Conference rallies are by their very nature there to inspire the troops. Ones just before heading off into the autumn and winter before a General Election even more so. Last night after the build up through the week of first Vince Cable's and then Nick Clegg's pamphlet's many of us were already somewhat inspired about the future months before taking our seats.
The evening started with Ros Scott introducing Chris Rennard who got a standing ovation before he even opened his mouth. After 27 years of service to the party there was probably hardly anyone in the hall that didn't offer some debt of gratitude to Chris, and indeed his wife Anne, down through the years. He admitted himself that he is now getting around to putting the life into the work-life balance equation. He was clearly deeply moved by the reaction he got from his Lib Dem family at the end of his words.
Then Sarah Teather took over the compering, let me assure you world that Westminster's gain is the comedy circuits loss as the Brent East MP would not have been amiss at the Edinburgh Fringe last month. Anyhoo, she introduced Floella Benjamin, who didn't come to us through the round, square or triangle window. Twelve years ago the former Play School presenter was one of those who through that things can only get better under New Labour, she is like many of those who have since been let down, but she's realised that there is hope and that is through the Lib Dems. I'm really glad that someone who campaigned for 20 years for a children's minister is firmly on our side.
Next up was the bostin Karen Hamilton PPC for Birmingham Perry Barr. She shows the path that so many Lib Dems have found themselves on. She got involved in local politics to clean up the litter on her street. Now as the councillor part of her role in the cabinet is to look after all the streets in Birmingham.
Charles Kennedy was the final warm up event. However, he also shared with us Eric Pickles' letter to us Lib Dems. Clearly poor Eric doesn't know who is wooing as his letter of love was met with derision in the hall and his love will be unrequited. How Pickles, can think "Liberal democracy has always formed an important part of the Conservative family" or that "the Conservative party will always be the home of progressive liberal democracy in British politics" is beyond us? If you really want those things Eric we can send you a membership form for the progressive liberal democracy in British politics, but you'll have to earn you're position in our party not inherit it like you do in the Tories.
Then we really were ready for Nick. Some of what he had to say I had already read in his The Liberal Moment or heard from his own lips in the morning at the bloggers interview. But the hall hadn't all had the time or the opportunity.
In the 21 years since I first signed up at the Social and Liberal Democrats stall at Kingston Polytechnic a lot has changed. We have dropped the word social from the party's name, my Poly is now Kingston University, I've lost a bit of hair, Labour has lost its heart and soul, the Tories have lost the ability to make policy it seems. But most importantly the Lib Dems have found their voice, they are brave enough to talk about their philosophy. It hasn't changed that much but what has changed is that the public are starting to realise that we are right, have been right and kept to our guns despite the buffeting we've had from the other two parties. We've been a fulcrum that the others have see-sawed over, but the people now are looking for that stability, because they have been scared by the alternatives a bit too much.