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Liberal Democrat conference diary

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 26, 2012

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Lord Paddy Ashdown, former Lib Dem leader and ex-Yeovil MP, recalled friendly banter with late Cornwall Liberal MP David Penhaligon, a name that remains hallowed among the region's political classes. "He used to say Yeovil was not in the Westcountry, it was in the south Midlands," Lord Ashdown joked to South West delegates at a late-night reception. "And I used to remind him of the famous words of Dr Johnson: 'The further you go to the west of Britain, the more you realise why the wise men came from the east'." Good luck in Cornwall, Paddy.

"I am a pleb" badges have been selling like hot cakes at the conference. The legend refers to the derisory term allegedly directed by Tory Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell at Downing Street police officers. The MP denies using the words attributed to him. Yours for 25p, delegates are wearing the badges with pride. Dan Rogerson, MP for North Cornwall, was one of the first to sport the must-have conference item, parading his "pleb" credentials well before any of his counterparts.

Joke of the week? Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was addressing conference when he referred to his political adviser, former Cornwall MP Julia Goldsworthy, now Julia Church. The Lib Dem minister said he attended her wedding at around the same time as Tory George Osborne's notorious Budget, which Mr Alexander played a key role in shaping. "Not everything in the Budget this year was perfect," he began. "Julia Church, my brilliant special adviser, was getting married a few weeks after the Budget in Cornwall. I checked to make sure her future husband was not a caravan-dwellling, church-going charity giver with a taste for pasties. And I will always think of that time as four U-turns and a wedding," he quipped referring to sharp changes of policy that embarrassed the Government. He's here all week. Sadly.

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