...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 3422: What Daddy WOULD Have Said Was…


Honestly, politics moves so FAST these days, there is no time to let Daddy Richard off for a couple of days is there!

Off we went to Brum again, to a BIG SHED near the motorway, to attend the FLASHMOB CONFERENCE on the Coalition between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatories AKA the Solihull-Pyongyang twinning ceremony.

(Look, even Captain Clegg was surprised by the overwhelming support from Party members for the deal!)

There were a-hundred-and-seventy-two speaker's cards put in, and I'm afraid Daddy Richard was NOT one of the thirty-eight called. So here is the speech wot he wrote:
As many Liberal Democrat Ministers will be thinking this weekend: it's my first time… and I'm terrified!

Conference, I support this agreement, but we must never get comfortable with it.

We have to avoid the great error of Labour's first term – Labour's mistake was to be concerned only with the next election, not with doing anything. They were in power only for the sake of being in power. The spin and triangulation were all with a view to wrong-footing the opposition – or, in the case of Mr Blair and Mr Brown, each other – with an eye on the political advantage, not the good of the country. It was only ever about getting re-elected.

Conference, this coalition is never going to be… campaigning for re-election.

That's why we have to make a real difference, a Liberal difference right now.

People ask – usually the media, who can't get their head out of the playground politics of the past – how are Liberal Democrats to campaign against Conservatives if we are together in coalition. I tell you it's easy: you just say to people, look at what we've done in Government and ask them wouldn't you rather your government was a little bit mre Liberal?

That's why we have to make a Liberal difference right now.

Just for once, people are really paying attention to us, and we can – must – use that to change the political weather, to change the way that we frame the debate, to change the LANGUAGE of politics.

During the election, we we're attacked – attacked by both other parties – for our policy on immigration, and it was because we allowed them to frame the question, to define immigration as the "problem".

Immigration is NOT the problem – the problem is housing, the problem is jobs, the problem is employers forcing wages down, the problem is pressure on services… immigration is a scape-goat for these things, a convenient excuse from a Labour government that had let down its own voters.

Conference, I live in Tower Hamlets, one of the most diverse Boroughs in the United Kingdom. And, yes, despite lying in the shadow of glittering wealth at Canary Wharf, one of the poorest. Look at our history: Huguenots in Spitalfields, Chinese in Limehouse, Jews in Cable Street, Bangladeshi in Brick Lane… these weren't people coming to "sponge" off us; they were coming to take up the opportunity that a free and Liberal society offered.

David Cameron is being hailed as "the new Disraeli"; when Disraeli was Prime Minister there weren't any Little Englander worries about immigration; people were welcomed for the talents that they could bring.

Britain is built on immigration. We are stronger for immigration, for all those people with get up and go who got up and came here, to these lucky islands.

But it's more personal than that. My partner is Alex Wilcock – you may have heard the cheers for his intervention – and his Mum is a "Non-EU immigrant". If there'd been a cap on immigration, I might never have seen my Alex.

So, conference, approve this motion, support the coalition, but don't get comfortable with it. Don't accept that the other Parties can frame the debate.

Let us make a Liberal difference.
As you may have guessed, though, of the hundred-and-ten interventions submitted, Daddy Alex WAS one of the thirty drawn out of the hat. Hooray!

Daddy Alex pointed out that he WANTED a PROGRESSIVE alliance… but with only fifty-seven Liberal Democrats and ONE Northern Ireland Alliance MP, the Progressives didn't have much of a majority! But even WITH only fifty-eight MPs, LOOK at what we've achieved – and THINK what we could do with a majority! We HAVE made the Conservatories better – and the ALTERNATIVE was a partnership between Conservatories and the DUP (Deeply Unpopular Party) with the sectarian self-interest of the Unionists making them much, much WORSE!

This, said Daddy, was our FIRST CHANCE of national power in almost fourty years of his LIFE – and he didn't want to wait ANOTHER forty years and be wheeled on when he was seventy-eight to say: it's ANOTHER economic crisis and finally ANOTHER Hung Parliament maybe we should have a go this time…

…which was followed very smartly by Mr Richard Moore who said that he WAS seventy-eight but he didn't need wheeling on just yet, thank you very much!

Did I mention Conference gave Daddy a CHEER!

Oh, and then we all voted to let Captain Clegg use the IMPERIOUS curse on Mr Balloon…



Andrew Hickey said...

I'm going to be working on a motion to go before Autumn conference to revise our immigration policy to make it more liberal. Thanks for this...

lizw said...

Both of those are fantastic speeches. I'm sorry Daddy Richard didn't get to deliver his.