Goal & Own Goal. My pick of the Lib Dem conference’s “hero and biggest gaffe” for Demos’s Fantasy Politics

by Stephen Tall on September 20, 2013

I’m one of the celebrity judges (in my case, that term is gapingly loose) in think-tank Demos’s fantasy politics league running throughout the conference season. My task was to pick the two MPs who had the best or worst weeks of the Lib Dem conference. Here’s who I chose…

Goal & Own Goal (conference hero and biggest gaffe of the week as judged by Lib Dem Voice Editor, Stephen Tall)

Goal: Julian Huppert

“Julian was Mr Ubiquitous at Lib Dem conference, putting in 11 appearances on the fringe meeting circuit and popping up at pretty much every debate, sealing his reputation as Lib Dem members’ favourite MP (the title he won in our Lib Dem Voice Awards). An evidence-based scientist on the party’s social liberal wing, Julian doesn’t take himself too seriously, and happily joins in with gusto the singing at the annual end-of-conference Glee Club knees-up.”

Own Goal: Ed Davey

“In many ways Ed had a good conference, earning backing from party members for his position on nuclear power and shale gas. But he has a habit of including a cringe-worthy conference line in his speeches. A few years ago his slogan for Middle East peace was to “take tea with the Taliban”. This year he defended his position on shale gas, lamely quipping “I’ve been fracking responsible!” Just no, Ed. And then a sign fell on top of him, live on TV. Ouch. That wasn’t his fault. But none of it helps his pitch to be the “Anyone but Tim Farron” candidate when Nick Clegg stands down.”

Ed has every right to feel slightly hard done by, as he wasn’t my first choice for Own Goal:

Own goal – Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott

His eve-of-conference call for Nick Clegg to quit and his comparison of the Lib Dem leader to Michael Foot didn’t go down well. Even those who aren’t in the Clegg circle thought his timing attention-seeking and clumsy. It also put his close ally Vince Cable on the back-foot from the off, contributing to the Lib Dem business secretary’s trickier-than-usual conference.

But, alas for Ed, Matthew didn’t feature in the list of Lib Dems famous enough to be picked for a team… which fact might actually cause M’Lord O. more pain than my words.


I think Vince had a difficult conference. I think he does not believe in the economic good news story that Nick Clegg is promulgating, but how do you get the message across without being in your face like Oakeshott? The media sensed blood and forced him to be loyal to Nick when really he didn't want to do that. The question I do not know the answer to is how else could he have done that? Anyway he is now on record supporting Nick Clegg's economic policy that he probably does not agree with.

by Geoffrey G J Payne on September 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm. Reply #

HE DOES BELIEVE IN IT-THE DIFFERECE IS ONE OF LANGUAGE NOT SUBSTANCE-VINCE IS A TRAIEND ECONOMST AND THUS HE CAN REDA MATHS-AND THE MATHS SHOW GROWETH-…VINCE IS WORRIED ABOUT HOUSE PRICES AND SO should all of us-its nohere near a bubble yet-but action is needed now to rpevent it-I actually thought a motion that Help to buy be restricted to economically disadvantaged areas had a lot of merit…

by David Thorpe on September 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm. Reply #

AND THE MATHS SHOW GROWTH – thats a big fat headline claim. Growth for which sector, and which quintile of society will benefit – oh, hold on, I know this one. Yes, the top 20%

by Mike Cobley on September 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm. Reply #

The coalition have played a blinder on the economy if nothing else. I wonder if they'll get credit for it come 2015.

BTW Cable is right to be concerned any kind of house price inflation:


by David Gould on September 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm. Reply #

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