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Sunday with the Tories

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LGC's political editor begins his blogs from the Conservative Party Conference on the opening day.

The first impressions of the Conservative Party conference are one of unsuitability. For a start, the Birmingham International Conference Centre appears far too small.

The party is operating a ‘one-in, one-out’ policy for the main hall. A staple of Birmingham’s nightclubs, this device for creating the spectacle of oversubscription has clearly found its way to the political scene.

So for Boris Johnson’s address - the highlight of the first day - large queues of irritated delegates (the irritation never quite boils over into anger) are turned away by stony faced officials.

Instead, they are ushered towards the ‘Hall 5 cinema’ to watch the proceedings on the big screen. And here’s the second problem. You see, the ICC doesn’t occupy a huge amount of floor space.

Consequently the halls have been made fairly steep in order to squeeze the seats in.

Cue the spectacle of many of the older delegates - having been turned away at the main door - forced to gingerly abseil their way down towards what available seats are left in the ‘cinema’ before hoisting themselves back up for another crack at getting past the bouncers.

Not that it dims their enthusiasm. The crowd still applaud wildly as first William Hague and then David Cameron rally the crowd next door. And by the time London mayor Boris Johnson departs the stage, the proxy audience is in hysterics.

Later at one evening fringe event, Ferdinand Mount, ex-editor of the Times Literary Supplement and Times , Telegraph and Spectator columnist gave a wide ranging lecture on localism.

Amidst the praise for local government and enthusiasm for direct democracy was just the tiniest mea culpa. In one of his former guises as the head of Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit, he played a leading role in the introduction of council tax capping.

Having walked had the privilege of walking straight in without queuing, the audience are willing to forgive him anything.

See also

Frozen smiles on tax

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