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.