Special Conference

There is a lock-down planned at the Lib Dem Special Conference on Sunday. No outsiders (i.e. media) will be allowed in. It could backfire in the long run.

The openness, honesty and glorious indiscipline of Lib Dem conference debates are one of the most refreshing things about the party. Journalists would rarely bother to sit through a full session, partly because the Lib Dems didn’t matter very much, and partly because it was well known that it was a broad church that was open about its differences.

Activists regularly take the stage to denounce party policy. Even frontbenchers deliver biting critiques of their own leader. I remember Steve Webb, the pensions minister, describing Clegg’s spending policy as “the audacity of gloom”. Clegg sat there with a fixed grin, less than twenty foot away. It was the best line of the whole conference. Read more