Revoke and remain: inside the Lib Dem party conference podcast
today it's conference season. I up the Liberal Democrats and why are people being killed over. I have a sound the political party conference season has begun the time of year when party members and politicians Titians meet to debate and vote on policy here. Led speak and bad hotel wine late into the night station is pleased in between this weekend the Liberal Democrats to send it on the seaside town of Bouma fired up by the new leader Jay Swinson Stop Brexit and win a brighter future with a membership an all time high and the arrival live six MP from other parties. I would like you to meet the nearest Liberal Democrats and pay some female. The teams are hoping this is the start of their resurgence and on Sunday. Members voted overwhelmingly to revoke article fifty. If you get into government that is overwhelmingly carried. Thank you very much everyone. This has been criticized including my son from within the Party and I think that the polarization that we're seeing is actually incredibly dangerous. I think we're playing with fire in many ways from the Guardian. I'm Rachel Humphries today. In focus focus will the Liberal Democrat strategy of revoke and remain payoff the sale the National Conference Center in Bournemouth. There was an Democrat delegates streaming through these tools wearing their yellow Lan Yang. It's come through in corporates area and I could just see up ahead. Peter Walker Guardians Political correspondent pizza. Hello I'm alright. What's the mood been like here really really buoyant everyone you talk to you. They say this is you. You know my favorite lipscomb conference ever. They've they've gotten you leader. They've got these new. MP's like seemed to a new one every single week today's new policies. I think they're brexit policies election winner. They keep on predicting that if the polls says they are you there is an election they can get anything between fourteen and one hundred M which sounds yeah. That's what keeps saying that's their modeling is saying. I think hundred is very very very topic but you know even though that explaining policy as if they want to enter govern on their own in realistic to him reasonable chance so they could end up holding the balance of power and in much the same way I trump since conservative opposition very much as the brexit minded party they are very much remain party and this new pledge to revoke Article v Stop Brexit in the admittedly unlikely event they win. General election cements them in in voters mind you come last year. This is my very first conference. People who say it's different to other conferences and very much because Labor until we conference is a quite cool put in very serious lip spoiler third party. Have these strange strange kind of conditions. I do have Karaoke party had last night after famous lib-dem Glee Club but the all sing kind of statistical songs Ah Liberal Democrat. MP's people which is actually this evening very popular event and do you have to go. It's very apparent. Yes I do have to. We're we're going to have to go. It would be fair to say than the Liberal Democrats had a turbulent few years and twenty seventeen gene. They won just twelve seats across the country as a pro-european. Party brexit has presented them with an opportunity to more success in recent European and local elections combined with the arrival of new MP's. It's really reinvigorated and reshape. Philip downs say much the party conference gift shop kind of struggling to keep Deepak. This is a sea of yellow this at de Schelde therefore everything that's monks run a quantum should I okay positions through the every. MP You can get a Mug for them. I was I was talking to shop. It's very disappointed haven't had time to do mugs than NPR's yet. Apparently they're wasting LYTHAM central office to send the pictures over says no look. There's no service I'm Jay Switzerland. I think they sold out of Jersey mugs and they've been saying to you about the new. MP's when we joke with many of them on the mugs but what do you think people make all this weekend. Sanjay coming into party fittingly be Santa Birger are they are they pleased are concerned for the most part people live really really pleased because it's new empties and they lift off a centrist party and to be able to get MP's from both the left and the right is really really pleasing for them. Positively is everywhere. This conference eighth on the floor of the auditorium venture mean gives his maiden speech. This brings me to emergencies opposition. I know a bit about the opposition and it's in the meeting room where standing-room-only Feliciana Lisa verge of taking questions from delegates. It does feel like these new. MP's really boosting morale way just outside the exhibition fishing center and lots of good milling around here. What do you think about the new he's coming from Labour from the conservatives. I think it's really funny that some Jima Rats leader Conservative foty now. He's one of us but then again I mean he did run lead with the Conservative Party on a second referendum Renton platform which was bulls by did speak to some people who were more cautious about the party becoming a home philosophy. MP's is this your first time at this at this conference. Does the party failed different. Does it feel more exciting or show me yeah. There is a huge rati here rushing different people there's also the damage is people with all signs of different ideas. Sometimes the variety is hard to take in because because there are some quite free market-oriented people and they're the opposite like me guaranteed