14.09.2018

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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The Road To Recovery

This Parliamentary session was supposed to be a decent win for the Liberal Democrats. They increased their number of MPs by 50% (from 8 to 12) in the 2017 election - albeit with a small number of actual votes. They have a new leader, who's had time to bed in and get stuff sorted. They're a centrist party in a political landscape where the centre is largely being left alone. Most importantly, though,  they are the biggest (in terms of votes) anti-Brexit party. They are very clear that they want a 'people's vote' and an 'Exit from Brexit'. With 48% of the country (approx) wanting to remain, this should be a distinct advantage.

It hasn't all gone their way, though. They have struggled to attract the media coverage they might have liked. There were difficult headlines when Vince Cable (the leader) missed a very, very close Brexit vote because he was in a meeting to set up a new centrist anti-Brexit party (as opposed to his current anti-Brexit centrist party). Former leader Tim Farron also missed that vote. It is perhaps a sign of the times that when Cable made a big speech last week, the live stream the party had set up (on which I was relying to cover the announcements - no news channel saw it important enough) didn't work. Instead, there was a sentence about technical issues. They just haven't had the luck.

That said, there are green shoots. They've managed to escape all the infighting that's plagued the Big Two for months. Most polls have them back up in double figures for the first time since the 2017 election. They've been doing well in council by-elections. 

And so it's with this background that the Liberal Democrats head to Brighton for their annual conference. 

But we've had a sneak preview from Vince Cable himself. He gave a speech outlining a few changes he'd like to see. He wants to harness the online activists with some kind fo supporter scheme. He wants to make it easier for now members to stand for election. He wants to allow someone who is not an MP to lead the party. 

Meanwhile, back in the conference hall, the party will be demonstrating that they believe in their members and their policies. Only 4 MPs will have full speeches. That's Layla Moran, Tom Brake, Jo Swinson and Vince Cable. Many, many more MPs than that will address Labour and Conservative conference. Sure, the Lib Dems still have their attention-grabbing leader's speech at the end, but for this party, it's all about the members.

Saturday & Sunday - I'll be in Bath - at the egg theatre - performing with Comedy Club 4 Kids legend Tiernan Douieb in our family politics show 'How Does This Politics Thing Work Then'. It's creative, fun and informing. I absolutely love it. We're on at 11.30 and 3 on both days, so if you can make it to Bath, do come along. Suitable for children 6+.

Saturday - There are speeches today from Layla Moran (Education) and Tom Brake (Brexit). That's not what the day's all about, though. There are four policy motions, on animal welfare (after Brexit), restoring rights to the Windrush generation, establishing real freedom of choice (largely about abortion), and 'power for people and communities' which is largely around devolution. On that last one, I note that Wera Hobhouse MP is moving the motion. She's the MP for Bath, so clearly won't be able to catch the family show I'm doing live that day. Poor lady. Perhaps she'll duck out of the Sunday of conference and return home. We're on at 11.30 and 3pm, so hope is not entirely lost.

Sunday - Sunday is a bit more relaxed. A couple of motions on mental health and on migration. Jo Swinson has a speech. Then, in the afternoon there's a laid-back Q&A with Vince Cable. 
 
Monday - Now, do you remember I told you that Vince Cable wants to open up the Lib Dems so you don't need to be an MP to be leader? Well, anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller is talking to conference this morning at 11. It will be well worth tuning in to her speech at 11 on BBC Parliament. also addressing conference today is Jane Dodds, the Lib Dem leader in Wales.

Lots more policies to be debated today as well. Housing, Brexit, tax, the economy and plastic pollution are all going to be discussed.

Tuesday - The final day of the conference is traditionally all about the leader. Today we've got two. Willie Rennie, who leads the Lib Dems in the Scottish Parliament, is speaking before lunch. Then, grab a sandwich, before Vince Cable makes his closing speech. Scheduled to run from 2.10 until 3.30pm. Obviously, if you miss it, you can catch up on our twitter feed. We'll be all over it. Unless the stream breaks down. Obvs.

Wednesday & Thursday - In theory, these are quiet days. No Parliament. No Conference. But, well, you've been following politics in 2018. Days that are scheduled to be quiet very rarely end up being so...

Friday & Saturday - The UKIP conference takes place in Birmingham. They don't appear to have released the agenda yet, but they promise a leader's speech, as well as 'speeches from our Party Chairman, our elected officials and other influential speakers from all over Europe! '

Sunday - All eyes on Liverpool for the Labour Party Conference.
It's Bath this weekend, people! This weekend! Come along!
Bath tickets!
Manchester tickets!
Bristol tickets!
Hertford tickets!
Colchester tickets!
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