miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
The keynotes speeches at conference were a bit of a mixed bag this time. Floella seemed to be having bother with the autocue at the rally, and El Ex-Presidente's emotional handover of the gavel and On Liberty to Tim Farron was beautifully done but (given my I'm 4 Ros ness) was a bittersweet moment for me. Farron's speech was a barnstormer, as usual, and Cleggy did ok.

Cleggy's Q&A was interesting. Quite a lot of the questions he was asked were giving him a very respectful and mild-mannered kicking, and to his credit he only did a bit of ducking and eliding. He genuinely does seem to relish debate and interaction, and was visibly sad when the time was up. For me, the Q&A worked a lot better than his closing speech, which had some wonderful moments, almost all of which were then tempered with wrong. For example "We're not left. We're not right. We're liberal!" which garnered huge cheers, but was then modified to "we have the freehold to the centre ground in politics" - um.... No. We're not on the left right axis at all. We're not boring, middle-of-the-road, populist hoggers of the centre ground, and painting us as such does us no favourz.

And then he resurrected the spectre of Alarm Clock Britain. I don't know who keeps telling him that it's a good idea to remind people of the thing they hate, the thing that makes them get out of bed and go to work, the bastard alarm clock, in every sodding speech, but I don't know one single person who really resonates with the phrase. When he went into depth explaining what he meant by it, things became a bit clearer. This is his term for the squeezed middle, the entitlement queens who claim that nobody pays them any attention. Now sure, these people are important. But Clegg, in his speech, made them out to be the important people. Maybe in terms of courting their votes, but in terms of social justice? No. We should be fighting for the poor and disadvantaged and dispossessed, not those who are perfectly capable of fighting for themselves, and very often do so by trampling on the poor and disadvantaged and dispossessed.

Clegg did have a tough gig this time, though, so I can forgive him for hitting a couple of wrong notes. Yes, he's in front of a home crowd, but that home crowd is not necessarily a friendly one. For example, we had a lovely view of Sheffield Forgemasters from our hotel, and that spectre, however unjustified it may be, refuses to go away. And I think he slightly misjudged it. His keynote speech in Liverpool (co-written by the very sexy Richard Reeves) was absolutely dead on. This time he failed to reach those heights, which is a pity. But I'd still say he did OK.

Our new president, on the other hand, is still very much the darling of conference. By Cthulhu the man can do a good speech, and a passable song too (more on Glee Club later). His "I'm Northern, me" schtick went down very well in Sheffield, and he is excellent at judging the mood of a crowd and tailoring his speaking to match. In terms of the party presidency, I'm still not sure he's what we need at this time, but I love him as a speaker as much as I always have.

The other speaker I feel I should mention is Don Foster. We didn't have a CGB auction this time, but that didn't put Don off; he simply did his CGB auctioneer act for the whole of conference ayt the appeal before the leader's speech, and it was as witty and clever and hilarious as ever. It was a heartwarmer, and I was glad to see it happen.

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Date: Monday, March 14th, 2011 12:44 pm (UTC)
burkesworks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] burkesworks
We should be fighting for the poor and disadvantaged and dispossessed, not those who are perfectly capable of fighting for themselves, and very often do so by trampling on the poor and disadvantaged and dispossessed.

Amen to all that!

However, while the Party continues to be in coalition with the party that has a record second-to-none in trampling on the poor/disadvantaged/dispossessed, expect many more results like Barnsley Central.

Date: Monday, March 14th, 2011 12:59 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
Alas, yes. But these issues are the ones where the Lib Dems in government need to push back against the Tories the most, even at the risk of legislative deadlock.

Date: Monday, March 14th, 2011 01:17 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Yup. And with Cameron announcing that the NHS policy isn't being changed, I'm hoping that the majority of Lib Dems will vote against it. Which will be an interesting test...

Date: Monday, March 14th, 2011 02:01 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
Agreed with you on Clegg's speech. I read the text of it and just kept wanting to slap him, hard. Am sure it came off slightly better in person...

Date: Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
daweaver:   (saveworld)
From: [personal profile] daweaver
Maybe we should pin Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham's next speech to the back of Big Ted...

"We're not left. We're not right. We're liberal! We have the freehold to the centre ground in politics!"

And the freedom to make complete non-sequiturs in our speeches, because it's not as if anyone's going to listen to them before writing their articles. Take, for instance, Jackie Ashley in Het Grauniad yesterday:

They are not [voting against the NHS changes], I'd argue, out of juvenile oppositionism, or because they cannot accept the tough choices governing entails; but rather out of a basic survival instinct.

How's about, they are taking this stand because it's what they believe in? Like so many other commentators, Ashley is going in with her pre-conceived ideas, and ignoring the facts, especially (but not exclusively) the ones that don't support her prejudices. Chatter from the chatterati.

The best thing I can say about "alarm clock Britain" is that it's so much more inclusive than Dr. Brown's "hard-working families", acknowledging the fact that not everyone has children.

And I can see the point Mr. Clegg is trying to get at: he's not barracking for the wealthy, not aiming to provide everything from the centre, he's positioning himself as part of the great mass of the population. People who think that they know their lives better than the government does. And that belief is probably right.

He's talking to the working classes who wouldn't naturally think outside the C/Lab box, not by some nebulous expression of values, but by practical action.

You're right that Mr. Clegg didn't give enough time to his party's work for the disadvantaged - the universal credit is a fine idea, but it's complex and has been ignored in the media, and Clegg just glossed over it and moved on. "Shifting power from state to people" is fine, but it's not exactly going to put food on the table.

And yet... and yet... it's an attempt to say that the Lib Dems are actually in touch with regular people, it's not just a party for the leafy suburbs. "Alarm clock Britain" is prose, when I've grown accustomed to the party talking in poetry.

Maybe the whole point is that it doesn't resonate with the party faithful, but helps reach out to others, those who were tempted in last year and now feel a bit disillusioned. These people are encouraged by Labour loyalists, those who are shocked - shocked! - that the Lib Dems aren't their pocket party. Mr. Clegg isn't addressing the Jackie Ashleys of the world, but the people who ask only that their government doesn't leave them stranded, and does things well.

Yes, the Lib Dems do tremendous work on social justice, and it's a shame that hasn't been trumpeted more loudly. The trouble is that the UK political scene is so utterly debased as to confuse good works and evil actions. For instance, reports today suggest that the Lib Dems have prevented the Conservatives from unilaterally repudiating the European Convention on Human Rights. Tomorrow's press will encourage a large number of people to see this as A Bad Thing, without bothering to check even the most basic facts.

So much done, so much more to do.

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