some of the new. MP's door joint sometimes the weekend or don't actually know enough about them historic records. You'll be welcome them into the Party and I'm worried but it may be the there was a lot of controversy about Philip me. WHO's record is questionable but I would be in a national crisis absolutely what people actually do meet findlay. He wasn't too recently a conservative. MP until he crossed the floor of the Commons enjoying the Liberal Democrats are the largest spoke to said there's been a lot of criticism of some of his views and his voting record particularly of his stunts on LGBT rights and an amendment he made to the Immigration Bill in two thousand fourteen so very interested to meet him and just find out how it's open going in the past couple of weeks conference. Hola Tory party conference was like stage-managed rally wasn't democracy in action here they're actually discussing and members on the floor and voting and and yes that can have challenges for for the management for the Party and things. That's well documented but you know what I'd rather have it like this. Then the way my former boss he did it and EV. Oh Oh the MP's of join the temps in recent weeks. I think yours was probably the most dramatic events is in to the party. Now you cross the floor in the Commons. Wall Lawrence Johnston was honest. Feverish Irish Irish are old and need watched. His majority disappear foyer is is he made that journey why did you did you choose to do it like that. I think when the whole prorogation business this started towards the end of August undeniably that accelerated my thinking the needed to be a you're just he's not doing this moment. This is not right yeah. It's been but thinking when I was watching got. I imagine you being quite nervous just seconds before you knew you were going to do it and then old the jazz and I wear unfortunate to wear I watch and I sat down next to Chase Winston about full foam and this is so after I sat down my my started to vibrate and I thought that was flashing. I mean I hadn't ever seen do this before I don't really understand my entirety and and I looked at it and it was telling me that my pulse rate was running at more than one hundred twenty and I wasn't moving which obviously is a doctor okay so I was deep breathing reading for a bit chart to manage my post seriously yes. It was not easy. It has been a lot of coverage of your voting record cord in the past and one day's news coverage. They've been coverage of of misrepresentation of my views. There are issues when you've been other party. You've been whipped vote for things. Do you think that immigrants should be tested for HIV or Hepatitis B. The country remind viewers was better that people coming into this country we knew the status so that they can be treated and they'll say that we could prevent further infection spreading and and that's not how it's being portrayed in Corson's drew upon my medical experience when you've been confronted the reality of a sub Saharan African patient presenting with an AIDS defining illness in general practice this this person not knowing that they were HIV positive advance so therefore they've been leading a life like anyone else without any knowledge if things. I didn't know your listenership understand what probing probing amendments are. Probing amendments are are not to be pushed to vote to. This wasn't about legislation. This was about trying to provoke debate but above all the motivation Asian was protecting patients protecting public health and I hope in Tyne enough people understand the head of the Liberal Democrats. LGBT group resigned when you join the party. How did you feel about and are you having conversations with. LGBT members within within. Ah Yes I'm having conversations and I had one. This morning. Agreed with people going to have another one this afternoon. Throughout all of this. I've tried to remain calm despite a genuine upset personally at being described in this way not least because I wouldn't want my patience to think this of me and you describe the last couple weeks has been quite difficult time making the the move into this posse no I wouldn't I I would say that actually join. The party is being remarkably pleasant experience. I have no regrets. There's a big event on the calendar for conference tonight. It's the Glee Glee Club where I think. There's a lot of singing. Will he be going. I'm not going no. I know this is a terrible thing to say. I have other plans. I can say next year. I suspect I will be there because I gather. It is an event that you have to attend. Thank you very much. Thank you couldn't go typically club but we decided tape and he wasn't exactly what I expected from a party conference. This seems has to be some disagreement about the first so which is very auspicious. Don Entente we need to provide fences with more support and at the young person I fully support nature is all dolled gave to a it definitely was different It's very sunny Tuesday morning boomer the morning after the night before where a few of the Liberal Democrat. MP's were initiated. I think three song I'm I'm one of them was formerly labor and pay. I'm going to speak to now great. Thank you conjoined comforts during his love to be here and booth a confident that Liberal Democrats at the next election are going to be able to win over Labour fighters absolutely I've seen no doubt the fact that every party within the membership and I've seen different figures Biz at Lee seventy percent of its membership support remain in the European Union incredibly frustrated that they find themselves as part of a party that cannot