Category Archives: events

Conservative Party Conference 2009

TimAs 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 stickeralbum 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.

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Dr Samuel Johnson: 300th Anniversary of his birth this week

A17 -Samuel_Johnson_by_Joshua_ReynoldsYou know what, I doubt whether he’d even get a column in today’s newspapers. No one would dare hire him. If Dr Johnson were writing in modern Fleet Street, his views would be denounced as utterly outrageous. Foreign ambassadors would be constantly on the Today programme, demanding apologies for the insult done to their country.

Polly Toynbee would be in a state of permanent apoplexy. Any newspaper that dared to print his views would face the wrath of the Equalities Commission. It must be admitted – 300 years after the birth of one of the greatest figures of English literature – that some of his stuff can seem outré to the point of unacceptability.

He is not just sexist. He is not just xenophobic. He is a free-market, monarchy-loving advocate of the necessity of human inequality.

Listen to him bashing the Americans. “Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging.”

Ireland? Worth seeing, but not worth going to see. The French – a dirty bunch, blowing into the spouts of teapots to make them pour properly.

As for the Scots, they are mainly liars who had no cabbage until Cromwell introduced it. They subsist on horse-food, and the finest sight a Scottish person can see is the high road leading to England. Not even Simon Heffer would get away with that kind of Jock-bashing, tongue in cheek
or not.

Samuel Johnson thought the decline in the use of the cane would harm educational attainment. It wasn’t just that he was opposed to women having jobs. He thought it was a bit off for them even to paint or draw. “Public practice of any art, and staring in men’s faces, is very indelicate in a female,” he said; and as for a woman preaching, it “was like a dog walking on its hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done
at all.”

You might find some Daily Telegraph columnists who still think like that – but not in print. And no matter how odd some of us look in our picture bylines, Dr Johnson was positively bizarre.

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Stanley Johnson Quiz

Stanley is addressing the Windsor Festival on Friday 2nd October and to celebrate this occasion we are giving away a signed copy of his latest autobiographical book.  Just complete the quiz below!

 stanley-johnson3  QUIZ ON THE JOHNSON FAMILY 
 
“Meet the Johnsons”
 
1) What is Stanley Johnson’s greatest political achievement?
 
2) What was the name, nationality and occupation of Stanley’s grandfather?
 
3) When asked what was the source of the Johnson family’s sense of humour, what did Stanley reply?
a)  They all eat raw fish for breakfast.
b)  Their blond hair.
c)  Stanley was visited by aliens when he was a toddler, became a super hero and passed his gifts on to his children.
 
4) What long established tradition was Rachel Johnson responsible for abolishing when she was at Ashdown School?
 
5)  From this list of famous people: Winston Churchill, Jean Cocteau, Margaret Thatcher, Benjamin Disraeli, William Wilberforce and Pericles, select the hero of a) Stanley and b) Boris.
 
6) What sport have Stanley and Boris played together?
 
7) What famous literary award was won recently by Rachel Johnson?
 
8)  From this list of famous films, select the favourite of (a) Stanley and (b) Boris. 
Where Eagles Dare.  Born Yesterday.  Trop Belle Pour Toi.  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  Jaws.  The Bridges of Madison County.  Dirty Harry.  Chariots of Fire.
 
9)  Stanley Johnson has always firmly believed in the value of a classical education.  Could you therefore give an example of praeteritio, using Boris Johnson’s speeches on the website www.boris-johnson.com as evidence.
 
Extra points will be awarded for a clear definition of the subject, with the most apt examples.
 
10)  How did Stanley choose the name for his first born son, Boris?
 
Have a guess and look forward to hearing from you!
Answers by 30th August 2009 please to: [email protected]
 
 

Stanley Johnson Book Launch

Stanley I Presume

stanley-johnson3Boris was present at the book launch to mark the publication of his father’s autobiography (up to 40 years old) at Waterstones in Notting Hill Gate last night.  His glamorous sister, Rachel Johnson, interviewed Stanley and we were regaled with side-splittingly funny stories about the Johnson clan.  You have to read this awesome book to hear details about his population control initiative and ‘Pills Grim Progress’, his poetic prowess, solace he found in pollution control, the briefcase he lost off a landrover in a desert containing family passports and flight tickets, that was later found and handed to him with the words:  “Stanley, I presume?”, and many perfectly true and amazing stories from deep and darkest Devon.

This autobiography goes back to Boris’s grandfather, greatgrandfather and King George II.

Stanley *you rock* and now all we need is to read your sequel for 40 years + …

Available from all good bookshops and Amazon.co.uk ISBN:  987-0-00-729672-9

Boris in Any Questions, Radio 4, 20 March

Boris is taking part tonight in the Any Questions topical radio debate chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby at Kings College, London.   Regular listeners know this is usually a lively show and the line-up tonight includes not only Mayor of London Boris Johnson, but Minister of State for Employment and Minister for London Tony McNulty (educated in UK and US, former lecturer in organisational behaviour) , director of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and historian Professor Lisa Jardine and the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali.  It is on Radio 4 at 8pm  (FM only) and can be heard again tomorrow lunchtime on all Radio 4 channels at 1.10 pm.