Monday, October 02, 2006

A cheering Conservative conference

Just back from Bournemouth. It's been a cheerful event.

The moment which impressed me most was in the first fringe I attended -- John Gummer's quality of life group presentation. Nick Hurd, rather nervously I thought, asked three quick questions of his audience -- had we seen Al Gore's film? (30% yes), do we believe that climate change is a serious problem? (80% yes), do we know how much carbon emission we are each responsible for in a year? (5% said they knew). Not that the answers have great intrinsic interest, but I felt, and I think that others felt too, that this was a process of discovery for us. We are told we have moved as a party, but of course this has been a personal experience for each of us -- what we are discovering at the conference is whether the rest of us have moved too.

The answer, I am very glad to realise, is that we have (by and large) moved in the same direction, and that as we all listened to Cameron in a hall packed to the rafters, we felt confident of the move that we had made.

It showed in other fringes that I attended too. John Hayes and Nick Gibb displaying their talent, commitment, energy and determination -- completely unshackled by any requirement to produce a policy rabbit out of the hat. As someone who is enthusiastically taking part in the policy review process, I am delighted to see this determination to take policy formation slowly.

Reading that back to myself, I can see that "cheerful" is a serious understatement of the mood that this conference has left me in.

Apart from waiting for a pass, and getting soaked in the rain today, the only bad moments have been running into UKIP outside and the Scientologists inside (they have for reasons which entirely baffle me been allowed a stand in the conference centre. Who next? The Moonies? ) I reacted like Mrs Tittlemouse encountering Babbitty Bumble: "this is an intrusion!'' "I will have them turned out -- '' "Buzz! Buzz! Buzzz!'' -- "I wonder who would help me?'' "Bizz, Wizz, Wizzz!'' Sadly, no Mr Jackson appeared.

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