Monday, 20 September 2010

Presidents, BOTYs and Nick Clegg's speech - what conference meant for me

I'm back in Lanson after a weekend at the Lib Dem conference. Listening to the radio on the way home, it seems that most people felt the same way about Nick's speech as I did - it was governmental. On one hand that's fabulous. We're in Government and the Deputy PM was the one delivering our Leader's speech. On the other hand, it was pretty low key stuff and many commentators claim that it could have been given equally by Cameron.

I don't think it could be. Apart from anything else, Nick made it clear that he opposes the concept of small government for small government's sake. We may cut the size of the UK government but only in response to the need created by Labour's economic crisis.

He also talked about genuine additional powers for local government - announcing the power to borrow against future income to fund development - and didn't mention the Big Society once.

And he wasn't subtle. 'Stick with us' was the plea to voters and activists alike. He made it clear that he didn't want to be in coalition with the Conservatives forever, but was equally clear that the minimum commitment was for five years.

Within the hall there was hardly gushing enthusiasm for the speech. But then Nick is not a rabble rouser and he had a very difficult message to deliver. I thought he did the job very well in the main. I believe that he could have done a little more to assuage concerns expressed earlier in the day over academies and free schools, but that aside it was competent enough.

For another view on Nick's speech, it's worth reading Alex Foster's blog on the subject.

The other big (in Lib Dem terms) news of the day was the withdrawal from the Lib Dem Presidential race before it got started of Jason Zadrozny. Jason says he had already got the necessary nomination signatures but decided to pull out in favour of Susan Kramer. Curiously, he did this only a couple of hours after writing a piece for Lib Dem Voice on why he would be the best candidate for President. I'm not sure what his thinking is (other than the likelihood that he would not win) but I think that the contest has lost a candidate with a particular angle and will be poorer for it.

And finally, I failed to blog before, but I won the Blog of the Year award for the best blog written by a Lib Dem holding public office. I was very chuffed to receive the award from Sue Garden, wife of the late (Lord) Tim Garden in whose name the award is made. Not expecting to win, I talked rubbish for three minutes as an acceptance speech - a concept that will be totally familiar to council colleagues.

Apologies for the pic featuring a very unflattering image of me. I handed my camera over to someone else and they returned it with 20 pictures taken - 19 of which were out of focus. (But that's better than my average at times...)


David said...

That's not unflattering Alex, you're image is improved by the shirt you're wearing. Come on the Blacks!

Niles said...

19 out of focus? Oh dear.

My hands are probably not steady enough.

Thanks for the link!

Alex Folkes said...

I was carefully not attributing blame!