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Free cocaine and hookers.

Training sessions for members. Canvassing, recruiting, Merlin/Bluechip, Campaigning etc etc.

Also closed sessions just for members to explain the parties strategy in key regions. A chance to engage with the "characters" that hide away in regional roles.

The Conference needs more focus on the basics of building the party. The Lib Dems do it....

It is amusing that our increase in popularity is sometimes greeted like football fans who see their team promoted resulting in increaseing numbers passing through the turnstyles. The hardcore always are wary of these Johnny come lately types.

Yet as a party we should be pleased there are more people and pleased the lobbyists and corporates turned out. The reason they are there is that they think the Conservatives will form the next Government.

Watching it on TV, to much came across as a political chatshow, with often underskilled Shadow Cabinet Members trying not to sound like gameshow hosts as they invited their sanitised guests to participate.

Corporate is one way of putting it, but the wholesale exclusion of representatives from speaking begs the question, why go? Get drunk - can't do that. Network - well join the queue to buy the candidates department a drink because if you don't you haven't a prayer. Speak on an issue you feel strongly about - not a chance.

The participatory element of grassroots political debate is now almost entirely online, which is a shame.

You're probably not going to believe this, but there is actually now a Labour Pary Press Officer named Victoria Street (who works from 39 Victoria Street). I doubt it is her though!

Definately one-day conference passes - you might see the return of "members" then, a much lamented loss described by Nadine Dorries above!

Casual clothes!!!

I went this year and - during the day - was wearing jeans and a shirt (smart/cas) - I think I was the ONLY one not in a pin-stripe!!

GBE @ 09.17

"Free cocaine and hookers."
I think I now understand the difference between "libertarian" and "libertine" Thank you for the clarification.



I think you should look at a change of venue where transport prices, food prices, hotel prices etc aren't at the top end. Not all people who help out the Tories with canvassing etc are posh with money in the bank.

I think you should have day passes etc set out at different prices considering how old you are.

I also think you said tell folk who aren't Councillors an MP that they can wear what they would normally wear. I think this will improve the image of the majority of Tax Payers who work 9-5 for about £5.50 an hour. I think this type of image will work well for people on benefits and on disability support.

Anyway that's just my opinion from a 20 year old student.

Take it back to seaside venues where the accommodation is plentiful and cheap.

Introduce day or two day passes and for members, at least, lower the prices. The way it creeps up unless you pay straight away is disgusting,

I agree that it's good to go to urban areas but the seaside resorts worked because they provided affordable accommodation. Perhaps we could alternative between Bournemouth and Birmingham?

Names and places need to be in a bigger font on every pass so that you can see who you are talking to and where they are from. Part of the deal with the conference is so that people can network, and it is really difficult if you don’t know who anyone is.

Move back to the seaside. The centre of a large city is too expensive for people to set up fringe meetings. Blackpool, Bournemouth etc, have plenty of cheapish hotels where you can hire a decent sized room or hall. If we persist in going to major cities, perhaps we need to book a small hall nearby where people can hire out small spaces and time slots. I don’t like the idea of HQ controlling the fringe, so it would have to be on the understanding that they would not interfere in any way. It is the fringe that makes conference worth coming to.

In Bournemouth, we started to do different things, including sending text messages etc. Initially I thought this to be very tacky, but I thought it actually worked. But it was dropped – a bit of a shame.

Maybe set up some meetings only for councillors where people can debate policies and find out what other councillors are doing. The only events that I attended with other councillors were mainly to drink and chat in an informal way, which is good, but it would be good to have both types of meeting.

We need more happening on the main stage, and not just more PPCs talking. I was very disappointed with the quality of most of the PPCs I saw speak – no passion, no conviction, too careful.

We should demand that the bars in the main conference hotel are properly manned and able to cope. This spoils most conferences I have been to.

The stalls at conference have been getting ever more boring. Maybe we need to make a few stalls cheaper to encourage a few more interesting stalls such as a book shop with book signings. I missed that this year.

Bigger rooms are needed for most of the fringe events. Most of those held in the ICC were in rooms that were way too small.

Pleased to help John. ;-)

I'm also pleased to see that Mr Cameron didn't criticise libertines but then they would have been having too much fun in the Rocket Club to care. :-)

What freebies were on offer as well?.

Were any cheap travel arrangeents made to and back from where folk came from or car sharing?.

