Lib Dem diary: A tale of two storms

By Sean Dilley

It’s the penultimate day of Lib Dem conference in Brighton and two storms are seemingly stealing focus from the impressively attended mid-term summit.

The first, of course, is the horrendous weather that has blighted spirits from the off – but the more frustrating storm being the tea cup that is Andrew Mitchell’s gate-gate.

Tom Brake all but threw a hissy fit on Sky News this morning when Adam Boulton dared to ask about the affair. The deputy leader of the House told protested that the focus should be on Liberal Democrat conference rather than on what this half of the coalition regard to be a Tory issue.

 Police report confirms Mitchell's 'plebs' slur

And indeed there are weighty matters being discussed today, above and beyond wind trouble. On an unrelated note, for instance, Danny Alexander is speaking on the economy, a speech that should attract attention given his influential position in Cameron’s Quad. Later, party members will debate whether or not to vote against government policy on the justice and security bill.

The always cheerful Shami Chakrabarti tells me she is concerned the coalition’s secret courts plan does nothing more than protect the blushes of spooks. Clearly the last thing on her mind is whether or not Andrew Mitchell was rude last Wednesday.

But notwithstanding my own frustrations with gate-gate, I must profess to having had to kick myself when I missed a golden opportunity for giggles. I was walking along the seafront when I saw four police officers angle-grinding the lock off a push cycle left secured to a railing outside the Hilton hotel, some 30 yards outside the secure zone.

The first thought that went through my mind was that this seemed perhaps a bit heavy handed. But when I did a 360 to photograph the event for (strapline: ‘Police get their own back on Mitchell’) the offending cycle was (chief) whipped away before one could say 'pleb'.

Sean Dilley is a political writer and broadcaster. Follow him on Twitter.