Cllr Alan Dean

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Stansted North on Uttlesford District Council and former Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Learn more

Read more on this

Read more on this


by Alan Dean on 19 May, 2010

Last Sunday local Lib Dem members attended an urgent and important conference in Birmingham at which the coalition agreement reached between Nick Clegg’s team and the Conservatives was presented for endorsement. It was endorsed by getting on for 2,000 people with only a handful voting against.

The mood of the conference was positive and confident. There are naturally some concerns and Nick Clegg – our Deputy Prime Minister- recognised that there are risks in going into coalition. I think he was also right to say that going into serious politics is not about avoiding risks but about addressing them. After all, the electorate dealt a hand of cards in which there was no overall winner. No party could legitimately attempt to govern alone.

The Lib Dems have long promoted proportional representation, the inevitable effect of which is to produce balanced parliaments in which parties have to reach agreements in order to be able to govern together. So both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have had to compromise, but the end result is a government committed to delivering a lot of Lib Dem policies that would otherwise have remained no more than aspirations on paper. 

The conference reminded the Lib Dem leadership to continue to press the case for PR, scrapping student tuition fees, reducing inequality and discrimination and for human rights. One amendment reasserted the party’s continuing independence. 

The general mood was positive, confident and upbeat. There was no bitterness. Simon Hughes spoke very well in support; he said he had never expected to be wholeheartedly in support of being in a coalition with the Tories. Simon’s speech was described as ‘barnstorming’ by Nick. The best quotation for me came from Vince Cable: “Opposition is a habit we have to drop. Move out of the comfort zone of opposition.” Chris Huhne also gave a good speech.  He stated that “our hearts have always beaten on the left; it’s not going to change in government.”

Perhaps the whole event was summed up by someone who said: “Only the Lib Dems would arrange a conference where there was standing room only, a party united behind its leader, where there was overwhelming agreement about policy, and then not invite the press into the meeting”!

   Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>