What about sharing a car with an MP or a prospective MP? or trying to make arrangements with car sharing with folk travelling to the Conference near to where they live?.

When conference returns to Brum in 2010 the NIA (a 30 sec walk) should be used as the main hall - it can seat 3-4,000 all seater compared to 2,000 during the leader's speech.

The venue was brilliant and compact - nearly all the fringes were at the ICC/ Hyatt. You felt very safe late at night.

One day passes are all very fine but is it economical to have security checks for one day passes and price them affordably? As long as you are still encouraged to book it months in advance and not have the same problems with security clearance as in previous years it sounds like it could be a good idea if practical!

my 10 suggestions...

1. The arrogance (and size) of senior MPs' entourages was dreadful. A handful of people fresh out of public school and Oxbridge running round like they are the most important people on earth, pushing exhibitors, journalists and members out of the way is hardly going to endear the party to ordinary attendees. On one occasion I heard someone actually say "i work for a very important person, i do not have the time to queue"

2. more staff - at the Hyatt, at the ICC, in receptions, in bars - I had to queue for ever and in many cases this was purely because of a lack of staff and facilities

3. the bar, the bar, the bar - having been the the Hyatt many times before, i feared the worst, but despite bottle bars (that never had what you wanted) on sunday night it was one-in, one-out of the main bar; on monday i know of few members who stayed around as the place was full of lobbyists and on tuesday i only drank free booze as i was not willing to queue for 45mins. it was also horrendously expensive. this could have been solved easily

4. monday night - i walk in to the hyatt from the icc and realise that there isn't a single person in the packed out bar that i recognise and that they're all looking rather annoyed at being there. they were of course, all lobbyists being forced to attend a tory conference for the first time. no joke, one girl said to her workmates "i can't believe they've sent us here just because these f*ck*ng c*nts think they're going to win" - there was no atmosphere that night and seemingly few members - for one night, and thankfully just for one as it'll be worse next year, it wasn't a tory conference at all, it was a continuation of the labour conference

5. the hall - by 4pm on the sunday i had at least 20 people very upset that they couldn't get in to the hall - by the end of the week the hall was often empty because everyone had just given up, even with symphony hall the stewards said it was full when there were clearly many empty seats yet there were lots of people watching the speech on screens as they were told it was full - some queued for 3 hours, i walked straight in 2 mins before the speech. why not just use hall 3, which seats 3,500 (as Labour did), and curtain it off when it's not busy?

6. not enough large function rooms - receptions on the symphony hall foyers were completely inappropriate for sound, privacy etc...

7. marquees in centenary square for functions, the Rep and even possibly Reflex in the secure zone would have solved all problems listed above

8. would love to know the cost of re-printing those plan for change banners when some moron had them printed so you couldn't actually read the word change!

9. exhibitors should be given barcode scanners to register the people coming to their stands - this is common practice at proper exhibitions that don't cost as much for a stand

10. unbelievably, i couldn't pick up any details of spring forum or the sales pack for manchester - labour and the libdems have already sold most of their stands!

other than that, it worked well, and having been to manchester for the labour conference that will be outstanding

If we are going to do it at expensive city venues then we should make it a day shorter. Frankly, the hole of Wednesday was spent waiting for DC's speech. It could have been done on the Tuesday.

Can I also say that I did not think the fringe events were anywhere near as good this year. There were a few notable exceptions but even the fringe appears to have been denuded of debate.

I thought Birmingham was good overall. The ICC was modern and there were plenty of points to eat and drink with good staff. The restaurants in the city, which were all nearby, were good too.

Clearly the only 2 problems were the cost of hotels and the size of the main hall. It was noticeable that there were less ordinary members, who presumably couldn't afford it. I felt sorry for people who had to queue to get into speeches.

Overall though I thought it was a good venue and I would happily go back there.

bigger names on passes is a great idea, as is making stands cheaper.

munish - your point about the NIA is good but the oparty intentionally changed the conference hall from Hall 3 (used as the main exhibition hall) to Hall 1 just a few months ago. This shrunk the number who could attend the main 'debates' from 3,500 to 1,200-1,500. this wasn't an unforeseen accident, but an intentional move to make the hall look packed. they did a similar thing in Blackpool last year by reducing the size of the hall by putting in tiered seating, therefore the hall that held 3,500 for decades only held 1,200 for Cameron. symphony hall was far from full anyway - about half the top tier was empty, probably a few hundred seats in total.

