Katie reports on some of the highlights of the Liberal Democrats Party Conference 2018.
Liberal Democrats Party Conference
For three days in the middle of September everyone’s favourite summer spot, Brighton, was invaded by the Liberal Democrat’s 2018 party conference. Vince Cable made a less than rousing or inspiring speech, the wish for a second referendum was heard loud and clear and sadly for the Lib Dems nothing was said that will increase their popularity amongst the electorate. Overall the conference was relatively uneventful: a lot of mud was sling at May, Corbyn and Johnson but little was established as an alternative or pointed to as the new hope for British politics. That is apart from a push for a second referendum on the terms and conditions of Brexit.
The Lib Dems’ party conference reaffirmed them as the party that intend to stand firmly against the horror and tragedy that, in their view, is going to be Brexit. Manchester Liberal Democrat Sarah Brown retorted that “The Lib Dems will stand up for our pro-European principles” and MEP Catherine Bearder said of Brexit “its crazy, its mad, it is utter lunacy”. Clearly, there is a consensus amongst the Lib Dem’s and their members that Brexit is to be obstructed, however the important question they need to address is whether this is a sentiment held across the wider electorate. The odds are seemingly stacked against them given that many of the 17.4 million people that voted Leave in 2016 have not changed their view and that some ‘remainers’, including the Labour leader and many of his MPs, fear that a People’s Vote would be a highly undemocratic move.
The most significant moments in the any party’s conference should be the leader’s noteworthy and exciting speech. The people should be up on their feet, crying out for change, tolerance, stability, anything! Vince Cable was unable to get his audience truly interested in what he had to say. The ‘moderates’ see these are important times and that there is space for more traditional, less divisive politics but Cable is evidently not the man the people are going to get behind. His reminder that he is planning to remain at the helm until Brexit is either stopped or completed was met with a rather lacklustre and unenthusiastic response. We seem to be at a time in politics where the party leaders are not confidently supported by too many of their MPs, party members and voters and the Lib Dem’s are no exception to this new rule.
Even so, at this politically unusual time the Liberal Democrat’s could really be making strides. The Conservative Party is in meltdown around Brexit negotiation, party infighting, resignation of prominent cabinet ministers and the opposition are failing to capitalise on it. The Lib Dems should be leap frogging over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party which has been crippled by varying ideological goals and an anti-Semitism crisis of truly shocking proportions. The two major parties are undeniably failing the British public but our trusty third party seems ineffectual and stuck, with uncharismatic leadership and a response to Brexit that many on the left and right simply can’t get behind. The Lib Dems need to get a new lease of energy, something that they truly stand for and care about rather than just being the party that rattles against Brexit or is somewhere between two parties that have rushed to the extremes. A party wont gain support by pointing out what it isn’t but by establishing loud and clear what it is.