2012 Lib Dem conference: Who's who of prominent Lib Dems
- 20 September 2012
- From the section UK Politics
Lib Dem activists are gathering in Brighton for their autumn conference. Nick Clegg and the party's four other cabinet ministers will all be making headline speeches, while David Laws is sure to attract attention after his recent return to government. But who else could be making a splash this week? Here's a guide to some of the party's other movers and shakers.
The Lib Dem deputy leader is the most senior party figure not serving in the government. Reportedly turned down a job in the recent reshuffle. Has been very supportive of the coalition although critical of certain policies, including NHS, education and welfare changes. Will be an active presence on the conference fringe and a barometer of party opinion.
Regarded by some as a future party leader, the MP for Westmoreland and Lonsdale is currently Lib Dem president. Traditionally makes a rousing speech at conference, often at the expense of the Conservatives. Has described his coalition partners as "toxic" in the past although remains a firm supporter of the government's economic policies.
Nick Clegg's former chief of staff is one of the party's key thinkers and strategists. Joined the government last year as a business minister and was recently promoted to Department of Health with responsibility for care for the elderly. Seen as being on the right of the party, he claimed last year that coalition politics was alien to Labour.
The son of a former diplomat, he spent the past couple of years in government crisscrossing the globe as a Foreign Office minister. Recently moved, to the surprise of some, to the Home Office where his brief is crime prevention. This job should give him a higher domestic profile in the run-up to the next election.
The former university professor is regarded as one of the most low-profile but effective ministers in government. In charge of the coalition's pensions policy, including changes to retirement age and encouraging greater provision. Has not always seen eye to eye with Nick Clegg in the past but has good relationships with Conservative colleagues.
One of the party's rising stars, she joined the government as consumer affairs minister in the recent reshuffle. Also chair of the party's policy-making committee. Has quietly pushed women's issues, criticising cosmetic firms for airbrushing images of models and calling for a tougher code of conduct. Married to Lib Dem colleague Duncan Hames.
Seen as the star of the "class of 2010" MPs who entered Parliament at the last election. Has been outspoken on justice, civil liberties and transport issues. Due to lead the conference debate on aviation strategy, in which he will call for a ban on any new runways at Heathrow and all other airports in the south of England.
SIR MENZIES CAMPBELL
One of the party's elder statesmen, the former leader remains a highly respected figure in Parliament and popular among activists. Recently issued a veiled warning to Vince Cable against any fraternization with senior Labour figures, saying the party must concentrate on seeing through the coalition until 2015.
A sporadic presence at Lib Dem conferences in recent years, the former leader remains one of the party's biggest draws. Highly sceptical about the alliance with the Conservatives, he has so far largely refrained from criticising the leadership and its central economic strategy. Will that change this week?
The Lib Dem peer has urged Nick Clegg to stand aside as leader before the next election, saying he had presided over a big collapse in support. Was slapped down by former leader Lord Ashdown but is unlikely to pull his punches on the fringe. Close to Vince Cable although the business secretary has disassociated himself from some of the peer's attacks.
Ryan Coetzee is not a household name, but Nick Clegg's new director of strategy will be expected to make his mark this week and in the coming months. A member of the Liberal Democrats' sister party in South Africa, he will be in charge of mapping out a distinctive path for the party in the run-up to the next election. His predecessor Richard Reeves has already caused a stir by suggesting the week will all be about Mr Clegg's leadership.
A number of recently departed ministers will appear at conference. Will they use their new-found freedom to criticise their former coalition partners? And what of Chris Huhne, the former Energy Secretary and leadership hopeful who is facing trial over alleged speeding offences. Will he appear in Brighton?