When conference returns to Brum in 2010 the NIA (a 30 sec walk) should be used as the main hall - it can seat 3-4,000 all seater compared to 2,000 during the leader's speech.

The venue was brilliant and compact - nearly all the fringes were at the ICC/ Hyatt. You felt very safe late at night.

One day passes are all very fine but is it economical to have security checks for one day passes and price them affordably? As long as you are still encouraged to book it months in advance and not have the same problems with security clearance as in previous years it sounds like it could be a good idea if practical!

There might not have been free cocaine, but I saw plenty of snorting going on in the toilets at the Hyatt and the eateries in Brindley Place.
Birmingham conference centre had too many stairs and not enough lifts and escalators. I saw Robert Halfon (PPC, Harlow) really struggling. How on earth any disabled person made it up to and down from the footbridge over to the Hyatt is a miracle.
You'll like Manchester venue next year, but it has the same problem from which Birmingham suffers - over priced hotels. For Birmingham, the conference convention booking service wanted £100 a night for the Holiday Inn Express (and no cooked breakfast). I booked on-line direct with the hotel and was charged `just' £65 a night.
Manchester will not be so welcoming as Birmingham because of the polical make-up of the council.
Suggestions we should go back to Blackpool are laughable. It's tatty, tawdry, the B&B accomodation if downright crap and the conbference venue needs bulldozing and rebuilding. I'd alternate between Bournemouth and Newcastle, a fine city.

I understand that Hall 3 was going to be the main conference hall until 2 months prior to conference when a decision was made at the very highest level of the party, to switch halls. Apparently there were concerns that the hall would look empty on TV etc and that Hall 3 which can easily seat 3000, would be half empty.

There was a lack of atmosphere - we need more 'cosy corners' with BIG screens around cafes and BARS where people can watch the debate but also gossip with friends, drink and eat.

We actually found a cheap Hotel a 10 minute bus ride away (grotty but so are the cheap Blackpool hotels that commentators have been waxing lyrically about). This hotel had vacancies so I suspect the expectation of high prices, not neccessarily the actualite kept the old faithful away.

The other factor is that - to be crude - the 'oldies' who became active in the 50s when party membership was 10 times that it is now are dying off. They were attending till recently but are now in their late 70s and older. The newer 'oldies' who became active in the 60s and 70s, were much less numerous than this previous generation.

So in a matter of years the age range at the conference has skewed from predominently elderly to young. Then add in all the young lobbyists and you feel you are at an 18-30 convention!

As a veteran of Party Conferences since 1975, I see that this is merely an extension of a long-term trend. There used to be real debates in which real members (unscreened for "on-message-ness") were able to put in a slip during a debate and actually get called... The events used to be member focussed and interesting. For the last few years it has just been a media event, with the members as stooges brought in for applause and credibility. For many years the business on the floor has been so stage-managed and predictable that the fringe has been the only part worth attending. Very sad. When will the Party start to realise that its members are the core of the Party, and not just an occasionally embarassing and irritating accessory - to be shepherded when needed, and ignored (or these days silenced) when they complain or have views outside those imposed by the Leader's politburo. I did not attend this one, as I am no longer a member.

Dear goodness, someone please proofread Dorries' blogs. The syntax is so bad that it is often unclear what she's on about.

(Please also tell her that she does not have a photo of Winston Churchill up on her blog today. Kitchener I had always thought....)

Re conference, it was good to see better admin of the pass process this year and Cameron's speech struck exactly the right note - serious, determined, able, principled. well done DC.

It isb time to return conference to the members and activists. My main proposals are -

1. Real debates for ordinary members, not CCHQ patsies, to have their say.

2. Cut the delegate fees and premia for hotel bookings.

3. Lower fringe meeting and exhibition charges for party pressure groups.

4. Use the NIA for the main conference auditorium and exhibition area.

Half of the people that I met at conference this year were no doubt the same people that attended Labour Conference in 1996.

Is this the price that we have to pay to win?

Bring back the old days when we were Conservatives not conservatives!

The totty in the ICC and Hyatt was much better this year!

Explain why Conservatives use a Marxist list system for MEPs which deprives the electorate of the region of their right to be represented by people who they want (IE ANTI EU) - Cameron is a New World Order shill sell out. WAKE UP

I really felt that the party members were left out of the GMTV style sofa chats. However, when they got a real member of the public it was very interesting as was the case with the blacksmith on the Sunday afternoon.

