I've been much involved in my 'Elderly Care' work over the last few days, so only now catching up on what's been happened at the Lib Dem Conference in Bournemouth. The only consistent theme seems to have been a full-blooded attack on the Conservative Party, and David Cameron in particular. "Who's the nasty party now?" is a question that occurs to me. It wouldn't be so worthy of comment if the Lib Dems were not always banging on so piously about a new type of politics. Anyway, it bothers us not, because it won't do them any good. Lofty disdain is the appropriate response - and more love bombs.
The reputation of Vince Cable seems to have taken a bit of a battering. The start of the Conference coincided with appearance on blogs of an interview between Mr Cable and Andrew Neil, which torpedoed the myth that he had predicted and warned us all about the financial crisis. The much-feted Finance Spokesman then informed us of a series of public spending cuts that he supported - including the cancellation of the planned military training centre at St Athan, in the Vale of Glamorgan. His egotistical self-confidence has reached such a level that he didn't even bother to tell the Welsh Lib Dems before he announced it. Then he proceeded to announce a 'Mansion Tax', his purpose being to press the 'envy' button on the Conference floor. He also delivered a speech which every report I've read dismissed as ineffective and 'envy based'. Here are a few quotes from a man whom some people speak of in almost saintly terms. Describing the Conservatives he said; "a team of young things who have no beliefs or convictions, beyond a sense of entitlement to rule, and a mission to look after their own......whose lifetime experience of business is confined to managing their Bullingdon Club bar accounts" and "We have a so-called opposition which is callow and pitifully ill-equipped - politically, morally and intellectually".
Perhaps the biggest failure of the Conference has been Nick Clegg and Vince Cable's efforts to portray the Lib Dems as being cost cutters. Let us set aside the St Athan fiasco. The eye catching announcement was that the policy of abolishing tuition fees may be abandoned. But Charles Kennedy waded in and by today, we had Evan Harris, who will be responsible for the General Election manifesto reassuring us that the tuition fees policy will remain unchanged. Not surprising, but it does mean that the Conference will end with no clear message about public spending, or taxation - or who is 'in charge'. Just watched Nick Clegg on Newsnight, and he was making little sense on this. He just kept repeating that he's in favour of scrapping tuition fees, but that he doesn't believe the nation can afford it. For what its worth, I'd be in favour of abolishing tuition fees as well - if the necessary funding could be found in a bucket somewhere. All we are left with is an impression that they are very concerned about the Conservative threat to the re-election of current Lib Dem MPs, and that they don't like anyone who has worked hard and been successful, or anyone who happens to live in a big house.