Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Lib Dems Did Me Out Of Breakfast

I don't think I will ever understand the Lib Dems. There is something very right about them, but at the same time very wrong. It was quite giggleworthy hearing Nick Clegg talk today of being 'ready to be PM' (sorry to set you all off again) and it did strike me that he would have more chance if he had a parliamentary party which wasn't disconnected from a fair proprtion of their membership.

In hindsight, my reason for going down to Bournemouth is hard to ascertain. It was perhaps curiosity, perhaps the lure of a libertarian fringe meeting (though I've been to similar before), or perhaps because I had extricated some freetime and was attracted by the offer of a free glass of wine (and the rest).

Having booked what turned out to be a rather handy hotel room, with breakfast bunged in for £45, at 10pm the night before, I set off around lunchtime with a borrowed Tomtom, my first time driving with a strangely distracting screen in front of me (glass half empty, someone will propose banning them soon, probably Lib Dems funny enough), and with a decal of Bart Simpson pulling a moon on the back of the company runaround knackered Focus. Sitting in the bar to access the WiFi, Lib Dems started wandering in après-conference - straight past the attendant latin barman and onto the smoking deck to light whopping cigars, roll-ups, you name it.

How very odd, thought I. This is the most anti-smoking party of the big three. The only one who included a blanket smoking ban in their 2005 manifesto (so liberal, huh?), unlike the party who actually passed it. And they have enthusiastic smokers in their ranks?

That was just a taster.

So I wandered for 2 minutes down the hill (told you the hotel was handy) to the Politics and Prohibition do, and was quaffing an overpriced Fosters when the excellent Chris Snowdon happened along, fresh from being harangued by a quite seriously deranged lunatic.

Having tapped his wallet for the next beverage, the meeting started, and my view of the Lib Dems became even more confused.

Left to right: Tom Clougherty (Adam Smith Institute), Simon Clark (Forest), Mark Littlewood (Liberal Vision), Charlotte Gore (Lib Dem überblogger), Colin Eldridge (Lib Dem Councillor and PPC), Dr Belinda Brookes-Gordon (Psychologist and Lib Dem Councillor)

Almost 60 of the buggers turned up. Yellow lanyards were the new black, so much so that I almost wish I'd been wearing one. Almost.

This is the party which parrots the word 'ban' at almost every opportunity, yet here were freedom-lovers piling in and really enjoying the content.

Curiouser and curiouser.

The speakers, without exception, were ... err ... exceptional. Colin Eldridge from Liverpool was the target of most of the post-debate questions. Not surprising considering he is a proponent of the move to give films an 18 certificate if they contain smoking scenes. He put up a spirited defence, with such vigour that, large guy that he is, he must have partaken of a tray full of Red Bull before sitting down, though this attender (not attendee, it's just wrong) wondered if his message would have been tailored differently to a less libertarian audience. His motive was, of course, to protect the chiiildren. What's more, the kids asked for it and were in no way whatsoever guided to that point of view. Not at all. His speech can be listened to here (bad recording, turn the speakers up).

Belinda Brookes-Gordon kinda overran - a lot, but her detailed explanation of why the restrictions on the sex trade are quite ridiculous and counterproductive was well-received by members of the most proscriptive party in the parliamentary closed-shop triumverate.

It was all the more baffling when we crashed the Marriott Highcliff Hotel at blur o'clock. Wife-beater was the only draught available for southern beer philistines such as I, and boy was it consumed with enthusiasm. The only alcohol limit that was being observed was the one which said you've had too many when your cash runs out.

It finished at 5am, and only then because the staff really wanted to go home (big yawn), thanks very much. We're not talking a few trailing dregs of humanity here either, the place was rammed inside and out. Imbibing inside, puffing outside whilst trampling on broken wine glass detritus. I was starting to believe that I'm not such a night-owl after all in comparison to these animals.

And everyone I spoke to stressed the 'liberal' credentials of the Lib Dems. How very liberal they were themselves, too. And I fully believe them, if only because I saw it with my own self-abused double-seeing eyes.

I wandered lonely as a zig-zag staggering cloud back to my hotel thinking that this party is full of people who are as liberal as me {hic}. So why is the overwhelming message from their PLPs so very different? The only conclusion must be that the rank and file are intensely welcoming of liberal ideas and thinking, but the policymakers are, as Charlotte Gore points out on her blog, scared of fully expressing what the liberal amongst us want to hear.

