Many Lib Dems really love The Leader's Speech. It's the traditional end to conference, and sitting in a hall full of likeminded people while the leader's platitudes wash over you is some people's idea of fun. Equally, many of us dislike it intensely. The social pressure to clap in the right places* is intense, and as a liberal who decries conformity it makes my skin crawl. Also, if the leader says something you don't like and you then walk out, it creates negative publicity.
So there are several sets of lib dems who avoid going to The Leader's Speech. Many just go get on the train before the big rush. I know of one group who have a rather sweet tradition of going to get ice cream while the Leader speaks. The Awkward Squad goes to the pub.
It started when Cleggy was Our Glorious Leader. You may recall that I had one or two policy differences with Cleggy**. One conf, and I can't remember which one, I attended the leader's speech, like a good lib dem, and walked out about half way through utterly furious
with something or other he had said, thinking "sod this, I'm off to the pub". When I got there I discovered a dear friend was already there. He explained that as he knew Cleggy was bound
to say something really annoying, what he did was go to the pub, download the text of the speech, and work out which point he would have walked out anyway. I thought this was an excellent
idea, and have been doing it ever since***, and the group of likeminded curmudgeons doing the same has gradually grown over the years.
Fast forward to yesterday.
There's a bunch of us in the pub. One or two would have walked out at the "single market is ok" bits of the speech. I'd have made it past that, but only a couple of paragraphs, the bit about having achieved equal marriage would have been my breaking point****. Anyway, we were all happily chatting away and discussing things and it was all good.
... The problem was when Vince turned up. Yep, that's right, The Leader turned up to Not The Leader's Speech
. Apparently it was some photo call to do with a motion we'd passed earlier in the conference.
I wouldn't have minded, but he didn't even get a round in. Bloody Yorkshirefolk, they're all the same*****.
So, I am now carefully researching pubs in Southport for Spring Conference to find one that's 1, good and 2, less likely to be crashed by the sodding leader. It doesn't half put a crimp in avoiding the leader when he turns up all smiles and handshakes.
ETA: Caron has posted about this on lib dem
voice now. Countdown to po-faced condemnation in five... four... three...
*and even to stand and ovate. People who don;t stand and ovate in the "right" places often get glared at, or even tutted at.
**although as a human being I find him perfectly personable and likeable.
***Except for Tim Farron's first speech. Tim knows/knew all about Not The Leader's Speech, and made me promise him that I would go to his first one. I warned him that this would mean actually walking out if he said something walkout-worthy... Thankfully he didn't. But none-the-less I didn't go to any of his others. I'm just not a keynote speech type person.
****See here for the big rant about that one. There was a big chorus of groans about this in the pub - "Oh FFS we have to train ANOTHER leader and his staff not to do this..."
*****I am allowed to say this being Yorkshire myself