Monday, 15 September 2008

Lib Dem conference - Day Three

Still haven't built up the courage to go for an early morning swim in the English Channel but I wish some of the delegates would.

Why, oh why is there not enough deodorant to go around at the Lib Dem conference. The foyer of the Highcliff Hotel smelled more cabbagy than an old Aeroflot departure lounge last night and it wasn't even that packed.

"Some of these people haven't washed since Friday," said one wag, holding her nose. "Some of these people haven't washed since the SDP," replied a political veteran.


Lehman Brothers goes down for billions of dollars in the US mortgage market. Who says Alistair Darling was exaggerating now?


Someone fragrant in the hotel lobby in Bournemouth was Andrew Wilson, former SNP MSP and now a corporate affairs supremo with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

There's no point in pleading with him to come back to politics when the lure of a normal life, albeit it a frantic one with a young family, is so strong. "See you in ten years time," he jokes. Alex Salmond would just be coming up to retirement age about then, so the timing is right.

Still waiting for the big debate on Nick Clegg's tax cutting plans kicks off so, to kill time, the Scottish press corp torment Alasdair Carmicheal MP and George Lyon, prospective MEP, about the European Union. Or was that the other way around?

Orkney and Shetland MP Carmicheal has been appointed by Tavish Scott as his election co-ordinator in Scotland and his first big task is the European election campaign next June.

Alasdair resigned his post in the Lib Dem shadow cabinet over a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty but he is insisted, as we teased him, that he was at one with the party over Europe.

George Lyon was keen to emphasis how he would make the EU work for the consumer by bringing down prices and regulating markets.

Did this also this mean that he would support dismantling the Common Agricultural Policy, the notorious agricultural subsidy system that swallows 47% of the EU budget, and provides support for farmers like George himself.

"There is no way I would support reduction in support to farmers in Scotland without similar reductions throughout the world," replied the past president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland.
Then he was off - he has a harvest to get in.

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