Having not come to Birmingham (because, of course, I am not here), I did feel that I ought not to appear in the conference hall. In particular, I was not going to get involved with any debate on whether or not to suspend standing orders so as to allow Evan Harris to attempt to overturn the results of Liberal Democrat efforts to modify the proposed NHS reforms to reflect public concerns and liberal ideals.
So, naturally, I was merely exercising my trick right shoulder and it was a simple coincidence that I was holding a delegate card with my name and photograph on it that doesn't exist, when the motion to suspend standing orders was voted on. And it was clearly a misfortune of timing that Romer Hoseason was, at that moment, counting votes against the proposal. And, I must admit, it was a happy coincidence, because I strongly believe that, if you send your people off to negotiate with a strong brief, and they come back with the best deal they can get and they are still working to do better, you can't then interfere with their efforts. Unless you are Evan Harris, of course.
Evan, and his colleagues in the Social Liberal Forum, don't understand how coalitions work, especially when you're the junior partner. Or worse still, maybe they do, but don't care. In a coalition, you fight your battles with a view to the wider pictures, giving this up to get that. It's a partnership, not a master/slave relationship. So that's why I achieved the Liberal Democrat dream of being a minority victor, being on the wrong end of a 56% to 44% vote in favour of suspending the standing orders to allow Evan's emergency motion on the NHS to be added to the emergency motions ballot. He didn't get his required two-thirds majority, so the proposal was lost.
And now, if the Social Liberal Forum really want to work with our Peers to further improve the legislation, they can come up with a decent set of amendments that can be used to gain valuable improvements for a service we all cherish. They might be surprised to find a Parliamentary Party in the Lords that knows what is good for the country, is liberal, and will work. They'll also find a disciplined, hard working team who would quite appreciate a little appreciation from time to time. Just a thought, Evan...