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    Tim Farron Quotes Joni Mitchell: "You Don't Know What You've Got Till It's Gone"

    "Except for one thing – we are not gone," the Liberal Democrat leader said.

    Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has declared that his party is "serious about power" and lost the election "because people didn't know who we were".

    In his first major conference speech as party leader, Farron said he was "proud" of the last five years in coalition with the Tories.

    "You know, if ever you doubted the effectiveness of the Liberal Democrats in government just look at what's happening without us," he said.

    "In the words of Joni Mitchell: 'Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.' Except for one thing – we are not gone."

    Farron said it was now his mission to put Lib Dems "back in power at every level throughout Britain".

    "We didn't lose the election because our policies weren't good enough," he said, "or because our manifesto wasn't long enough – we lost because people didn't know who we were, what our values were."

    And he called on thousands of "liberals" in the Conservatives, the SNP, and Labour to join the Liberal Democrats.

    Quoting Jo Grimond, the former Liberal party leader, Farron said: "In times of war, in times of doubt, generals were advised to march their troops towards the sound of gunfire.

    "Well, troops, I hear gunfire."

    Farron also mentioned his teenage band Fred the Girl, also known as the Voyeurs.

    He told activists they "may have seen the photos", adding: "The only good thing I can say is that because the photos are pre-digital they are so low resolution that you can't make out the eye-liner."

    He revealed that the keyboard player had recently suggested they should reform and enter ITV's X Factor. Farron said: "I said: 'One, we're 45; two, I'm a bit busy; three, we're still rubbish.'

    "So you will be pleased to learn that my relationship with X Factor will remain as being merely a viewer – just for the kids, of course."