Unfortunately I wasn't at the Lib Dem conference, I also missed the BBC Parliament's televising as my television decided to lose reception randomly - One can only assume that it doesn't agree with Nick but does with my wife who said she wanted to watch the Kryptonfactor instead. I can't really talk about the delivery however I have read the transcript and will instead talk about the content.
It reads very well and has several themes that he keeps coming back to.
One of the key ones is family. We as a party are family and as a family we don't always agree and some are very vocal in their disagreement, which is a good thing. This is a good thing, it allows us;
To get NHS reform right, to keep fair taxes as our priority, to keep the government green.
Debate is indeed the central aspect of the party and he reminds us that even though we are all different in our outlook and our approaches to the problems.
Whether you consider yourself more of a social democrat or a classical liberal, whether your hero is Gladstone or Keynes, Paddy Ashdown or Shirley Williams, we are all to one degree or another, all of the above. We share the same inheritance. We are cut from the same cloth. We are Liberal Democrats.
It is a good line, not only makes us all feel unified but also addresses some of the splits that have begun to appear since the formation of the Coalition and the growth of support for the Social Liberal forum, the Orange bookers and the classical pragmatic Liberals... We have to remember that even though we don't agree on everything we can work together and debate and bring in change that a majority can agree on.
He also paid tribute to those who lost their posts in the local, Scottish and Welsh elections and more importantly to Andy Reeves. I didn't know Andy well, I'd exchanged less than a handful of tweets with him but I know he was a big part of the party, a loved colleague and friend to many and it is my loss that I will not get to know him but I think it was the right time and message for Nick to mention him in his speech and to talk well of him and say;
He was there in the good times and bad, one of us, one of the family.
Nick also laid out important changes that are coming in the party including greater diversity to combat our "Too male and too pale" image by setting up the Leadership program, and also important things that WE as a party have achieved.
NHS; the Sheffield conference vote was carried forward and affected government policy.
Ruport Murdoch; LibDems have moved forward and led on combating vested interests in the media,
Human rights; we've taken a stand on issues.
He assured the membership that although we didn't see it, the Parliamentary party did fight for Liberal ideals within the Coalition and that ministers fort tooth and nail in their departments for what we believe in. Although a lot of it was hidden from the media for different reasons but he is taking up the advice that he has received from his tours around the country and making our changes and voice heard by the public.
On our Coalition partners he says;
We may not agree with everything our coalition partners say- they certainly don't agree with everything I say - but that's the point. We have not become the same and we never will. We are putting our differences aside and putting the country first.
I agree with his comments about why the Coalition was formed. There was no other reasonable choice of action and it is up to both parties to make it work for the country. It will also give the country a fairer view of our party showing that we can make difficult decisions and govern and that we aren't just a wasted vote or an opposition party that opposes for the sake of opposing. Despite the Short term unpopularity we did the right thing and are a serious party.
He assures us that the Coalition has the strength needed to fix the big problems; and that there are more people in that government who are looking out for you. Those people are there. They're in government and on your side. They're called Liberal Democrats.
It was very rousing, I wish I had seen it rather than read it. Every time I feel down about the future of the party or question what we are doing Nick always seems to give one of these speeches which lifts me out of the doldrums and makes me smile, swell up inside and proclaim strongly that :- I still agree with Nick.
We are doing the right thing and we clearly have a lot more to do but as Winston Churchill once said:
"Lets go Forward together."