Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Conference............................Highlights and Lowlights

OK, two weeks late, what do they say about old news being only fit for chip paper? Well, I'll take a risk and say my piece for what it may or may not be worth.

It was the first conference I have attended with my children (and grandchild - heavens I didn't think I'd have to wait that long!) - but it was worth the wait as both came back really enthused and wanting to book for autumn. But it has to be said, I did miss the freedom of coming and going as I pleased - and missed some debates in the process. However, highlights were:

  • Nick's speech - an excellent, inspiring and confident performance. He reminded me of why I supported him, I may not always agree with him on his methodology but I absolutely agree with his objectives. Just a little niggle about tax which I have already said a bit about, but otherwise a performance that left my children reflecting that if everyone had the opportunity to hear that speech they would have to vote for him.
  • The debate on Gaza. This was a difficult issue where there are well known differences of opinion within the party. There was a slight revision, but I was totally supportive of calling for a review of the EU Israel Association Agreement. Ed Davey was not and spoke against. But, conference clearly supported the move and the motion was passed intact. Given Ed had pledged to be guided by party policy on Middle East issues I did corner him afterwards to ensure he did so in this case as well. He pointed out that having lost his amendment he had then supported the main motion - so I look forward to him taking up this important issue.
  • Health - I did have a card in and have to confess to torturing my children by forcing them to sit through the whole thing in the expectation that their mum may be called............but she wasn't. But amended it looks like a good motion we can move forward on.
  • Gender Balance Bloggers Award - this was just too exciting, having never been nominated for anything in my life - the taking part was nail - biting. I have to say, I have actually only won one contest in my life. That was the sack race when I was 12. Oh, unless you count political contests of course! There was a great atmosphere and I have to say that I absolutely agree with judges in awarding the prize to Alix. She is a fabulous writer who writes with humour, intelligence and finesse, comprende......I just SHOUT! But it was great fun and I enjoyed being interviewed by Ros Scott, though it highlighted for me my dilemma in deciding who to back in the Presidential race.
  • Simon Hughes singing in the Glee Club...........awesome!
  • Lembit (just for being Lembit!)
  • Ed Fordham for his incredible sense of humour, when he is elected he will be SUCH an asset to our parliamentary party.......making politics real, popping pomposity and capturing the imagination of the electorate............are we ready for him? Oh yes!!!!

So, low lights?

  • The distance between the conference hotel and conference centre, this was particularly difficult for my daughter given that the creche was at the hotel.
  • Not enough time, catching people so briefly, especially my dear pal Colin Ross, who I spoke to for at least..........5 minutes!
  • The cost of accommodation, way over the top. In Harrogate I normally pay £30 a night. OK, I had extras with my family but I ended up paying £350. We cannot begin to think about being an inclusive party if the only members who can afford to attend are those who can afford those kind of prices.
  • Getting totally lost in the middle of Liverpool when my TomTom went completely loopy!

So, a great time was had by all I trust.

Now off out with pal Yas, who always seems to forget I am a granny and not quite up to partying all night.........the scary thing is that son Ravi is out in town too, I am sure he wouldn't appreciate bumping into mummy!

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