I met several 'lobbyist' in bar later who had never endured conference season before. They all stated that the hall debate was more interesting and accessible than the other parties.

I agree with Tam Large about past Conferences giving the membership more opportunity to participate, and my memories go back to the 1950's. Anybody recall how the Conference shouted down Harold Macmillan and made him accept the policy of building 300,000 houses? No government has achieved it since, least of all this shower.

Sadly, we must come to terms with the fact we are no longer a mass-membership party. In the old says there was competition amongst members to get to the Conference! And, some Associations helped out with expenses for those who couldn't afford. I wondered if there was any reasonably affordable accommodation in Birmingham, or even Manchester for the Labour party. Maybe they don't want ordinary members cluttering up the place either!

"Old Hack" gave his impressions of what he saw on tv. Must admit I can't think how he came to any conclusions from that medium. The BBC conference broadcasts have been high-jacked by Andrew Neil and his vivacious assistants, presenting comment and opinion from the great and the good, and the occasional highlights of shadow ministers speeches. Little enough there to get any sort of flavour of the Conference. Time we took back control of how we are presented by the BBC. The way they produced the opinions about David Camerons speech was a complete travesty. The group of "electors" who were asked to use some sort of hand-held gizmo to show their opinions, and then comment afterwards, seemed to me to come straight out of the Labour party's central casting.

Did we make good use of the internet? And I don't mean Facebook or Bebo! If we did, we kept it awfully quiet, but, as usual, we seem afraid of new technology. Time to take a leaf of that sort out of Barack Obama's book and encourage more use of the internet, and trawl the web for new members and donations. A real mass membership is surely the best, and only way, forward. Then we might have a Conference that means someting - to the PUBLIC.

I have been told by a reliable source that the Freedom Association's fringe event will be even bigger next year in Manchester - three days and more partners in a more convenient location.

Unless the party involves the members again, I will not bother to register for the main conference. I could not stomach another three days of patronising lectures - Better Off Out of the main conference and in the TFA alternative?

All in all a fantastic conference, and Birmingham is a great venue. But a few suggestions:

1) Perhaps we could consider holding conferences over weekends - say, Friday to Monday, so that ordinary members do not have to take so much time off work.

2) The "sofa style chats" should be abandoned and replaced by real debates with real party members.

3) Also, I realise that schedules are tight, but could we work out a way of avoiding the frequent timing clashes with Jewish and other religious festivals, perhaps by making agreements with the other parties?

It was such a shame that the fringe meetings weren't staggered.There were many that I would have loved to have gone to, but could only chose one, and then afterwards there were 2 hour nothing periods! I Would have liked the opportunity to see more of the Cabinet Members at the fringe meetings also.
Far too expensive hotels,if they were much cheaper they were too far away and then the price of a taxis to come in is out of this world! Coffee and tea facilities were very slow, especially when the key meetings had finished,I waited for 45 minutes once ( not enough staff on the counters at key times and counters were often in the wrong place!
I would have liked to have asked a question,but there seemed to be professional people that seemed to get the opportunities ( business men and top councillors not ordinairy paid up members!This will stop members attending and I am in two minds whether to attend in Manchester!!

"It was such a shame that the fringe meetings weren't staggered.There were many that I would have loved to have gone to, but could only chose one, and then afterwards there were 2 hour nothing periods!"

Brockway obviously did not attend the Freedom Association's alternative conference in Austin Court. Real issues such as the BBC, climate change fraud, tax cuts and the nanny state were debated. Next year, I am informed, will be even bigger and better.

How about stopping allowing the EU to be mentioned, and no longer pretending that Parliament governs Britain?

Having been to many conferences of all parties over the past 10 years, I much prefer ANY seaside resort, even Blackpool, because the sea and the promenade serve as focal points and make the conference an auturmn seaside break with free entertainment thrown in.

Improve Conference? Simple. The rank and file have to be given the opportunity to speak as they used to. Nutjobs can be avoided by a judicious filtering of speaker slips. Surely the organisers can't be scared of each and every activist who attends but that's the impression which comes across.

Conference accreditation needs to be cheaper, simple as that. Most ordinary members who don't work within politics can't guarantee their attendance months in advance, and as such, the ridiculous incremental price increases mean they then can't afford to come. In particular, I know a vast number of young members who wanted to attend but don't have hundreds of pounds just lying around. If we really want to be a party of the people, we need to start behaving like one.

