Well, that’s Blackpool done. I did contemplate blogging from there, but just couldn’t be bothered to lug the laptop around. Anyway, conference is for seeing old friends who I only meet once a year.
So, I’ll do a few round up pieces instead.
Before going I had already taken the decision that this was to be my last conference. I really don’t want to spend five days in Birmingham or Manchester – I like the seaside. And I’m convinced it will be wickedly expensive. The lovely ladies at the Birmingham stand in the exhibition tried very hard to convince us that there were lots of reasonable hotels, but what’s reasonable? It seems to me there will be a distinct lack of the £25 a night B & Bs where many people, (including a number of MPs), like to stay. Did I say like? Probably more truthful to say need to stay, as, with the possible exception of the MPs, they can’t spare more cash. The Birmingham boosters insist there are reasonable hotels only ten minutes away, and then an easy bus journey, etc, etc……..
Then there is the issue of car parking near the conference. And are there really sufficient venues from those holding only 40 people to those holding several hundred to cater for all the fringe meetings? At Blackpool a small room for 40 cost £300 to £400 for an hour. That’s OK for a trade or professional association, or lobbyists, but the Party’s own special interest groups have to pay that too, and just can’t afford it. If Birmingham charges more, fringe meetings of specialist groups will go out of the window, and the group’s credibility with it.
There is a case for moving the spring forum around the country, but to me, and many others, Party Conference means a visit to the seaside.
My friends have spent the five days trying to convince me to change my mind and go to Birmingham with them. Yes, I know I’ll enjoy their company, have some convivial dinners and a good laugh.
At the moment, though, the position remains that Blackpool was my last conference, and probably the best way to end it all as the faded Victorian grandeur receded into the distance.