Patrick McLoughlin in the spotlight

The first full day of the Conservative Party Conference gets underway later this morning at the ICC in Birmingham.

Party conference begins

Thousands of delegates have arrived in Birmingham for the annual Tory party conference.

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The Midlands should praise the Lib Dems for making the "big decisions"

by Alison MacKenzie

As Nick Clegg looks to revive battered spirits at the party's annual conference in Brighton, he has sent a message to the Midlands: "people will be better off from April next year because the Lib Dems have taken the big decisions on income tax."

He was responding to the party's poor showing in recent opinion polls, which show the Lib Dems could lose half their seats at the next election.

There are currently only two Liberal Democrat MPs in the whole of the Midlands – Lorley Burt at Solihull and John Hemming at Birmingham Yardley. But, their embattled leader insists he can turn fortunes in their favour by 2015.

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