1. day passes
2. campaign events to help a nearby target ward/seat
3. more PCs with access to the Internet - still had to queue at Microsoft
4. an information stand visible near the main entrance

It was my first conference for quite a few years and I actually found it quite shocking that the normal constituency representatives have been so marginalised. Of course I sort of knew there were no debates or votes any more. But you have to experience it first hand to fully appreciate how slight the opportunity now is for rank and file participation in the main Hall. I had not appreciated that there are no floor speeches, only questions.

It used to be the one week of the year when "we", the party in the country, ruled the roost. It was run by the voluntary party for the voluntary party. It was also useful to the Cabinet/Shadow Cabinet as providing a real barometer of party opinion: I cannot see how any shadow Minister could have got the slightest idea of what the party was thinking about anything from this week.

Although Cameron did well this week and I am increasingly confident he will make a fine PM - you can't really feel it's "your" party anymore. Or indeed anyone's party apart from the front benchers and the Party officials. I knew that would be the result of the Hague "reforms" which was why I voted against them. But very sad nonetheless.

More trivially: the conference centre had little by way of a central hub where you could mill about and bump into people. I only eventually found a bar after I have been there for a full day. The hall was not only small, but very difficult to drift in and out of accordingly to what was going on: to do so usually involved asking about 30 people to get out of their seats to let you pass. I had no objection to Birmingham but would not want to be in that Hall again.

The Panel sessions were stilted - the one put together on Sunday afternoon on the economy was cringingly embarrassing at times. It included an estate agent who said the real problem in the housing market was the lack of transactions: cue funereal music for all distressed estate agents!

Although I attended some good fringe meetings - including two chaired by Tim - even most of these seemed to be run by external professionals not Party ginger groups. It takes something when the fringe meeting one feels most at home in is one given by Liberty!

On accomodation, I paid a fortune for my one night but I wanted minimum 4 star, it was very nice, and I can afford it. What I did notice when trying to find it was that the Brum City linked info to the Party website totally missed out the cheaper places that undoubtedly also existed. That is because Brum treated the conference as if it had the clientele of a commercial or public sector conference on expense accounts, not the general cross section of all economic means that the old conference used to be.

BTW did anyone use their discount voucher in the Rocket Club? As I was only there for one night I never got the chance and that is my main regret. Not attending a lapdance club - been there, done that, got the tee shirt - but attending such a place at the Tory Party conference. There would have been a certain frisson about that.

Better signage inside the conference centre would be a good start. Countless were the hours people lost trying to find the rooms were fringe meetings and parties were held.

And more freedom for people to speak in the main hall please. What are we scared of?

"And more freedom for people to speak in the main hall please. What are we scared of?

Posted by: JP Floru | October 03, 2008 at 16:33"

Cameron and CCHQ are scared of members' views on the EU and the gerrymandered selection of European Parliamentary Candidates. JP Floru got more votes than the woman above him on the London list. A selection process that would have shamed Mugabe!

Many years ago Association's used to send resolutions up to conference for debate.

It would a useful and meaningful exercise to contact each functioning Association (use the Election Commission Accounting Unit reports for a guide) and invite them to put forward resolutions which then might be published online and if there were sufficient interest, put to debate at a 1 or 2 day ConHome conference of the membership.

Ministers might be invited to respond???

CCHQ would have kittens, but may get the message about what a conference is, and is not.

Might I possibly make a few points (as a Northerner!).

1. I paid £115 per night and the room was not really any better than the £18 per night I paid last year at Blackpool. I had deliberately worked overtime to pay for my trip to the conference. For not much more I could have had a week away, somewhere warm and sunny, with the wife and kids.

2. The Bruges Group Fringe - Just prior to the event starting, we were informed that the two Conservative panellists had been "whipped" not to attend. I don't know how true this is, but they didn't attend. The packed hall suggested Europe is an issue.

3. Far too many "open" questions seem to be directed to known PPC's, many of whom, on the performances I heard, sadly don't understand the man on the street - the very people we need to persuade to vote for us.

4. Some of the younger element (certainly not all) need to learn good manners - it is rude, and always was, to chat and laugh, whilst others are listening to (fringe) debates.

5. For me, David Cameron's speech had the correct tone, and on many subjects he spoke for ordinary British people.

Other than the general price and a lack of real debates, I did enjoy Birmingham.

