>Who did best this conference season?

>As a party it is fair to say the Liberal Democrat’s will have come away feeling happiest this conference season. The leadership (and press office,) was probably expecting a difficult time, with mini rebellions continually springing up from the sandals and beard brigade. What actually happened was the party came together, had a rigorous debate, made positive decisions, and rather enjoyed people caring for once.

Labour will feel better having elected a leader.Unfortunately, that new leader is Ed Miliband. Only time will tell if they got right man, but they will feel that they are on a firmer footing now, and that they have some sense of direction. The job will be completed as the results of the Shadow Cabinet  elections are announced at 9pm this evening and posts on Friday. Undoubtedly though, conference will have left Labour with a renewed sense of optimism and purpose.

The Conservatives had the most disappointing conference. Perhaps everyone had just had enough by the time they got to Birmingham, but the sense of triumph at returning to power didn’t seem quite as rife as it perhaps should have been. Then the controversy of child benefits was ignited, and the leadership found itself in a proper fight, albeit a fight they wanted to have. A well delivered leaders speech saved the final scene, but many were left cold at the curtain call. 

There were though some individual performances from both MPs and media types, that stood out during the season. Here then, in no particular order, is VNs top 5 conference winners and losers:

Conference winners

  • Ed Miliband – Can’t ever really have believed he would pull it off. While his speech may have been dull, it was relatively well received in the hall. Even though the Milibrother saga dominated the conference, it couldn’t really have gone much better for him.
  • William Hague – He is never going to go down badly on home turf, but the raucous (for a Conservative conference,) reception  he received when introducing his cabinet colleagues shows just why he is so vital to the coalition.
  • Nick Clegg – Accurately delivered his most difficult speech as Party Leader, and managed to keep most people on side. He probably arrived in Liverpool fearing wide spread rebellion and rumblings. He will have left knowing most are sticking with him.
  • Iain Duncan-Smith – He may be the quiet man, but his work was at the heart of the Conservatives conference agenda.
  • Danny Alexander – An increasingly impressive and important figure within his party and the government. His excellent economics speech will have won many more converts to the actions his department is being forced to take.

Conference losers

  • David Miliband – Thought he was attending a coronation, but ended up being beaten to the throne. His speech brought the conference hall to it’s feet, but that will provide little comfort as he sits on the Opposition back benches.
  • Vince Cable – Rightly criticised for going overboard with the bank bashing, and referring to bankers as ‘Spivs’. He has gone from being one of the Liberal Democrat’s most potent weapons in opposition, to an increasingly dull one trick pony in Government.
  • David Cameron – Despite a fairly impressive key-note speech, the Prime Minister found himself requiring a hard-hat more often than he might have expected.
  • Andrew Neil – Close to becoming unwatchable.
  • Lembit Opik – To get a speaking slot a Lib Dem conference, you were required to write at least one Lembit joke…


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