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Lib Dems 'need to re-establish identity'
LIBERAL Democrat members need to reassert the party's identity before the next General Election, the group's regional chairman has said.
The South Central branch of the party met at Cressex Community School on Saturday, with Bucks members meeting their counterparts from Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire.
The Lib Dems make up part of the current coalition government and regional chairman Liz Leffman admitted the party needs to do more to distinguish itself from the Conservatives.
But she said the party was confident of success at the 2015 General Election, pointing to their victory in the recent Eastleigh byelection.
She told the Bucks Free Press: "A lot of people are unclear about what our policies are, or how we are different [from the Conservatives]. We are not just going along with what they are proposing, we have a mind of our own and we need to emphasise that.
"We've had a lot of byelection success in this region. We've done well on some of our key seats. In Oxford and Abingdon West we've won six out of seven byelections in the last few months. We've got to be very optimistic at the possibility of success in the General Election."
Addressing members during the conference, Ms Leffman said voters had "forgotten their anger over tuition fees".
She explained: "When we were campaigning in 2011 people said they were never going to vote Lib Dem again because we'd gone backwards on our promises.
"People have realised that students get quite a good deal. They are not having to pay back for quite a long time. People who go to university are having to pay but are doing so when they are earning money."
Reflecting on the conference as a whole Ms Leffman said: "It's been very lively, lots of people are here and there's plenty of debate.
"I'm very pleased we've got such a large number of people who've come here to the conference. There's a real sense of people coming together."
Mike Thornton, who won the Eastleigh seat at the byelection, gave a speech at the conference, as did Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey and south east MEP Sharon Bowles.
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