Friday, 9 October 2009

It ain't all fun at the seaside

OK chaps, now listen up. Do you get excited about political party conferences? In my never ending mission to reveal the wonderful world of politics, here’s a quick round up of what went on when the lovely Lib Dems descended on Bournemouth Conference Centre to save the world. Team Opik was there…
DO you think our rail service is crap? I do. And it’s expensive too. That’s why I helped my chum, Linda “Wacko” Jack try to convince the 2,500 conference delegates to make renationalisation of the railways a Lib Dem party policy. Wacko Jacko reckons the trains and tracks should be owned by the country – not by the private companies who have us paying silly money to stand around waiting on platforms, listening to some robot announcer apologise for signal failures, broken down trains and leaves on the line. That’s why Jacko and I were campaigning for re-nationalisation. At the last minute, the final speaker managed to turn the debate around and the delegates voted by a narrow margin NOT to take up our idea. Never mind. At least we gave it a good whirl. Sadly, it means that we’ll carry on getting fleeced for a ticketing fortune, while waiting for the delayed train to wherever. It’s the greatest train robbery since Ronnie Biggs.
ON Tuesday, there was a long argument about whether nuclear power is a good or bad thing. As the oil runs out and coal continues to mess up the planet, I can’t see how we’ll keep the lights from going out without nuclear. But others disagree. They believe wind farms, solar power and all the other renewables will meet our needs— even though it would probably take a solar panel the size of Wales just to keep our TVs on! It always amazes me how many different points of view there can be in one party, evenwhen the evidence seems (to me) clear cut. In the end the Lib Dems voted to remain opposed to nuclear. Fair enough, you’ve got to listen to the party members. But if we DO have an energy shortage as a result, I just hope the anti-nukes will have the decency to take to their exercise bikes, connect them up to the national grid, and start pedalling.
OUTSIDE the main debates, it’s a circus of activity. Two-hundred groups ranging from the National Farmers Union to the Friends of Pakistan hosted their own discussions, events and meetings. I spent a good chunk of the conference at these fringe events, talking about issues like HIV testing and the problems of the fox hunting ban. Then there were the meetings with groups like the Motor Neurone Disease Association to check out how I can help their work. But it’s not all blabber and jabber. The good folks at the Entertainment Leisure and Software Publishers Association brought along a Nintendo Wii for MPs to have a go on. I managed to “jump” 133 metres on their virtual ski slope, which, apparently, was quite good. Meanwhile, the RSPCA hosted an excellent curry night. Although I’ve had my differences with them as an organisation, they’re nice people and serve up a great cruelty free korma! I think that, next year, the Daily Sport should have a fringe meeting to promote the Sporting way of life. If it was attended by the gorgeous Cassie Truman , some activists would go mental and say it’s terrible—but I bet the meeting would be packed!
WANT to hear about what goes on at conference “after hours”. Well after a hard day’s work we had a lot of fun! I reckon that the best teams in any walk of life are the ones that get on at a personal level so a bit of socialising goes a long way. And, before you ask, NONE of the conference partying was subsidised by the taxpayer. The day’s work generally wrapped up around 10pm and then folk started heading to the bars. There’s a lot of general merrymaking—in fact, I hear that Lib Dems consume more units of booze at our conference than any other party! I’m not sure if that’s quite true but if so it just goes to show our dedicated support for the beer industry. A few delegates jumped in the sea in their clothes, arriving back in the bar covered in sand and looking like the Creature From The Black Lagoon. Others “found romance”. Others took partying to an obsessive extreme. I observed two merrymakers finishing their lagers…as people came down for breakfast. Overall, the Lib Dems conference went reasonably well, with no knockout blows for or against it. Next week it’s Labour – I’ll give you a full report on Friday. Don’t miss it, mateys!

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