A surreal Lib Dem party conference

Last weekend was the first Liberal Democrat autumn conference since 2019 – last year it was cancelled because the Queen died. And it was very possibly the last Liberal Democrat autumn conference before the next General Election.

So it was always going to be quite intense, but for me it seemed especially so. I had a heck of a time, in a good way. As a friend and colleague said, “You were the darling of the conference”.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the main conference rally on the first night. This link should take you to the right place in the recording, so you don’t have to watch the preceding ten and a half hours first. (You’re welcome. 😜)

My debut was on the uplifting subject of poo (the appalling dumping of raw sewage into rivers, lakes, and the sea, by profit-maximising water companies). And it’s the first time I’ve ever been introduced onstage by a man in a wetsuit – thanks, Josh Babarinde.

The wetsuit theme continued the next day. Having had fish and chips with the Deputy Leader, Daisy Cooper on the Saturday, on Sunday I got a message from Ami in the press team, saying “Call me ASAP!”

Turned out the plan had been for Ed Davey to do a photo opp with Wendy Chamberlain MP and Josh B – paddleboarding. But it was blowing an absolute hoolie in Bournemouth, and the sea was too rough. So at the last minute the plan had been changed from paddleboarding to kayaking. They were two-man kayaks so suddenly the press team needed another person. “Who do we know who’s watery?” they wondered.

So a couple of hours later I found myself in a very surreal situation – sea kayaking with Sir Ed Davey, and looking on while Josh cheekly hopped out of our boat to capsize Sir Ed and Wendy out of their kayak. No jokes, please, about toppling our leader. 😆

(It’s lucky Wendy is such a good sport –  she got completely dunked and all you can see of her in the photo that appeared in all the national press is the sole of one foot. She definitely took one for the team. Wendy’s fabulous, by the way – and congrats to her on her Carers Leave Bill being passed, giving 2.4 million carers across the UK a statutory right to take five days of unpaid leave per year.)

There followed a couple of pieces for ITV and BBC, and BBC Radio 4’s World At One with Sarah Montague (I’m in the headlines at 45 seconds in, and again at 22:35 mins, just after Party President Mark Pack – talking about how the Lib Dems stand for a fairer, more caring, more compassionate society.)

So yes, the ego was having a rare old time, and all in all it was a fantastic conference. And I’ve come home with a keen sense of just how much work lies ahead. In the last General Election, in 2019, the Liberal Democrats came second in 91 constituencies, 80 of those behind a Conservative. With the Tories (and the country) in disarray, those seats are ours for the taking.

But there is much to do, by our party collectively and by me personally.

It’s lucky I enjoy a challenge – bring it on!

Roz at Large

I’ll be at the Planet Local Summit in Bristol on tomorrow and Saturday.

On Thursday at 7pm there is a public meeting at Sherston Village Hall about an apparently perverse decision to overturn the community’s plan for a new doctor’s surgery – a plan that got 94% support in a village-wide referendum. I shall be there to support the village in ensuring their plan goes ahead. The experts on what a community needs are the people who live in it – not an opaque bureaucracy that seems intent on more and more centralised control.

Then I’m appearing with Wilder Journeys editor Laurie King at the Blue Earth Summit in Bristol on 11th October at 5pm, and speaking at Explorers Connect, also in Bristol, at 7pm on 12th October.

In the meantime, if you live in the Cotswolds you’re likely to see me out and about on a frequent basis. Look out for the yellow hat – and I’ll be under it!

Quote of the Week

“A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role.”

— Yehuda Berg
Have a great week!


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