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17 September 2011

Stay positive

The Lib Dem conference begins today, and Nick Clegg wants to celebrate the party's achievements

By Sophie Elmhirst

Lib Dems are beginning to gather in Birmingham – the city of choice for the Liberal Democrat autumn conference. In an interview with the BBC, Nick Clegg has acknowledged that it has not been an easy period for his pary:

It’s been a really tough year. We came into government in what were obviously controversial circumstances because we are governing with our sworn enemies the Conservative Party, and, even more controversially, we’re having to make very, very difficult and in some cases downright unpopular decisions.

However, the LIb Dem leader is also adamant that the party will use the occasion of the conference to celebrate their achievements in government, not least in acting as a “moderating influence” on their coalition partners, the Conservatives. He will also take the opportunity to “highlight how Liberal Democrats in government are making Britain a fairer, greener and more liberal country”.

Some might find such optimism hard to stomach, but given the collapse in Lib Dem support among the electorate (the party lost 747 councillors in the local elections earlier this year), Clegg is evidently keen to try and resurrect the image of the party.

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At the conference, delegates will vote on 15 policy motions, including motions on welfare reform, adult social care, phone hacking and Lords reform – and Clegg will give his keynote speech on Wednesday.