Today’s news from Iain Dale that another blog had reported that Nick Clegg was booed at the Welsh LibDem Conference for saying “we’re all broadsheet readers here” reminded me of a time when the SDP Conference in Buxton applauded ecstatically on being told by Ann Brennan that she’d never seen so many Guardian readers in her life – from which she drew a rather ominous electoral prediction (that was also applauded) - see below (or HERE for the full speech).
Nor is Mr Clegg the first LibDem leader to be booed by the party. It also happened to Paddy Ashdown at a spring conference, where he started a joke with the line "As I was driving to Nottingham..." only to be greeted by boos and hisses. The mistake, we realised in retrospect, was that we hadn't taken into account the large number of train spotters in the party, who would applaud anything that praised railways or criticised motoring.
And what was really annoying was that the joke would have worked just as well if he'd started with "When I was on the train to Nottingham.."
I was a member of the audience that day in the autumn of 1984, in Buxton's Pavillion Gardens, as the SDP debated a typically learned (but dry) paper on equality.
Then Ann Brennan rose to speak. I can confirm that her well crafted and superbly delivered speech was a breath of fresh air. It was accompanied throughout by applause, cheering and the stamping of feet. When Shirley Williams tried to 'call time', at the end of the allotted four minutes, she was shouted down by party members. Ann Brennan left to a deserved standing ovation.
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