In brief

They may insist they are a party of government, but even Lib Dem activists thought the latest proposal was stretching their influence a bit too far - after calls for the Government to delay any Parliamentary vote on the Trident issue until they'd actually come up with some policies.

They may insist they are a party of government, but even Lib Dem activists thought the latest proposal was stretching their influence a bit too far - after calls for the Government to delay any Parliamentary vote on the Trident issue until they'd actually come up with some policies.

Former front-bench spokesman Norman Baker led calls yesterday for ministers to hold a vote on the future of the nuclear warheads after the party's spring conference in Harrogate next year.

At present the Lib Dem leadership has consulted on the issue but will not form a policy for another six months. Mr Baker said: "I think it's appalling and irresponsible for the Government to try to force it through with haste when there's not been proper consultation for the three parties."

It was left to the party's defence spokesman Lord Garden to point out the obvious: "I am a bit dubious that the Government will organise its policy making around the dates of the Liberal Democrat spring conference."

BEFORE they even get to Manchester, war has broken out in the Labour ranks - over the sponsorship of the lanyards everyone will have to wear to hold their pass.

The ribbons have been sponsored this year by Sky News and bear the name of the Rupert Murdoch-owned organisation.

But a trade union has produced a rival lanyard which it believes will be more popular among the delegates, media and visitors to the conference, which opens in Manchester on Sunday.

The GMB will offer to exchange official white lanyards for its red ones, highlighting its campaign against the AA over jobs and claims that disabled workers have been targeted for redundancy.

POLICE have been forced to change security arrangements for Labour's Manchester conference after a laptop containing policing plans was stolen from a car.

Thieves stole the laptop from a car being driven by a member of the armed forces while it was parked at a motorway service station on the M3 in Hampshire on Tuesday. The conference begins on Sunday.

The laptop also contained security plans for the Tory party conference in Bournemouth next month.

The MoD said security arrangements had been "fully reviewed" as a result of the theft.

"An incident has taken place which is being investigated by police," a spokesman said.

"In light of this incident, security arrangements for the conference have been fully reviewed and internal security procedures re-examined."

EX-Labour MP Brian Sedgemore launched a stinging attack on the Government on the final day of the Liberal Democrat conference yesterday, accusing it of "lies, distortions and evasions".

Mr Sedgemore, who defected to the Lib Dems last year after 27 years as a Labour MP, criticised Tony Blair over the "erosion" of civil liberties and warned that Gordon Brown would be no better. He branded the Chancellor a "deeply illiberal, authoritarian, coward".

Mr Sedgemore is no longer an MP, but he tried to rally the Lib Dems by adding: "If we want to do signal service to the citizens of our country, our historic role must be to accelerate the destruction of Labour as a viable political force and become, ourselves, the progressive alternative to the Tories."

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