Well, before I get into Conference, I'm sure that all Liberal Democrats will be pleased by this JC Diary story about Lord Palmer's latest contribution to the work of the Coalition Government...So, to Conference. My highlights included being on a communal computer which posted one of my blog postings on someone else's blog, which I noticed fast enough to delete immediately. And, while I was talking to an old university friend about how neither of us remembered knowing George Osborne when we were all at the same university together, a slightly confused woman, with whom I had hitherto been unacquainted, interrupting me to say: "You don't remember George Osborne? But he's the Chancellor of the Exchequer!" before she launched into an extended monologue about my hair, which apparently is what her granddaughter would call very modern, because it sticks up. "The worst thing to say about hair is that it is ordinary, so very well done," she said. OK...
Also, a few people have commended me for asking the Chinese Ambassador a question about Tibet at a fringe meeting on Wednesday. For which "thanks", but it didn't take much doing. I don't know very much about Tibet. The ambassador had spoken at length and with some candour about a range of topics including human rights, without any mention of Tibet. I wonder if an Israeli Ambassador could speak at such a meeting without mentioning the Palestinians? So in the Q&A, I courteously asked if His Excellency could please offer the meeting an update on how his government sees the situation in Tibet. Which he did, at some length, and that was appreciated.
I agree with those pundits who say that the Liberal Democrats had a good, disciplined week. Turning to Israel/Palestine, the JC has interestingly reported on Lib Dem Conference (if you scroll down through the bit about the Prime Minister and the Labour Party). Conference passed a very fine motion on the Arab Awakening, including this amendment:
The UK, EU and international community to continue their support for the fundamental human rights of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people, and to step up efforts to promote peaceful negotiation between Israel and the freely elected representatives of the Palestinian people which will lead to a comprehensive and final peace treaty between the two sides based on the legitimate entitlements of each in international law, including their right to live in peace and security
Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel actually supported this amendment, with Sarah Ludford MEP (one of our Vice-Presidents) speaking in the debate. It really is an excellent amendment, which ought to appeal to anyone who cares about Israel and the Palestinians. Having been passed by Conference, it is presumably party policy. The only qualification of my support for this amendment would be to say that the bit about "freely elected representatives of the Palestinian people" can be taken as a reference to Hamas. Israel (and the UK Government) argues that it would be quite willing to negotiate with Hamas if Hamas recognised Israel's right to exist, renounced violence and agreed to abide by past agreements entered into by the Palestinian Authority. The door is open to Hamas if it does those three things, which it arguably ought to do before it is an acceptable negotiating partner (should the Palestinians re-elect Hamas, which I very much hope that they won't).
Finally, there is obviously nothing more tedious than Lib Dem bloggers who come online to say: "I've just been on BBC Radio Finchley to talk about the mansion tax!" On which note, further to the World Service thing that I posted the other day, I was twice approached for my views by Winkball, along with many other Conference attendees. The first time, I seem to have adopted the guise of a Mr Matthew Herris, whoever he is, and the second time, you'll see that I went on at great length and was enormously controversial.