By Matthew Barrett
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Read today's political news and you get a clear sense that Liberal Democrats are dominating the political agenda. That is because their spring conference is being held this weekend. Although not entirely positive for them, the free publicity has allowed Lib Dems the chance to own the debate about taxation for the last few days.
For the first time since many Tories have been involved in politics, there was no Spring conference this year. Where has it gone? Paul Goodman reported in November last year that Spring Forum would be greatly reduced in size, and limited to, according to a CCHQ press release at the time "a one day event [that] will be focused on the issues concerning the Voluntary Party. The agenda will be designed to promote a conversation amongst senior volunteers, senior politicians and the professional party". That Spring meeting took place last Saturday. At the meeting, David Cameron gave a speech outlining his definition of a fairer Britain. Boris also launched his nine-point plan for London.
Neither event got the publicity they were due. The Independent covered David Cameron's speech, and called the event simply a "meeting of activists". This scaled-down format didn't allow the Conservatives to dominate the weekend, or even the day. In a crucial election year for Boris in London, and local councils across the country, a Spring Forum would have achieved much better coverage in the media, and sent activists home with a determined spirit for the coming months. Instead, one of only two events a year when activists from across the country come together has simply been axed.