I wasn’t called to speak to speak at the economics debate. Only one speaker was picked to oppose the motion. That reflected d the balance of cards submitted, apparently. This is what I was planning to say:
What on on Earth am I doing? Vince Cable is one of my heroes! He is one of the few economically literate people in British politics. How can I oppose a motion that he has proposed so eloquently? And a motion with so many worthy sentiments in it. It’s like voting against motherhood.
Well maybe that’s the problem. The party at this point in the political cycle needs a serious motion on economics to do one of two things.
First it could set out a clear but simple vision that shows what the party stands for and who we are. It could pick up themes such as green growth or local enterprise.
Or it spell out specific policies. Things that can be put in a manifesto, or, Heaven forbid, a coalition agreement.
But the motion has no clear organising theme. Vince’s speech helpfully offered us four. But not the motion we are being asked to adopt. As originally published it had 10 complaints about current government policy, and no less than 15 themes for Lib Dem policy. From my Conference Daily I see that it has grown. It truly is no hobby horse left behind! Where on earth is the clarity and vision in that?
Amendment one does try to build a green theme, which improves the motion, and I support it. But it cannot save it.
And neither does it help create detailed policy. Each of those 15 proposals needs a debate of its own.
This motion is neither fish for fowl.
Conference, you could take the easy option. You can vote it through, and let it be instantly forgotten. For that is the only fate that can await it. But is that what you really want for the first motion under One Member One Vote? No. You can be brave. Throw it out and send a signal that this conference means business.