By Campaign Agent Matthew Waterfield
Between September 16-19th, the Liberal Democrats returned to Bournemouth this year, just like they did after the 2015 election, with a new leader and four more MPs than they had when they last visited the seaside.
There were many fringe events for them to enjoy, with the most popular ones, unsurprisingly, being about Brexit. However, there were also events on child poverty, universal credit, and refugees amongst others that attracted lots of interest from those present.
The highlight was, as usual, the Liberal Democrat disco, with its cheesy format generating laughs from the conference attendees and journalists alike. Tim Farron took over as the DJ for a while but, as ever, Julian Huppert dominated the event.
The premier event was of course Vince Cable’s conference address - the first one he’s ever given. The speech had been overshadowed by Cable’s claim to be an “alternative prime minister” and many were interested to hear what he had to say next. He had previously claimed in an interview with the BBC that it was “perfectly plausible” he could be Britain’s next PM due to the stark divisions in both the Conservative and Labour parties.
He ended up speaking a lot about the past, mentioning Iraq and the financial crisis amongst other subjects, before moving on to the topic that the rank and file members sitting in front of him were so passionate about – Brexit. Pursuing the keystone election pledge of the party to physically reverse the Article 50 process – popularly called “exit from Brexit” – he followed much in his predecessor’s footsteps. Receiving a disappointing 7.4% of the vote in June’s General Election, Vince Cable assured party members that he would not stray off course in regard to their policy on Brexit.
He ended his speech with the words “Hope counters despair”, which won him a vigorous round of applause from the audience, suggesting his words went down well among the party faithful. Media coverage was much more balanced, with a vague consensus forming that the speech was decent but not too memorable.
Sources and Further Reading
Image Liberal Democrats @Flickr