Thursday, 2 October 2008
Highs and Lows of Party Conference
I've just returned from 4 days at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. It was good to see old friends but also many new faces. It was noticeable that from the top MPs to the lowest first time delegate this conference was less about moans and gossip and more about professional rolling up the sleeves for serious solutions.
Conference can be like living in a bubble away from the real world. Not so this year - delegates crowded round the TV screens to pick up the latest news from the markets and America. Cameron's impromptu speech on Tuesday offering support and suggestions to help stabilise the economy was exactly the right message at the right time.
My personal low point was coming back to the car after 3 nights in the local NCP to find the passenger window smashed. Its a long drive back home without any glass but a personal reminder of crime rates.
Another friend and Parliamentary candidate had a very worried face. She told me that one of the largest employers in the constituency she seeks to represent had just gone into bankruptcy. A profitable manufacturing company that has suffered from the lack of bank liquidity. Just a few hours later on that one issue, I was pleased to hear Cameron's plans to reduce burdens and taxes on businesses and reforming the bankruptcy laws could not happen soon enough. (Of course - I thought it was all a great speech - but I would!)
Off the main stage, from early morning to late night, I attended in depth meetings on foreign policy, International Aid for developing countries and food production/security. I met up with our other candidates for next years European elections and heard from Councillors across the UK their desire to keep council taxes down and the issues they face. This was definitely a conference dominated by serious discussions over cups of coffee.