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Chiltern Liberal Democrats take part in Bournemouth Autumn conference

October 2, 2017 10:12 AM
By Walid Marzouk

Paddy Ashdown speaking at a conference meeting.

Paddy Ashdown speaks at conference meeting

Local Liberal Democrats were well represented at the party's Autumn Conference, held recently in Bournemouth.

Walid Marzouk writes:

Fight back Phase 2

More than 4000 attended the 2017 Autumn conference in Bournemouth, the highest number for the last few years. Around 20% were new members which is extremely encouraging and higher than expected. As for the young, their presence was felt and the number attending was encouraging. Every session we attended was packed to the rafters and the main hall, which is often half full for the less "exciting sessions", was full for every session.

From the Chilterns, there are normally 3-4 people attending. This year it was double that, including Chair, Ruth Juett and Vera Head. The warm welcome Vera received from so many senior people, who still show gratitude for her campaigning skills and helping them win elections, was wonderful.

Jo Swinson, the newly re-elected MP for East Dunbartonshire, attacked the constant Trumpy - Faragy - shouty - arsey commentary drowning out more normal moderate and liberal voices, which was a wonderful description of the right wing press and Brexiteers.

Sir Vince's Q&A was a masterly session demonstrating his wide range of expertise, offering solutions to most of our country's problems on the NHS, education, security and the economy, calling again for a grown up approach to politics. Wise yet not afraid of radical solutions and new ideas.

He reminded people that ONLY the Liberal Democrats said No to the Iraq war and that the party had also warned about the banking crisis and we were right. Now we are once again proudly on our own against Brexit and we are right again. But, we are not UKIP in reverse, we are much more than that.

Lord Brian Paddick, in a workshop on Community Policing, highlighted that we are in the midst of a severe resources crisis and while more police are needed, community in the form of local councils, village societies and other organisations can help.

Lord Paddy Ashdown and our latest and brightest MP Layla Moran - who represents Oxford West and Abingdon - were on the panel of a workshop on the young. The recurring theme was for the Liberal Democrats to join the young with more radical and internationalist ideas and find again their intellectual origin.

Tim Farron was his inspirational, driven and passion-fuelled self on what is wrong with our society and how Liberal Democrats have the answers - there were so many standing ovations some people did not bother sitting down.

To me, this was Fightback Phase 2, with the growing party looking to become radical again with challenging views, not afraid of being alone when we know we are right.

It is a disservice to the Country to have May's Conservatives in Government and Corbyn's Labour as the main opposition while the Liberal Democrats' podium and panels were filled with politicians with so much more intellect, more expertise and more skills than other parties. Our time will come.