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5 July 2010

Lib Dem anger over plan for Cameron to address conference

Senior Lib Dems warn that it “would be madness” for Tory leader to address party conference.

By George Eaton

Later this month the Lib Dems and the Tories will hold a joint political cabinet to discuss the upcoming conference season and how to promote the coalition’s successes. One proposal doing the rounds is for coalition cabinet members to speak at each other’s party conferences, with David Cameron potentially addressing the Lib Dems in Liverpool.

So a report in today’s Herald of Lib Dem unease over the plan could be a sign of trouble to come. The paper quotes one senior Lib Dem as saying: “It would be madness and could backfire quite badly. Lib Dems are proud of their distinct identity. They don’t want to feel as though they are being swallowed up by the Conservatives.”

One shouldn’t exagerrate the level of discontent among the Lib Dem grass roots: a new poll for Liberal Democrat Voice finds that party members support every one of the measures in George Osborne’s emergency Budget. But it’s hard to imagine Cameron receiving a particularly warm welcome in Liverpool.

The conference season should provide space and time for both parties to consider what they’ve won and lost by forming a coalition government. Inviting Cameron to the Lib Dem gathering would hinder this necessary exercise.

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