Lloyd George Society Weekend
Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 22nd February, 2009
For over 50 years, the Lloyd George Society or previously the Welsh Liberal Party have held annual residential weekend schools, originally intended for Welsh Liberal parliamentary candidates to bone up on party policy, though these days they are opened up to a wider group of the faithful, to discuss topical political issues and to socialise. It must be over 20 years since I was last at one, but I had been invited back this weekend to give a presentation on ‘Europe, the United States and the Obama Effect’. Because of a diary clash with the London LibDem election training day on Saturday, I wasn’t able to travel up to Llandrindod Wells (via Crewe and Shreswbury) until yesterday afternoon, arriving just in time for a Welsh lamb dinner at which the speaker was Chris Huhne. He pointed out that (Baron) Emlyn Hooson, who was also sitting at the top table, was one of only six Liberal MPs back in 1970 — quite a different matter from the 63 returned in 2005. Moreover, Chris was upbeat about the chances of LibDem MPs who have small majorities over the Conservatives (including himself) holding their seats at the next general election, as studies show that the incumbency factor works well for LibDems. And he was confident we would pick up a swath of new seats from Labour, as their support continues to crumble.
This morning, in the graveyard slot after breakfast, as well as giving a tour d’horizon of European and US relations within the new world order, I focussed on positive lessons we in Britain can learn from the Obama campaign. Firstly clear messages, simply put (in the Euro-elections concentrating particularly on the economy, the environment and crime/civil liberties); outreach to specific groups, such as students and resident citizens of other EU countries; and utilising new technologies (e-campaining etc). The morning was rounded off with a question time panel including the Number 1 on the Welsh Euro-list, Alan Butt-Philip, Lord (Martin) Thomas, Baroness (Celia) Thomas (no relation) and the inimitable Lembit Opik, MP, who was in combative form, not least on the subject of tabloid journalists.