal consultation on the consultation paper on crime produced by the crime working group chaired by Graham Tope – my former London Assembly and Metropolitan Police Authority colleague. Crime and anti-social behaviour remain the key issues – not Labour’s endless headlines and talk about being tough, but for Lib Dems it’s what works that matters. Rhetoric doesn’t make out streets safer.
First thing this morning I did my first webcast from conference. This is a new ‘feature’ during the Lib Dem conference with daily feeds from Ming, Duncan Brack (Chair of Conference) and myself each doing a minute or two filming to go up on the party website so that members can have a taste of what each of us makes of what’s going on.