Patrick Hayes reports from the Liberal Democrat conference:
What is the most ridiculous aspect of the Liberal Democrat 2011 conference? MP Sarah Teather’s cringeworthy attempt at a stand-up routine during her speech? Or maybe business secretary Vince Cable’s attempt to paint the current economic crisis as the equivalent of a war?
Actually, far and away the most farcical element of the four-day conference so far has been the fact that the Liberal Democrats persist in calling themselves ‘Liberals’, while at the same time announcing a range of policies that could deal a bodyblow to individual freedom. From plans to introduce parenting classes, to proposals to ban Page 3 girls and give the state powers to put investigative journalists behind bars, a rebranding as the Illiberal Democrats must surely be in the pipeline.
This trend was evident before the conference had even begun, with an unprecedented vetting of conference delegates that reportedly led to lots of members refusing to attend on the basis that the checks were ‘authoritarian, disproportionate and wrong’. Police advised that at least two individuals should be banned outright from the conference, with the Lib Dems agreeing in one of the cases.