Lib Dems table motion to publish minutes of Johnson and Sue Gray meeting

Jamie Stone: ‘The Liberal Democrat conference showed a party that prioritises openness and transparency’

Now that we are on the other side of the first in-person Liberal Democrat Autumn conference in 4 years, I have some thoughts.

Firstly, what a joy it was to be back. As a parliamentarian, my job really is to listen and then to represent. From the constituents I bump into at ASDA to Secretaries of State in the House of Commons, it is rare that I come across a person whose knowledge doesn’t make me better at what I do. 

That is what makes conference so valuable not only to the party as a whole but also to me as a self-professed liberal. The press takes a keen interest – and rightly so – in getting to the bottom of what the Liberal Democrats stand for. Over the course of this weekend, I saw in action what it means to be a Lib Dem. 

As a party that prioritises openness and transparency, many debates took place this weekend which you might not see at other party conferences. Where other parties are more concerned with Number 10 and obsessed with disciplining its members, the Liberal Democrats remain staunchly broad-minded. It goes without saying, that the contentious housing motion which saw the Young Liberals take a stand against the party leadership was quite the debate to witness. Regardless of where one stood on the issue, a universal appreciation of the conversation itself was palpable in the auditorium that day. That is what it means to be both liberal and democratic. 

Speaking of the Young Liberals, it was eminently encouraging to see so many young people at this conference. What a difference it makes to the weekend, both in terms of serious business and frivolous fun. Stories of a notorious Glee Club event have truly reminded me of my age. 

I have observed – perhaps partly down to the rise of social media and exposure to such diverse opinions online – that these Young Liberals are the most free-thinking generation than I have seen in my time. Many of them will vote very much with their own minds, and not so much because of how their parents voted or because of where they come from. I feel more confident than ever that the future of our party is in good hands.

As for the present, my confidence is just as sure. Ed Davey’s speech on the final day of conference has been very well-received. This was his first conference as party leader and quite likely his last before the next General Election. With 4 by-election victories under his belt (so far!), and a competent approach to our health services and economy, it is no wonder that people all over the UK are starting to put their faith back in the Liberal Democrats. What I’ve found particularly interesting is Ed’s cut through to Scotland. It harks back to the days when Charles Kennedy could achieve that in all corners of the UK, and that is no bad thing.

Perhaps I have been bragging. It’s not all sunshine and flowers. I was asked to participate in an egg and spoon race with worthy competitor James Heale of the Spectator, and I can’t honestly and transparently say that it went very well for me. Although, to claim – as the Times has done – that I was “trounced” may be… over-egging it. is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.