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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Scared to be interesting?

The Western Mail this morning reports remarks from Lembit Opik who believes that politicians have become 'too scared' to express ideas outside the mainstream of their parties' thinking. Lembit told a fringe meeting at Conference that politics was often dull because of politicians themselves and said that the Liberal Democrats is at risk of "painting itself grey".

Lembit confesses that he only realised his own problem when Sian Lloyd found him watching a video of party political broadcasts. Truly, Lembit deserves to own the Electoral Commission's 'Political Anorak' far more than I do.

"What's wrong with us?" he said. "Are we so afraid of debate we're not even willing to have it in our own party? How will we ever find the breakthroughs if we're not willing to talk about breaks with what's gone before?

"To give us back our right to challenge old thinking, to scrap and argue, and then to decide is the way to get people interested. And if the Lib Dems won't do it, we're painting ourselves grey along with the rest.

"And there's another thing missing. Our spirit. The playful and energising adventure spirit which drew us into politics like moths to a stormlamp, and which evokes dreams of changing the world.

"That's got to come with a warmth and a smile It's not something you can teach. But it's a spirit you can free. Political debate needs a dose of honesty."

Lembit is absolutely right. One way that he can start to free up debate in the party is to get himself a blog and start to share his thoughts with us on a daily basis. However, the one thing that the Conference has shown is that the Party is not afraid of an open and robust debate.

In a direct snub to the handful of MPs and the media who have been trying to talk us onto a right wing agenda, conference representatives firstly rejected moves to make us more Euro-sceptic, and then yesterday they voted to throw out proposals to part-privatise the Royal Mail. The Labour propaganda machine must be in despair.
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