Tuesday, September 20, 2005

 

Highs and lows

The one advantage of our failure to go out the night before was the distinct absence of a hang-over in the morning. Our approach for the day was to try and do as much as possible, and so after breakfast we headed straight down for the opening ceremony with the Mayor, followed by a fascinating debate on Europe. I’d read a fair amount about Nick Clegg’s leadership potential and he was certainly impressive on the podium, in spite of losing the debate in the end. One thing that I’m sure any new conference attendees will quickly realise is the conflict of interests between the parliamentary party and local councillors. Whilst MPs are the ones raising most of government revenue they tend to be more fiscally responsible, whilst MEPs and Councillors would much rather have a blank cheque. This was duly reflected in the debate where the 1% cap on E.U. funding was rejected as a result of emotive calls on the projects it may end, exemplified by the furniture recycling scheme in Thorpton. Following this, it was The Times fringe meeting which had to be the comedic highlight of the conference with Robert Thomson of the Times being surprisingly amiable for a journalist. The free lunch was also a bonus although I’m sure David Smith would question whether there is such a thing. This was followed by Kennedy’s Q & A session which yielded the archetypal political trait of answering another question from the one being asked. This said, Kennedy seemed very secure in his position as leader, and once again demonstrated his trademark charm, much in the same vein as Kenneth Clarke.
The evening started with The Independent’s fringe which was my first opportunity to see David Laws speak, someone I was very much interested in seeing after having read his controversial Orange Book. As a result of his ideological differences with Simon Hughes, a highly entertaining debate ensued, with David Laws in my view coming off the better, although as always Hughes managed to pull on the audience's heart strings. Following this, the “Which?” reception was generous to offer champagne and wine for the small price of standing in a long queue. That evening in the Imperial Bar a group of LDYS members managed to meet up and the rest of the night descended into a bit of a blur, although I do know that I failed to blag my way into the Bloomburg reception.

Highlight of the Day: Being able to ask David Laws a question at the Independent and then the editor-in-chief commenting that the question sounded more like that coming from a journalist than from an audience member.
Low point: Once again failing to win a mug in the electoral reform commission quiz.

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