Science at the Lib Dem party conference – final thoughts

Back in London, a few final thoughts on the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool this week:

My first ever Lib Dem conference was in Torquay twenty years ago.  How things change! Busier than I have ever seen it, the party faithful had a different spring in their step even if they seemed a little apprehensive.  But it was also interesting to see how quickly many Ministers have settled into their role.

We might have lost Evan Harris to parliament in May…but there are some good champions emerging like Julian Huppert MP.  And others.  But I can assure you that Evan is very much alive and well.

Look, if the Chief Librarians can be there….science and medical research was more evident than for a long time but I continue to believe we are missing a trick by not getting together and going en masse.  It’s not all about influencing MPs in an informal setting.  As important is the opportunity to bring our issues to party workers and councillors who are important to the running of local communities and often dealing with issues where we can be helpful.

In fact, we complain bitterly about there not being enough scientists in parliament etc but the work to encourage and groom people to stand for parliament takes place in parties at local and national level.  By bringing scientists – and particularly younger ones – to these events we might encourage them to enter politics.

…the topic which seemed to feature strongly in every meeting I went too, was the cap on non-EU migrants.  I was a little taken aback by that.  As I said earlier in the week, there seems gathering momentum on this one.

Vince Cable is Vince Cable.

Next week is the Labour Party’s turn.  They will be in Manchester and so shall I, blogging as often as I can.  I sensed that a lot of people have ‘written off’ next week and fewer than normal are going.  Sure, there will still be a collective sense grieving over the General Election and of course the coronation of the new party leader.  But when parliament returns a few weeks later it is going to be important to have an effective Opposition party and our job is to make sure they know the issues well.  As we did this week and will also do with the Conservatives in Birmingham.

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