By Luke Tyson
“‘Tis the season! Conference season, that is and this year the Lib Dems kicked things off with their gathering in Birmingham. The mood was good and people were genuinely optimistic about what we could achieve over the duration of the conference.
And a Lib Dem conference is different to the other two main parties for one important reason: delegates decide the policy of the Party.
As a voting delegate representing Lib Dems from Thurrock, Basildon and Billericay, the motion calling for an evidenced-based approach for substance abuse was at the top of my priority list.
It is pretty clear that the ‘war on drugs’ is being lost and it is time to review our approach to how deal the myriad of consequences it has lead to. The motion did not call for any legalisation of drugs that are illegal – that point is important to make clear.
It asks the government for an independent panel to review current policy. The appalling sacking of Professor David Nutt as the Labour Government’s Chief Drugs Advisor shows how the responses to this problem are not based on science or evidence, but the reactionary tabloids.
It was an honour to vote for the motion, which our ministers will now take with them back to Westminster. From the conference hall to the Cabinet Room.
Home Office minister, Lynne Featherstone MP, announced that the government would be consulting on how to bring gay marriage on parity with straight marriage. Anything that stops the culture of love in gay relationships appearing to mean less that love in straight relationships is very welcome to me.
Another great announcement was from the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne MP, who will be introducing tougher rules on the ‘big six’ energy companies to ensure simpler tariffs and the ability to switch provider more easily.
The headline of every conference is the Leader’s speech and Nick Clegg did not disappoint. He said what we, as party activists, were all feeling; being in government is not easy, but we are punching above our weight. People of Thurrock and the country as a whole are better off for Lib Dems being in government.
Cutting taxes for lower earners; injecting billions of pounds into schools; restoring the earnings link to pensions; and investment in green jobs are all things us members should be proud of. And I, for one, am.
Nick said in his speech that we are not doing the easy things; we’re doing the right things, and that Britain will be fairer tomorrow because we’re in government today. I couldn’t agree more.