+++ Lib Dem special conference overwhelmingly approves Lib Dem / Conservative coalition agreement

by Stephen Tall on May 16, 2010

Just minutes ago, the Lib Dems’ special conference in Birmingham – convened by the party to give members the chance to give their views on the decision to enter into a government with the Conservatives – overwhelmingly approved the coalition agreement.

Estimates in the hall, where about 1,500 Lib Dem members debated the coalition, suggested that about 50 conference representatives voted against the motion endorsing the agreement: the rest of the hundreds eligible to vote were all in favour.

Here’s some of what Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, had to say immediately after the vote:

It is five days since I accepted the position of Deputy Prime Minister. Just five days, and we now know there will be no ID cards, no third runway at Heathrow, no more fingerprinting in schools without parents’ consent, no more child detention.

“Changes Liberal Democrats have spent months, years, campaigning for, are happening. Promises we were making to people on their doorsteps just a few weeks ago are becoming realities.

“Fair taxes. The income tax threshold is now going to rise to £10,000. That is this Government’s priority, not tax cuts for millionaires.

“The best start at school for every child. Extra money is now going to be targeted to pupils who need it most. That is a huge leap in creating a truly mobile society.

“A new, sustainable economy. The banks are going to be taxed, the bonus culture is going to be cracked.

“And instead of pinning all our hopes on financial wizardry in the City of London we’ll build a new economy where we rediscover our talents for building and making things again, with green industry given new prominence as we head towards a zero-carbon future.

“New politics. Fixed term parliaments – happening. The power of recall to get rid of corrupt MPs – happening. A clean up of party funding, a clamp down on lobbying in Parliament, an elected House of Lords – all happening.

“Our Freedom Bill is going to come off our leaflets and go onto the statute book, ending gross state intrusion into people’s every day lives.

“Patients, parents, communities are all going to have a much greater say over the decisions that affect them.

“And voting reform is going to be put to the British people, in a referendum in which Liberal Democrats will fight to deliver real change.

“I know the stakes are high – for me personally, as well as the party. But I came into politics to change things, and that means taking risks. Real, big change never comes easy.

“So it would simply be wrong for us to let this chance of real change pass us by.

“The chance to transform politics, the chance to hardwire fairness into our society, the chance to change Britain for good.”

You can continue to read the Lib Dem Voice’s team’s live-tweeting from Birmingham here.