My interest in politics came late in life. I
always voted, but didn’t get personally involved until the Make Poverty History
rally in 2000. Since then I’ve been on a demo, done a couple of sleepouts in
solidarity with destitute asylum seekers, and joined the Lib Dems three years ago.
Within two weeks of my joining, there had been two major scandals involving senior Lib
Dem politicians, and I wondered what I had done. Now, aged 61, I’m enjoying my
first party conference, thanks to an NCVO bursary.
I chose the word enjoying rather than just attending.
I haven’t heard all that much, and have only seen the main speeches on TV, but
despite the gloomy economic prognosis and the crises in Europe and beyond, I
have to say that I’m impressed so far – and for two main
Firstly, the MPs I have heard and seen so
far are a pretty good bunch. Tim Farron is a really passionate guy who speaks
his mind – very unusual for a party president, and definitely no ‘yes man’. I’ve
always liked Vince Cable, because he makes economics comprehensible to the
ignorant like me. What can you say about Paddy Ashdown, the elder statesman of
the party? He just keeps on going, still as measured and thoughtful as ever,
still wanting to make a difference to the world. And Lynn Featherstone did the
unthinkable yesterday, giving fulsome praise to Labour for a policy they
introduced in the last government.
That leads me on to my second point, and
one of the main reasons I joined the Lib Dems – a comparative absence of spin
and mudslinging. I know it’s all relative, but I hate politicians who
manipulate truth and rubbish opponents rather than talk policy. So far I
haven’t heard any cheap jokes and jibes at the expense of Labour and the
Tories. Maybe the Lib Dems really do believe in the politics of consensus.
Dave Smith, Director of the Boaz Trust, a Christian organisation serving destitute asylum seekers in