The major speech of the day came from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP. As our senior Scottish MP in the cabinet, Danny started his speech by thanking everyone who helped in the Scottish Referendum, in support of the No campaign. He also reaffirmed Liberal Democrat policy that we should have votes for 16 & 17 year olds in all elections as they did in the referendum.
Danny said Liberal Democrats should be proud that we gave the country strong government in 2010 at a time when we needed it most. He reminded delegates that Labour had bankrupted the country and that they should never be trusted to run the country by themselves again.
Since the Liberal Democrats had been in government, 27 million people had benefited from income tax cuts by the raising of the threshold to £10,500. This is something David Cameron said could not be done during the 2010 election campaign. Danny Alexander said we would raise the tax free threshold to £12,500 in the next parliament. This could only be guaranteed to be done fairly by Liberal Democrats being in government next time.
Danny Alexander said Liberal Democrats would borrow less than Labour and cut public spending less than the Tories. He said we would insist on a fairness rule on any changes to tax and benefits.
Liberal Democrats are meeting in Glasgow for the annual conference. Saturday the conference started with hustings for the election of our new party President to take over from Tim Farron, who is stepping down. There are four candidates, former MEP Liz Lynne, Baroness Sal Brinton, Linda Jack and Daisy Cooper. The winning candidate will be chosen in a postal ballot of all party members.
During the day passionate speeches were given by two senior Lib Dem government ministers Lynne Featherstone and Simon Hughes both highlighting the many achievements that have been made that would not have happened if the Lib Dems had not been in government. For instance, £35 million has now been given to tackle Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), scrapping of ID cards and reduced detention without charge to 28 days.
The highlight of the first day was the Conference Rally, which Jo Swinson, Paddy Ashdown and Nick Clegg spoke to a packed house in the main auditorium.
Nick Clegg told conference delegates that only the Liberal Democrats could provide Britain with a strong economy and a fairer society. He asked people to imagine what life would be like with a Tory or Labour majority government. The Tories could not deliver a fair society and Labour cannot be trusted on the economy. Liberal Democrats will fight “tooth and nail” to prevent either of them forming a majority government.
Locally Liberal Democrats will be fighting hard to win so that we can deliver a stronger economy and fairer society here in Gloucester, as well.