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