I have had a more relaxed morning today. Conference can get a bit intense at times. So I strolled through the park that runs through Bournemouth to a little cafe for breakfast. Bournemouth is a great place; it has elements of a European city with its open spaces and some of its art deco buildings, a little like Barcelona on some ways, then it has the elegance of a Victorian city and sea side town. I took a walk along the shoreline, the firm wet line of sand right by the water. Bournemouth has some of the best beaches in Britain.
I then made a proper visit to the Exhibition so I could talk to some of the exhibitors. I had an interesting debate at the ‘Friends of Israel’ stand (which for various reasons is not next to the ‘Friends of Palestine’), spoke to the Federation of Small Businesses about our town centres, used the cashpoint at the Post Office stand (which for the Lib-Dem conference at least was still open and I wondered whether it would remain open for the whole of the Labour conference), chatted to printers, the Countryside Alliance (which are not all about fox hunting) and a whole host of others.
My first true event of the day was with the, Institute of Directors where Vince Cable spoke about the future of the economy. Vince spoke about bonus payments in the financial industry, liberal regulation in the market to provide institutions people can trust and who would provide a stable financial environment. The speaker from the IoD gave a constructive and favourable response to our policies. He stressed that it was important that Britain remained competitive.
A very long walk up the hill for an interesting training session.
I needed a sandwich at this point and so went into a coffee shop and while I ate read a copy of the Daily Mail. At the conference its so easy to be in a bit of a bubble, so I was reassured to read that; Britain is officially the most crowded place in Europe, there are paedophiles round every corner and three teenagers have been stabbed 666 times and eaten by Russian Satanists.
Tonight I am having dinner with some people from the region, not sure who yet, I am filling a place that has become free, and then it is the glee club!
OK, I will tell you about the glee club. You would not believe it unless you had seen it.
It is basically the end of conference party, with a tradition that goes right back to who knows when, Gladstone probably! (now there is a thought). The party faithful gather for a few drinks and to sing songs ancient and modern ranging from hymns on land reform, Jerusalem and more recent irreverent versions of catchy tunes celebrating the exploits of former leaders. These are accompanied by John Hemming MP on Piano and an assortment of turns by heroic campaign teams from by elections past. It is something to be witnessed I can tell you! Last year Paddy Ashdown told the longest and eventually pointless shaggy dog story. I wonder if Nick will do a turn this year, I hope so.