Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back from Bournemouth

I’ve just returned from five busy days at Liberal Democrat Conference. This year we are the only one of the three main parties to use a traditional seaside venue, and we were rewarded with sunshine at the weekend! There is so much going on, and as usual the fringe was the most interesting part, its now so large it almost overshadows the business in the main hall.
On Monday I chaired a debate on ‘Welfare: who provides with Cardiff MP Jenny Willott, and John McInally, the Vice President of the Public and Commercial Services Union. This was the most successful fringe event PCS has ever run at Lib Dem Conference, and there was a lively discussion with lots of questions. Grove Wood was being discussed by one of the planning committees today, so I left Conference early to get back to Bristol, but I did manage to see an excellent presentation by the successful Lib Dem Group running Newcastle. I felt quite inspired by what they’ve achieved, and even more determined to ensure we win the seats we need to get an overall majority in Bristol next year.

Sadly I was also witness to an unsavoury incident, which has been reported, in the national press. On Monday morning when I was handing out leaflets at the Conference Centre Adrian Sanders MP pushed past me, almost knocking me over. He physically attacked Mark Littlewood (the party’s former Press Officer) and Stewards and Bournemouth Centre security staff intervened to calm things down. I understand the incident was recorded on CCTV, and a written apology has been made and accepted. Regardless of who anyone is, this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and I was extremely saddened to see this at an event designed to promote free expression and debate.

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