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Post-conference reflections Sep 21

Now I’m home with my trusty laptop…

  • The more conferences I go to, the fewer formal sessions (debates, fringes, training) I seem to take part in
  • British Airways flights are great. Free food and drink and a video monitor showing you the plane’s route, altitude, speed, etc. I could get used to that, green tax switch permitting.
  • If you go to an organisation’s AGM, be prepared to leave as an executive committee member (in my case, of Liberal Democrats Online).
  • Conference is draining, physically, emotionally and, most of all, financially.
  • It’s also very long.
  • Wearing a John Hemming badge gets you noticed.
  • Not necessarily in a good way.
  • I am a geek:
  • Me and the fridge magnets
  • Therefore, I was immediately able to recognise the song which accompanied the second photo montage preceding Ming’s speech as the theme tune to [Star Trek:] Enterprise.
  • And was suitably appalled. I hope LibDemVoice identify the Cowley Street Trekkie responsible.
  • I met loads of marvellous people, more than normal, and mostly through blogging.
  • There is a real positive feeling in the party again.

More may follow as the memories return. Back to work tomorrow. And good luck to those in Oxford working on today’s council by-election!

Farewell, Brighton Sep 21

And that’s conference for another year. Ming’s speech was very good, featuring a particulary incisive joke about Hurricane Gordon (it’s a grey depression that spins and sucks everything to the centre). He hit all the right notes and energised the audience.

Afterwards, for the first time, an MP called me by name, so hurrah for Greg Mulholland. These things matter 🙂

Now to Gatwick – and beyond!

Chris Rennard, I challenge you Sep 21

The highlight of yesterday afternoon (hell, of the whole day) was playing the LibDem Image game at their stall. They have made badges and fridge magnets of our 63 MPs and the game involves trying to put all the magnets onto a board in alphabetical order in as quick as time as possible. I am slightly competitive so had to have a go. Needless to say, I bettered the existing top time by nearly a minute and will be popping back to the stall shortly to see if any superhuman delegate has topped by time. If you’re reading this at conference this morning, why not go along and see if you can fail miserably at doing better than me? 🙂

After I had finished, Chris Rennard wandered by the stall and, I’m told, declared that of course he could beat the best time but wasn’t going to demonstrate there and then. In the unlikely event that he’s reading this – Lord Rennard, I challenge you to try. Beat my time and I will give five of your human pounds to the party campaign of your choice. Fail, and you give a fiver to the campaign of my choice.

If you don’t take up the challenge, Chris, I shall assume you are chicken. Or have better things to do with your time on the day of Ming’s speech. Or maybe don’t read this blog.


The last day Sep 21

As I type, it’s relatively early on Thursday morning and I’m knackered. Going night after night with rather less sleep and more beer than usual takes it out of you.

I’ve finally managed to get back on one of the PCs in the conference centre. Since we last spoke, I’ve not actually been to that much, preferring to potter around aimlessly much of the time. I did make it into the hall for a debate on water conservation and another on local government. The latter was one of the oddest debates I’ve ever been to and culminated in the very LibDem result of a “reference back” – basically declaring that the local government policy paper wasn’t good enough and asking the Federal Policy Committee to think again. Andrew Stunnell, who had been on reasonable form when he opened the debate, made the not unusual parliamentarian mistake of responding grumpily to the reference back motion which actually made him less likely to win the vote.

Popped along to Michael White’s interview with Ming Campbell, which would’ve been better if White had concentrated on asking questions rather than cracking contrived jokes. This session was followed by Ed Davey’s campaign presentation, which, despite its name, was a speech – mostly good, with some interesting content, but one or two rather dodgy jokes.

On Tuesday night, I went to a BBC World Service panel on global (in)security in the post-9/11 world. The panellists included Paddy Ashdown and Tim Garden, both of whom were excellent. Went on after dinner to a disco, which, as always at conference, had some of the hallmarks of a wedding reception. At midnight, the mixing desks turned back into a pumpkin and we reassembled in the hotel bar.

Sat on the Liberal Democrats Online stall for a bit yesterday, from which vantage point I spotted BBC Chairman Michael Grade at the BBC stand. After a cheap dinner of chicken and chips (as by Wednesday the cash runs dry) I went to the Liberal Democrats Online fringe on online campaigning. This was packed, which was good to see, and all three speakers – Mark Pack, Martin Tod and Ed Davey – had lots of interesting things to say. Then to Glee Club, a very traditional Liberal do involving communal singing. It’s a bit variable, but was fun once it got going, and the Liberal Revue team (who were in a pitiable state*) contributed some funny turns to liven things up. Had a relatively early night, sneaking off to bed before 2.

Up this morning mainly to get a PC before the rush. Got a shower courtest of the window cleaner at the Metropole who looked suitably apologetic.

*Makes no sense if you weren’t there. Sorry.

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