As seen from the Blue Room (#cpc09 for twitter)
Expectations and Aspirations for Conservative Party Conference 2009
I am no longer a ‘noob’, having lost my conference virginity at last year’s conference, although I am far from being an old timer just yet either! So I thought I’d share a few thoughts before, during and after conference for newbies and veterans alike since Party Conference is THE major event for any political aficionado anorak like myself, and the wonderful thing about conference is the variety of interesting people to meet.
Firstly, I should say what a pleasure it is to write for Boris’s blog, particularly since Boris has been so pivotal to my political journey, albeit short and as yet unglamorous! I watched with glee as Boris was appointed mayoral candidate, glad that we finally had a candidate with oudles of character and unlimited opinions. I started off handing out flyers, taxi receipts and oyster card holders and met similarly enthused Boris loving activists. Like me, this was the first time many had been activists, inspired by Boris. Towards the end of the campaign we were whizzing around London suburbs as the advance team, preparing the ground for the imminent arrival of the blonde one and I was lucky enough to be invited to the election night party. After which I was addicted to politics and determined to help fight for change. So off I schlepped to my first conference in 2008.
Going to party conference is akin to a chocoholic being invited to a planet of chocolate. From the moment you arrive you are surrounded by fascinating people, enthralling subjects and you feel the force, the sense of being connected. The conference consists of literally hundreds of fringe debates on every conceivable subject, to suit every interest and MPs walk amongst us, like A-list celebrities on the red carpet, not to mention the recognisable faces of the political media.
Even though I knew no-one at first, I soon found myself chatting to people who came from all over the country, from all sorts of backgrounds and of all ages. Before I left, one of my friends had snarkily snorted “you be the only person there under 50”, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of people I saw and meet were under 50 and those who I met over 50 were just as warm, entertaining and energetic. My first dilemma was trying to decide between countless clashes on the fringe, finding rooms and scurrying back to the main hall for the really interesting speeches. Of course last year, Boris was one of the first big speakers on the main stage, still relatively fresh from his recent win. Conference listened in awe. I found it reasonably easy to get a great seat for most of the speeches, although I must admit that I found a couple of sneaky ways to get a good view last year that I couldn’t possibly share. One by one I ticked off my Panini sticker ™ album of shadow cabinet ministers; Grant Shapps, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, George Osborne and then the hastily rescheduled speech on the economy from Cameron gave me almost a full house.
Timforchange will be blogging and live-tweeting daily from party conference. Timforchange is a conservative activist based in Surrey. Join Tim and other conservative activists, blog, comment and find out about the latest events on www.theblueroomforum.com or if you’re a progressive conservative www.brightblueonline.com and follow him on twitter @timforchange.
This conference has to deliver a number of things:
- Cameron has the mandate to be radical, he will never have the same level of attention, nor the desire for change from the country and the media. I am hoping he offers some genuine electoral reform, parliamentary reform as well as powerful ideas to transform welfare dependency. I believe that we also have to demonstrate leadership on Europe, I’d like him to promise a referendum on the Lisbon treaty irrespective of whether other countries have ratified it or not, but I could be waiting a long time for that one!
- This is the launching point for our election campaign, as activists we have been waiting for the party to outline of manifesto and he must deliver. I expect small nuggets will be dropped all week by shadow ministers and then Cameron will reveal further big policy ideas. I will tweet them all as I hear them.
- I want to hear Cameron restate not just his commitment to Progressive ideas, but also outline how we are going to pay for these progressive policies during an economic crisis. Labour has failed (#labourfail) to help the most vulnerable, so we must outline how we can step up to the job.
I am proud to be a conservative, a party that is growing and has become the only party that can fix Britain. The party depends on its members, to shape and influence its direction, therefore this week in Manchester is vital. Change depends on you, just as much as it does on the leadership. Party conference is the congress of all of our conservative views, principles and ideas and I am relishing the thought of debating and discussing these new ideas with fellow activists. Please do come up and say hello, or as Eric Pickles would say, “Hello Chums!”.