Here is what I told The Guardian about Nick Clegg’s Glasgow conference speech, one which got the warmest buzz from departing conference reps that I have encountered for a long time:
This was a much easier speech for Nick Clegg to give than he expected a few days ago. The votes on high-profile issues such as tax policy and Trident all went the leadership’s way, and in good natured debates too.
The speech’s main message was of course already given away in the stage set – making the economy stronger and society fairer. Its key new policy – free school meals – is very much in tune with making the country fairer by giving everyone a fair start in life. (Good too to see it extended to disadvantaged students in FE colleges, so often over-looked in political debates about education). The Lib Dems may not be offering motherhood, but we are offering free apple pie. And that went down very well in the hall.
The mood of the conference hall was instructive – it is not only the party leader who wants and expects to be in government to 2015 and beyond, so too do party activists.
The long list of policies that are a favourite with Nadine Dorries but have been stopped by the Liberal Democrats in government worked particularly well. Running through it all was a confident pitch to be in coalition again after 2015, and the warmest applause was for Clegg’s calls to end two-party politics. In other words – vote Lib Dem again to get a continuing move towards a stronger economy and a fairer society.