Monday, March 09, 2009

Harrogate - Day 3: Nick Clegg speaks (with commentary by Bob Russell MP)

And so, the Conference reached its climax, the Leader's speech. Naturally, the great and the good were positioned on the front row, and a camera panning it would have spotted senior frontbenchers, the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, leading MEP's and the Party President. Oh yes, and someone in a lightly pinstriped suit with a dark tie with flowers. Must be a big donor, because the media would have no idea who he was. Perhaps he just found a spare seat and occupied it when nobody was looking?

But anyway, the Leader comes on, and delivers the speech that is the result of so much careful preparation. And it was a pretty good speech (I have always been known to be a hard marker), with plenty of 'red meat' and messages that really resonated with his audience. Indeed, there were elements that, I believe, will resonate far beyond the hall.

I have always wondered why the directors of the banks have been treated so leniently, especially given the amount of time I spend at work explaining to directors that they are liable for their compliance failures. Nick's call for them to be prosecuted under company law is, I think, entirely fair. They clearly didn't exercise control, for if they had, the inability to calculate their potential liabilities should surely have made them stop and think. It's not simply retribution, it's a clear sign that failure has its consequences.

One thing I like to do is to monitor reactions around the hall and, this year, my barometer was Bob Russell. Bob knows where his constituents live, so to speak, and I tend to respect his thoughts. He seemed to like the speech, and was never short of an approving comment.

And so the Conference was over, and it was time to go home...

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