We’re now on the final leg of our 2014 conference tour, making our way to Glasgow for Liberal Democrat conference. This is the second year in a row that the Lib Dems have held their set-piece in Glasgow, and as the final conference before the election gives Nick Clegg the opportunity to respond to the speeches of Ed Miliband and David Cameron, and to set the political agenda for the autumn months.
The Deputy Prime Minister will oversee a conference conducted in the final weeks of their coalition with the Conservatives, which has taken on a noticeably uneasy tone since the early days of the rose garden. Limited parliamentary business over the past year has hinted that areas of agreement between the two parties are few and far between, and there is a suggestion that party activists (on both sides) in particular are relishing the opportunity to return to campaign against one another.
The political outlook for the Liberal Democrats remains challenging, as evidenced by their failure to significantly improve their poll rating over the past year, regularly coming in behind UKIP as the fourth most popular party. Paradoxically, it is easy to make the case that of the three largest parliamentary parties, it is the Lib Dems who are most likely to find themselves in power in 2015. With both Miliband and Cameron facing a struggle to lead their party to a majority, a second successive coalition government remains more than a distinct possibility, casting Clegg as kingmaker once again.
For the Lib Dems, there may well be a disparity between their national polling performance and the results that they obtain at a constituency level. With a reputation for effective community campaigning, the Lib Dems have managed to entrench themselves in a number of seats and their support in these areas can be difficult to shift; witness Mike Thornton’s by-election success in Chris Huhne’s old seat of Eastleigh for an idea of the support than the Lib Dems can retain. However as Labour and Conservative veterans will know seeking election as a governing party is a different prospect, and Clegg’s keynote speech will have to give party activists encouragement that they can rise to the challenge.
Glasgow will form the backdrop for the launch of The Yellow Book for the Voluntary Sector, a product of CAF’s coalition with ACEVO for 2014 conference season. The list of contributors includes a number of particularly popular MPs such Norman Lamb, Julian Huppert and Martin Horwood, and also features contributions from a number of peers and parliamentary candidates. We’ll be launching the book at our fringe event, which you can come along to at:
1815 – 1915
Tuesday 7th October
Carron 1, SECC
(Inside the secure zone, refreshments provided)
We’ll also be available on our stand throughout conference where we’ll be promoting our ‘Charity Street’ report, and talking about CAF’s work more widely. Come join us at E7 in the exhibition hall to see what we’re up to, and to take part in our conference game!
We hope to see you in Glasgow.