>I’m sure I was watching the Liberal Democrat conference earlier on BBC Parliament, I’m just not sure where the BBC were watching it. Their headline says

Lib Dems suffer conference defeat over free schools

Hello!

This was a Lib Dem conference. How can a democratically debated and voted upon motion be a defeat?

Not only that the debate as I watched it enhanced Lib Dem education policy as I have heard it debated over the last 22 years of my association. So why is it a defeat?

Also they call it a rebel motion. No it was like all manner of Lib Dem motions coming from the membership not from the leadership. That is the nature of the party, and its conference, not like the Tories and Labour who will simply rubber stamp the will of the leadership.

So the Policy Motion on Free Schools and Academies may be opposed to some of the government

Basically because the membership of the Lib Dems have passed a motion that contradicts that of the coalition Government. So a more accurate headline would have been ‘Government suffer Lib Dem conference defeat over free schools’.

But this was a victory for the Lib Dems and their independence as a party, holding the government to account even if some of our representatives serve in that Government. It is just what our Scottish conference did through the eight years we were in government and our Welsh cousins similarly.

So if anyone doubts that the Lib Dems have lost their way, you are now seeing that this is not the case. The party will continue to act in a progressive and fair way.

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