We need our politicians to have the confidence and courage to re-frame this debate, to let a valid, reasoned argument be heard in public, in the mainstream and not just out here in the fringes.

This was playing on my mind as I sunk into an unbelievably deep sleep which resulted in my not stirring until 2 hours after my alarm had no doubt gone apoplectic.

And I missed breakfast. Bastards.


Frank Davis said...

So they're small-l liberals to a man (or woman) until it comes to presenting themselves publicly, at which point they become fascists?

No wonder I don't vote for them any more.

Junican said...

I listened to the Liverpool man giving his reasons for the wish to ban films with smoking content. I could not hear most of his speech (bad recording), but I did pick up on one relevant remark, and that was, "This is what the young people of Liverpool want us to do (or words to that effect)"

I took part in the 'consultation exercise' re the film ban, and at no time was it stated that there had been 'consultations' with young people in Liverpool.

It is manifestly true that this chap was LYING. The youth consultation did not take place. He lied.

UNLESS..... he meant that, in the consultation exercise, SOME respondents were young, and some of them were in favour of the ban. In which case, he could say, "Young people in Liverpool have told us..." - which could be three out of three thousand.

It would have been interesting if some person in the audience had asked the question, "Precisely HOW MANY young people in Liverpool told you...."

Unknown said...

Dick, why not just come clean. You went down there because you could sniff a bucket load of free nosh, me, me, me that’s all it was…but most shocking of all, £45 for a room, I wouldn’t have gone above £40, or even £30, well perhaps £35.

Here in my neck of the woods there’re having £25 specials…but you do have do a day’s potato picking, or worse chicken catching to make up the difference. I had to do a full shift once catching...I don't mind telling you there are some big heavy birds out there - some even have tits too.

Anyway, you tapped Chris Snowden’s wallet for a round before just before going into the meeting, I don’t suppose you bought him one back then…nice to live cheap – eh Dick?

I’m shocked by the way that any Lib Dems smoke, aren’t they all carrot crunchers, or is that what they put between their toes as a fashion statement? But it’s good to hear so many of them came to the meeting, that must be a positive move forward for the cause.

But what I really want to know is this…was Mark Oaten there flogging his book, or was he rummaging around outside in the bushes looking for rent boys? Ok, so there weren’t any bushes handy…maybe he brought his own plastic concoctions and his own bob-a-blowjob noncers – but was he there?

Wife-Beater, the only draught? You’re lucky; we only have ‘Butt-Licker The Big Lick Special’ – tasty though!

BTS said...

No orgy? That would have been liberal..

BTS said...

w/v: bolark

Unknown said...

You forgot the bloody tomatoes, didn't you Dick!

Christopher Snowdon said...

It was a very good night. I would have been amazed if you'd made it to breakfast. If only the Libs we met were representative of the party as a whole.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Junican: Someone did indeed pick Mr Eldridge up on his assertion that the kids had asked for the measure themselves. The commenter all but saying he didn't believe him. Charlotte Gore took issue with quite a bit of what he had to say, too.

Chris: "Anyway, you tapped Chris Snowden’s wallet for a round before just before going into the meeting, I don’t suppose you bought him one back then".

I fully intended to but the free bar started after the meeting - some you win. ;-) (actually, I returned the favour at the hotel ... I think).

TBY: D'oh!

Haribo said...

Good write up; pleasure to meet you in person.

DaveA said...

Liberal Vision and Mark are described by Iain Dale as: "He is firmly on the libertarian wing of the Lib Dems and is viewed as a right wing extremist by many in the party’s hierarchy."

Mark is viewed to be the 47th most influential Lib Dem. The principle problem is that the Lib Dems inherited David Owen's Social Democrats. Certainly the Whigs of the 19th century and their free trade, liberal agenda is literally a 100 years ago.

Anyway Mark was kind enough to publish my article on his blog.

Dave Atherton

Junican said...

Dick P,

I am glad that someone picked up Mr Eldridge on the matter of 'young people asked for the ban'.

I responded to the Liverpool C C public consultation re the film ban. I vaguely remember that there was a specific part of the questionnaire devoted to 'young people'. I cannot remember the details.

It is easy to see how a few 'young people' (actually, parents of the young people) could dominate that part of the questionnaire and provoke a STATISTICALLY inaccurate result.

Mr Eldridge would, of course, be unaware of the fix.

Anonymous said...

The only item that crosses my mind
when anyone mentions Liberal Democrat.........Luger

More than one eye