Today’s Federal Party Conference finished on a high note. Menzies Campbell’s leadership withstood its first test on Saturday, as delegates overwhelmingly voted through the parliamentary party’s policy on Post Offices. This was the motion that had been sent back by the autumn conference — but yesterday tables were turned and it was the (now rather few) rebels who were defeated. Today the party proved that it has the will to take the fight to its political enemies.
Everywhere there was a sense that change is in the air. This wasn’t just the thrilling Harrogate weather. Elsewhere Labour was going through another regretful crisis. While in Wales David Cameron was pleading with his party not to be frightened by the pace of his changes.
We should not gloat over the discomfiture of Tessa Jowell. Her situation is a tragedy largely not of her making. Nor should we be gleeful over the down-turn on Tory confidence in Cameron. Britain needs rejuvenation in its parties, and if the Tories are too slow-witted to see that, then that is their loss and ours.
In fact, the time for continuously comparing ourselves with our opponents and our poll-ratings has reached its end. Scandal may sell newspapers, but it does not make for good government.
Outside of the tiny world of British party politics, the world is changing. The environment is deteriorating far faster than most people are willing to believe. The West’s recent adventures in war and publishing have dramatically destabilised our relationship with the entire Muslim world. The economic development of China and India is a seismic shift in international trade. And, all the while, the worldwide growth in human trafficking for the sex-industry sees more than five million people sold into slavery each year — a blight on our consciences about which are doing almost nothing.
We no longer have time for bickering.
And Liberal-Democrats, at least, are ready to engage in constructive politics.