Don Foster MP*

Liberal Democrats Set For Another Successful Conference

Charles Kennedy and the Liberal Democrats will arrive in Brighton for their federal conference in optimistic mood.

Main ImageThe Lib Dems are continuing to enjoy their best run in the polls for a decade, having been on 20% or above in ICM's polls for over a year now. Combined with the party's unprecedented 30% in the local elections in May this justifies their confidence that they are set to gain seats from Labour and the Conservatives alike at the next general election.

The political agenda over the summer has been dominated by Iraq and the Hutton Inquiry, issues that can be expected to be covered in keynote speeches by both Charles Kennedy (Thursday) and his Shadow Foreign Secretary Menzies Campbell (Wednesday) as well as potentially in emergency motions.

However the main focus of the conference will be on the public services agenda, with important speeches from party spokespeople such as Shadow Chancellor Matthew Taylor (Tuesday) and Shadow Health Secretary Evan Harris (Wednesday) among others likely to add further detail to the radical plans set out by Charles Kennedy in July, resulting from the party's recent spending review. Most notably these include proposals to slim down central government to free up extra money for doctors, police and other frontline services.

On Monday the focus will be on non-Westminster politics, with speeches from Scottish Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace and leading MEPs Diana Wallis and Graham Watson, among others. On Monday morning the party will debate their pre-manifesto for next year's European Parliament elections, 'Common Problems, Shared Solutions'.

Conference representatives will also be debating and voting on five new policy papers during the conference, covering commerce, social care, animal welfare, energy and the economy. Additionally there are policy motions on the agenda covering issues as varied as road safety, council tax and prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. On Tuesday afternoon Simon Hughes MP will make a keynote speech as Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor.

Conference Highlights

Monday 22nd September
09.30: Speech by Diana Wallis MEP, Leader of UK Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament
11.00: Speech by Graham Watson MEP, Leader of ELDR Group in the European Parliament
11.45: Question and Answer Session with Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP
12.30: Speech by David Ford MLA, Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
14.45: Speech by Rt Hon Jim Wallace QC MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Deputy First Minister of Scotland
15.00: Debate on Energy Policy Paper, to be opened by Andrew Stunell MP, Liberal Democrat energy spokesperson

Tuesday 23rd September
10.45: Speech by Matthew Taylor MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor
12.15: Presentation of Awards, followed by speech by Lord Dholakia, Party President
14.15: Speech by Phil Willis MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary
15.15: Speech by Simon Hughes MP, Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor
15.30: Debate on Commerce Policy Paper, opened by Dr Vincent Cable MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry

Wednesday 24th September
09.30: Debate on a motion on "Prisoners in Guantanamo Bay", opened by Simon Hughes MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary
10.15: Speech by Rt Hon Menzies Campbell QC MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary
14.15: Debate on a motion on "Taxing More Fairly, Spending More Wisely in Healthcare", opened by Dr Evan Harris MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary
15.15: Speech by Steve Webb MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Thursday 25th September
09.30: Debate on Social Care Policy Paper, opened by Paul Burstow MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Social Care
11.45: Keynote speech by the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP

Don's Programme
Details of Don's conference programme will be online soon.

This article published: 06/09/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank


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