commit to that bats and still is prevaricating this position turning both ways. You know you have brexit tear at its helm. Jeremy Corbyn did not campaign into may stay in. I didn't campaign in the heated to remain the European Union is daunting on the head of a pin to trying to play all sides and people even waiting to take aside pick aside. What is your position and you've always been a passionate supporter of a people's vote and over the weekend. The conference delegates voted in favor of the party's new policy to revoke article fifty. Do you use the ASS tickly support my now now a Liberal Democrat Party said and as Jerry said our preference first preference a priority is still for that people's but but we have to contend with breath in the political variety that we might find ourselves. Jason has said that she doesn't want to work in coalition with Jeremy Corbyn do you do you agree with that. I think there is everything to play for this. Next election. Within the digital party system that comes from the twentieth century is becoming less and less relevant inside the scientist shifting and actually when you look what is on offer the team main parties Johnson versus Kuban is not a very very exciting choice and in fact it's pitiful choice and in my view is no choice because having to choose between is the least worst option is is no choice voice in my in my book the Democrats as a Party under the leadership of Jason Anderson is looking is positive that does wanted to change politics that doesn't want to tackle issues that really matter our country particularly around the climate emergency and unequivocal position on brexit something took four. Ucla thank you into the speech states today. Thank you move jobs as we all know that commitment has never been Boris is Johnson strong state but eighth clear he's determined when it comes to crushing his out with Ota Deal Joe Farraj might be Brexit by name but it is very clear that Jeremy Corbyn is Brexit by nature sure a Liberal Democrats majority government will revoke Article V on Day One. It will make it was really interesting speech. You know let them set the expectations relatively low because she's awesome very effective party leader but she's not always been the most exciting speaker but she really ramped up. This is a pre-election speech to get the activists backcombed their constituents assist with five min- Betty say this has got to fight so it was brexit with other policies to lucky environment like things like knife crime. If you're feeling optimistic is this this is talk of something big. There's an election in a few months where they get one hundred. MP's if you're feeling pessimistic this is good as it gets over the weekend. Jason and criticize David Cameron Cameron for cooling the referendum but she's being criticized ourselves for clips been doing the rounds on social media for having the same position in two thousand and eight. I would like to have a referendum on the major show but perhaps more damaging is the criticism we heard from within her party. The last couple of days about the current breakfast position about revoking article fifty snowmen lamb said it's playing with fire and counseling are Hogson stood on this stage and gave very powerful speech opposing now when I go on the doors in London I have not done thousands and thousands of doors in Sunderland people say something to me again and again and I will will it come see this is a phrase that went from our opposition. It's the will of the people. This is the will of the people you're trying to overturn the will of the people now. I disagree awesome and I'll argue back to them some reluctantly that we can make people's vote but the point remains. They're not completely wrong. I don't think that I think we need to bend a little bit. How is the policy going to justify this position with voters on the doorstep. They see it as essentially it's like gamble overall in terms of popularity within the party they had a vote in the conference hall and it was overwhelmingly passed. There is some descent but people are at the very least willing to give them the benefit of doubt over in terms of justifying. Does I mean there's two things one thing is. We are a parliamentary treat democracy. We're not a referendum based so if you win an absolute majority in parliament if you stand in an election saying that is our policies. Mestre manifesto was in black and white and you've got a perfect democratic right to then introduce it the other one is to the kind of slut get out is they would only do that if they want. Jordan parliament which frankly they're not going to their first choice they they say remains a people's second brexit referendum and we've had a lot of talk over the last few days that it will. Democrats could get two hundred seats seats in the next election even two hundred chucker mentioned at one point. I think you might be thought possibly but how realistic okay slats sort of forty two hundred. Baker has been heard times here. What are you talk privately to kind of seen in the Thames. They will say to you kind of forty. Is The base level. If they got below that would be really disappointed and if you think now they'd go eighteen now so that'd be quite a big increase and say beyond that it really really depends if there's a kind of swinson bounce if things go well you know they're currently up to twenty percent in the polls if they go up to twenty five or even twenty eight percent then one hundred or more seats is possible the basically in the modern political world brexit. No one knows there's so many things that could go right and could go wrong and if they