More signage at ICC definately needed.

Agree with general sentiment that more party members be allowed to speak - the droning on of PPCs was so boring I used it as a time to go out and blow my nose or use the toilet! Can't we let the freaks and geeks have a go? They wouldn't let me ask a question which smarted in the face of the rigged PPC questions (which I agree were generally delivered very badly - main exception being the education guy who got 2 claps and a number of chuckles).

I stayed out in the sticks and paid £40 a night. This was a rookie mistake as was tied up by last train times. I reckon next time I'll book my b n b slightly out of town again but take a bike.

Im a young activist who went on to work for an MP. I think the oldies have to realise that the professionalisation of politics means you can now be paid to do the thing you love - an opportunity too good to pass up for me. The result is lot more young party members, and thats not a bad thing. I've met a number of young people my age who live in my constituency and have joined my association because they work in politics. They very active in the Association (becoming deliverers, going canvassing, etc) so I don't have a problem with their motivation!

I've just thought of another improvement.

Delegates: when someone offers you a fringe leaflet which you don't want, the correct approach is a smile, a "no thank you" and perhaps a cheery comment.

It's bad form to ignore the leafleter as if they were offering you a dog's egg in a plastic bag. (The chances are that they're not peddling SWP literature).

With a more accessible location, day passes are a must. I know local people who would have come for a day, but declined when they saw the cost of passes.

Accommodation booking services should be directing people to holiday companies who rent apartments, not hotels, if they express concern at the cost. I paid £75/night right next to mailbox for a beautiful 1 bed apartment far better than any hotel suite - and I mean suite - a couple would pay the same, ie. £37.50/night.

With housing crisis, expect more such offers!

Our "faithful old activists" are often couples who used to perhaps stay on in Bournemouth or Blackpool for the week to take in some shows and the beach. An apartment like i had would be ideal for them.

There may be no beach in Birmingham, but Wuthering Heights was on at the Rep and the Museums are fab. Stratford on Avon is a short bus ride away as is Warwick Castle and loads of glorious countryside.

It is also not just the Party centrally who can do stuff about the cost. I'm hoping to raise some money for next year, so two people who have never been before can go for free, well, we'll put £300 in each for their passes and accommodation.

Come on, there's a CF event if ever I saw one!

HF @ 09.24

CCHQ ran Merlin training sessions all week at their stand. E-mails were sent well in advance, but there was space on most to just turn up and attend.

I agree about closed sessions, but that's what I think we should do at Spring Forum. ie. Have a forum.

Each Assoc should be able to nominate somebody to attend a forum on each policy area. They should get a brief the day before, with a shad cab/cab minister setting the ideas/policy out to the forum, who should then go off in groups and work it and worry it, coming back to give some presentations on each policy area at the end of the weekend.

An excellent opportunity to engage members and to spot talent for the future - rather than checking if the post code is K&C:-{

To be fair, external events meant that this conference probably required a degree more of being "on-message" than ususal. An element of theatre is always necessary at conferences like these.

I agree with the above on the idea for a spring forum though. While the fringe events help promote talent, they are not enough if the people at the top of the hierarchy aren't able to find out about it for themselves.

Also, more support for bloggers would be ideal. Setting aside a quiet area where we can plug our laptops in and get some wireless access (or better yet, a LAN socket) would be far preferable to the slightly ridiculous situation of having to forage for sockets.

Benjamin Gray, like other bloggers such as our Ed, would have got free and reliable wifi in The Freedom Association's Freedom Zone.

Next year, he must choose between the boring (and probably unconnected) security zone or the TFA's (connected) real conference.

I will choose the latter (as will most who enjoyed blogging, speaking or just attending Austin Court this year). Freedom works and is more fun!

The Lib dem conference was fabulous with stupendous speeches. Plenty of fudge aswell, and lots of fun!!.

"1. The arrogance (and size) of senior MPs' entourages was dreadful. A handful of people fresh out of public school and Oxbridge running round like they are the most important people on earth, pushing exhibitors, journalists and members out of the way is hardly going to endear the party to ordinary attendees. On one occasion I heard someone actually say "i work for a very important person, i do not have the time to queue""

Nothing new - and in fact it is a lot better than it used to be - I remember on one occasion being literally trampled underfoot by a herd of charging young bullocks working for a previous Leader of the Party!!!

