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Meeting the Challenge

I attended the "Meeting The Challenge" conference which started with speeches from all four contenders for the Lib Dem Leadership.

They all did a good job in their own way. Mark Oaten particularly by working from memory performed the most visually effective speech. I preferred Ming Campbell's Speech.
Ming Campbells LSE Speech
"I want to begin today by paying tribute to Charles Kennedy. In his
resignation speech Charles displayed the dignity and courage, which made him
such a success as leader of our party. He led us to new heights in two
general elections. Today we salute Charles, wish him well and look forward to
him returning to the front-line.

I also want to say to my colleagues Mark, Chris and Simon let us have a
vigorous contest for the leadership, let us debate issues and policies - but
let us remember how much unites us and let us never forget for one second
that the real battle for us Liberal Democrats is against Labour and the

I have come here today to affirm my belief in a great cause. It is a cause
that has inspired and dominated my whole life. The cause of liberty, of
freedom, of justice. The cause that empowers people and liberates
communities. The cause that enlightens our world and inspires our politics.

It is the great cause of liberalism. I have always been proud to be a
Liberal and a Liberal Democrat and to campaign for this party since I was a

I have always been a liberal in my heart and in my head - inspired
originally by the idealism and the imagination of Jo Grimond. It was Grimond
who saw the need for Britain to play a full part in Europe; it was Grimond
who saw that government should be decentralised and it was Grimond who saw
the need for an open minded, radical and campaigning party. These principles
matter today more than ever.

Ever since I first stood for Parliament it has been clear to me that
Britain cries out for a liberal alternative to the long record of failure of
Labour and the Conservatives alike.

I have fought for that liberal alternative in every election since February
1974. I have won five of them - I have learned how to win. But I also know
how tough it is to win and how you can only win if you have the experience to
lead a united, campaigning team.

The leader must develop and use all the remarkable talent now in our party
nationally and locally. I want to make sure we capitalise on all their
talents to win for Britain.

The days of mere parliamentary survival are over. We have entered a new
phase. That brings both opportunity and responsibility. We need dedication,
passion and professionalism. More than ever, Britain needs a strong liberal

The other parties promote conformity and authoritarianism. We cherish
individuality and stand up for personal freedom. For years they have
concentrated power in Whitehall. We want to give it back to local
communities. They sometimes talk of the environment. We have consistently
made the environment our priority. They pander to nationalism. We stand for
internationalism. They supported the Iraq War. We opposed that war,
confirming our support for international law. We stood by our belief in the
United Nations and what it stands for. We showed then our unity and our
strength of purpose. We stood by our liberal principles.

So let me pledge today that, entrusted with the leadership of this great
party, I will never compromise on the rule of international law and I will
never compromise on my opposition to illegal or ill-founded military action.

We live in a time of great political change. I suppose we should be
flattered that David Cameron is trying to steal our clothes? But this is the
man behind Black Wednesday, the man who was the author of the appalling Tory
party manifesto - and the man who was Michael Howard’s conscience. Now he
asks us to believe that he has experienced a conversion on the road from
Notting Hill.

I know liberals. I have worked with liberals. Liberals are my friends. If
I may, ‘Dave’, you’re no liberal. More than ever this country needs a strong
liberal alternative - but it needs the real thing. The need to address the
sense of powerlessness and alienation that so many feel. The need to tackle
poverty and social deprivation. The need to stop the damage to our
environment and promote sustainable development. The need to act together
internationally to promote peace and justice. Liberalism at home and
liberalism abroad.

Our liberalism is not a struggle between those who wish to modernise and
those who do not. To be a Liberal Democrat is to be a moderniser. What were
Lloyd George, Beveridge and Grimond but modernisers? And so we must be
modernisers too - never compromising on principle, but making our principles
contemporary and relevant.

We have a great opportunity - to be the party that will empower people to
make the decisions that affect their everyday lives and the services on which
they depend.

We can learn from Liberal Democrat councils and pioneer new ways of making
public services truly accountable and responsive. We must insist on community
services, locally provided, democratically accountable. We must be more
ambitious. Open minds are more important than open necked shirts.

I want new thinking to liberate thousands of families locked in poverty. I
want new thinking to reward environmentally friendly technology. I want new
thinking to ensure every child with the talent, regardless of colour or
creed, gender or sexual orientation, can become a QC or an Olympic athlete. I
want new thinking to embrace strong action to tackle social injustice. I want
new thinking to underpin a modern constitution, a radical democratic

These are dangerous times. The coming competition for energy resources
threatens international security. It is only six months ago that London was
subjected to a devastating attack from terrorists. Foreign policy and
domestic are not separate issues in this small world every action abroad
affects our lives at home.

International co-operation is the only way to provide real security.
International co-operation is the only way to combat the threats to our
environment. International co-operation is only way we can sustain a strong
economy. And international co-operation is the only way to make poverty

You’d expect me and others to say something about leadership. I believe in
leading not following; setting goals and objectives; shaping events not being
shaped by them; taking responsibility and discharging it; being both candid
and confident; neither dictatorial nor prescriptive, but consultative and

To be the leader of the Liberal Democrats is to be the trustee of a great
party, with much to be proud of already, but with the best achievements still
to come. My role, with faith and diligence, is to ensure that future."

Although Simon's was very good.

This is a link for Mark Oaten

and I don't have anything for Chris Huhne yet.

At the moment I am undecided for my first preference between Simon and Ming, but all four candidates are doing a good job.


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