Having a nice time up in west Norfolk - a great area of the country for foodies and beach walkers, for sure. This keeps me away from mischievous activities like watching the Fib Dem conference - although not from Twitter, where I have been enjoying regular dialogue and argument with left and right.
The most amusing aspect of the current Fib Dem exercise in mass self-delusion is the feeling that somehow they have turned the corner - despite the fact that their YouGov opinion poll rating is around 9%, unchanged from where it was in January - and Nick Clegg is still enjoying staggeringly low ratings with the electorate. And so the party faithful (those that haven't walked away in disgust) console themselves in a fantasy.
The set piece speeches are a cross between George Orwell and Monty Python: Tim Farron telling the members to "stop complaining" - i.e. be happy with your lot, acting as as appendage to the Tory Party. Simon Hughes - who gave a good speech at the Compass conference back in June, to be fair - saying that the Lib Dems were reining in "extremist" Tories. Strange then, Simon, that key Tory policies like savage spending cuts - and even key Tory policies that weren't in their manifesto, like NHS privatisation - are being nodded through. And the ministers - Clegg, Teather, Alexander - are even worse than that. We will no doubt see the standard left-wing football rattle speech from Vincent Cable later in the week - at the same time that he is attempting to dismantle the employment regulation structure of Britain. And all along, these bastards will be claiming that they have "taken poor people out of tax" when in fact they have slapped a 2.5% VAT increase on the poorest in society, cut benefits for the poorest in society, and only a tiny proportion of their £17bn income tax personal allowance increase actually helps the poor. Not for nothing do they carry the tag "Fib Dems".
But I don't hate all Lib Dems - and that differentiates me from some of the more tribal Labour Party types in the blogosphere. For example, I think Evan Harris is a fine upstanding left-wing secular rationalist who should be the party leader. Sadly, he lost in 2010 - mainly because he was a shit constituency MP and pissed off too many people. That was an idiotic mistake to make; but his profile is nonetheless very high, and if he walked out - perhaps to start a new left wing party (the Progressive Liberals? The Social Liberals? Plenty of possible names out there), possibly to join Labour or the Greens - he could take a lot of people with him. There is a thing called the Social Liberal Forum who are trying to take back the Lib Dem party from the Orange Book right wing nutters who have taken it over. We have already seen a fightback against right wing extremism in the Labour party, in the shape of Ed Miliband (although the process is still incomplete) and it is possible that Social Liberal Forum could pull off the same trick in the Lib Dems. What they lack at the moment is a high profile leader - it seems that all the potential Lib Dem leadership contenders, even the more left wing ones, are biding their time. Or maybe there just aren't any left wing Lib Dem MPs any more.
But I am in regular contact with several fine upstanding left-wingers in the Lib Dems - and my friendly message to these people is, GET OUT NOW. You are doing the Tories' dirty work for them, destroying an honourable political party, and tarnishing your own reputations. PULL THE FUCKING PLUG, form a new party (or join one of the others) and start living the real deal rather than a lie. The country will thank you for it, and you'll feel much better.