"Plenty of fudge"

Oooooh lovely, Gloy! My favourite flavour is chocolate closely followed by rum and raisin!

"Explain why Conservatives use a Marxist list system for MEPs which deprives the electorate of the region of their right to be represented by people who they want (IE ANTI EU) - Cameron is a New World Order shill sell out. WAKE UP"

Don't be silly Don Quixote! There are plenty of Eurosceptics on the new MEP candidate list - Rupert Matthews in the East Midlands and JP Floru on my own local list (London) for a start! In addition I was heartened to see all the female candidates rising to their feet during Philip Bushill-Matthews' speech so they could be identified as the Number 3's in each Region. They will all be first-class additions to the Delegation next June.

"Training sessions for members. Canvassing, recruiting, Merlin/Bluechip, Campaigning etc etc."

Not a bad idea HF though as someone has already mentioned, there was a stand running sessions on MERLIN. Actually the fact that you didn't notice that has shot to pieces my theory as to who you (HF) are as I was walking around some of the time with one of the people I thought might be the owner of your pseudonym and we discussed possibly attending one of the MERLIN sessions...!

Conference was simply fab but here are some suggestions to improve upon:

1. Venue -

Information desk or screen and good signs - updated information on changes to conference agenda or on speakers;

Larger main hall or BIG SCREENS for overflow near eating areas and bars;

More coffee/tea points or vending machines (to avoid queues during a short break);

Improving disabled access.

2. A cheaper day pass;

3. Exhibitor discounts for organisations part of the wide Conservative movement;

4. Contribute Now/Stand Up Speak Up - need to include ordinary activists and policy experts for (a) greater inclusion and depth; and (b) bringing experts into the party's policy fold and being able to spot new ideas. I admit it is a forum to raise important issues in your constituency BUT we should then consider filming/televising key fringe events to soak up some of the demand to speak in the main hall. 

The contribution form should have a section on "why you want to contribute" to enable the organisers to spot excellent contributions;

5. Return to the seaside (at least on alternate years) - the accommodation prices deterred many from attending. The activists of old provide the backbone to any association and let's not forget, remember being in Government - candidates like me can learn a great deal;

6. Accommodate the growing blogsphere - a larger internet/computer area (perhaps with a drinks machine nearby) or free wi-fi;

7. Social networking - use new media to form groups for Councillors, campaigners on certain issues, etc. to begin networking before the conference. Publicise meetings arranged during conference. We need places certain people can congregate;

8. In the name of inclusion, a forum for activists to record their thoughts on Conference - this time we had the Party's Vox Box and the You Tube stand. 

"the hall - by 4pm on the sunday i had at least 20 people very upset that they couldn't get in to the hall"

I agree that there were problems, particularly in the first day or two of the Conference, with people being able to get into the hall. There was also one fringe meeting (Conservatives in the European Parliament) where a large number of very annoyed people were not able to get in as due to Health & Safety regulations (!) only 20 standing audience were allowed. I had managed to get a seat (and in fact was enjoying a very pleasant chat with Mrs Bushill-Matthews) but opted to leave the meeting so that somebody else could come in.

I was lucky. I stayed with a friend who has a flat off New Street, ten minutes walk away from the ICC; otherwise I don't think I would have gone as the hotels were far too expensive.

I was hardly in the main hall. The 'debates' were - quite frankly - boring. I heard William Hague and Boris Johnson speak on Sunday and then Michael Gove on Tuesday, but that was it. I spent much of my time in the Freedom Zone. There was plenty of debate and free food and tea/coffee. It was an altogether more pleasant atmosphere.

As far as fringe events are concerned in the green area; some were very good, but there was times when I looked at page after page and still couldn't find anything I wanted to attend. I watched Cameron's speech on a TV in the ICC. I couldn't be bothered to queue for 2/3 hours.

The only way more people are going to attend the main debates are if they become debates again. Members want their views heard and we also want to hear the views of other members. Alas, I fear those days will never return.

Birmingham was a fine place though. The locals were very friendly and welcoming.

I agree with Tim that free WiFi should have been provided. This should be standard fare just like running water is.

Agree with Gareth Knight re. the Hall and stewards telling delegates the hall was full when there were many free seats still available (better communication between stewards is needed). The Symphony Hall also had a couple of hundred seats free during DC's speech but were not used because the ICC announcers told delegates the hall was full 1.5hrs before they allowed people to enter.

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