were to wait if he seats and find themselves where they were perhaps back in two thousand ten holding the balance of power. Do you think they would go into coalition again and with against with either conservatives or the Labor Party. It's a tricky one because they've been completely adamant. Swinson has has been adamant again and again and again that she will not support either Boris Johnson Jeremy Corbyn Spam. She said they are unfit to hold the office and even if you ask a would it be a potentially a confidence and supply tight while we don't have a formal deal. She Sang APPs. We will not do it and it is perfectly possible. They will beholding the balance of power. I'm not sure where it goes from that you know it could just be that they try and pressure. Labor into getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn and putting in another leader but you know as the smallest party of the big three might not necessarily have that clock pizza. Thank you speak insists. Thank you very much pleasure. The guardians excellent political team covering all the conferences and the legal challenge to prorogation in the Supreme Court is week full of their work at the GUARDIAN DOT COM coming up the fatal consequences of sand being sold on the black market now when journalists been spy read about the death of policemen Chouhan a fifty two year old farmer from India. He couldn't believe that someone had been killed over sound even though it seems like the most trivial thing in the world sand is actually the most important solid substance on earth. It's the raw material that we build. Our cities. Out of concrete is basically just sand and gravel stuck together every apartment block every shopping mall every office tower. That's built anywhere on earth is basically just a huge pile of sand and the crazy thing is we are starting to run now. We are building cities on pace an adult scale that has never remotely happened before in Human History about seventy seventy million people move into cities every year. That's the equivalent of adding eight New York City's to the planet every single year so even though there's a lot of it when you're talking about quantities that big you know sand is is ultimately find like anything else so people often ask. Why can't can't we just use sand in the desert where there's obviously plenty of sand and the reason is all of that sand in the desert is basically useless to US desert sand and has been eroded over hundreds thousands millions of years by wind and that's given a kind of a rounded smooth shape whereas the grains that you find on the bottoms of rivers and on beaches on lake bed's sharper in their more angular and so they lock together better to form concrete so we harvest sand or we might add all over the world the cheapest and easiest way is to get it from the bottom of a river just send out a dredge drop a pipe to the bottom of the river basically a big straw and just but obviously mostly that is really bad for the river first of all anything that was living on that river bottom. Will you've just pretty much wipe them out. It can also be incredibly destructive active to infrastructure very often. What happens is the riverbanks then collapse in some places like in Vietnam entire villages have literally slid into the river governments are realized that San Mine and can be tremendously damaging to the environment so they try to limit it. If you're a criminal gang you don't care about that you just WanNa go wherever you can get the most sand as cheaply as possible and this is the story of Polygram Chauhan one day this gang the sand mafia came to his village and just seized control of about two hundred acres of the villages farmland tore. We're up all the crops ripped up all the topsoil and started digging up the sand that was underneath it so polygram who sort of a leader in his village try to organize his fellow villagers to get these guys to stop but because there's so much corruption in the system they couldn't get anyone to really take action the leader of the sand miners tick polygram aside and said look you are really starting to to become a nuisance. You're bad for business. Stop it or we're going to kill you. The polygram uh-huh didn't stop instead. He reported that threat to the police three days later. A couple of guys on a motorcycle kicked in the door of his house and shot him mm dead in his own bed. When I say that sand is running out people often think that means that you know any day now we're GonNa get to the very last little heap of sand. We're going to be fighting over the last little bucket of sand. That's not going to happen anytime soon. There's lots of sand still in the world but what is happening is very similar to what's happening with oil and gas the stuff. That's easiest to get has mostly been tapped out so we're having to go further further and further and do more and more damage to get at the stuff that's left. People are starting to finally become more more aware of this problem. The United Nations for instance just last year convened the first ever in worldwide meeting the people concerned about the the San crisis but it's definitely still got a long way to go. You can read more about this. Convinces book the world in a grain the story sound and how it transformed civilization. That's all for today next week. Initially will be reporting from a Labour Party conference in Brighton thanks to Walker violently and Louisiana Birger. Today's producers were mightly row Elizabeth Casson and Gary Marshall. Sound design is by execute gay. The executive produces a phil. You may not a Nicole Jackson. We'll be back tomorrow.