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Banks and Labour on the ropes - here come the Lib Dems...

Andrew Neil | 09:13 UK time, Monday, 15 September 2008

With not one but two massive US investment banks on the ropes, triggering even more financial turmoil (including a collapse in share prices), and Gordon Brown increasingly surrounded by rebels baying for his blood, it would be hard to claim that the Liberal Democrats' autumn conference here in Bournemouth was at the top of anybody's news schedule.

But it has its interest nevertheless: after years espousing the virtues of a more collectivist tax-and-spend approach than even Labour was prepared to contemplate, the Lib Dems have now rediscovered the virtues of the market and are now calling for lower taxes and smaller government. Whether this is a genuine conversion or provoked by fear of being wiped out by the Tories in the South of England we will test when we kick off our party conference coverage for 2008 with a big interview with the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg. We'll also find time to ask him why his party now sounds more Eurosceptic (which suggests the Tories really do have them rattled).

Not everybody here in Bournemouth is happy with the change in direction, which will be debated and voted on today. But Mr Clegg can count on the support of his popular economics spokesman, Vince Cable; we'll carry his keynote speech live. We'll also hear from a former party bigwig who argues Nick Clegg needs to take the party to the right of the Conservatives to avoid defeat (you can watch what he - Mark Littlewood - has to say right now, here). Since that's what he seems to be doing, the bigwig will no doubt be a happy chappie. And we've got the results of an exclusive Daily Politics poll on taxation.

We'll also have all the latest on the rebellious Labour MPs eager to give Gordon Brown the chop and any political fallout from the financial ructions, which won't make the PM's life any easier. That's all in today's Daily Politics Conference Special, live from Bournemouth and London, on BBC2 from Noon.

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