NB: retrospectively posted to try and make things less confusing. Yeah, I know I said I’d blog every day, but I’ve been sleepy in the evenings.
So, today was the beginning of Conference! …well, actually it wasn’t, but it was the first day I’d taken off work for conference-related reasons, the first day I got to look at the conference venues, and the first time I’d EVER been in the Midland Hotel, so for me it was the same 🙂
We all got through security OK – not that I was expecting to be stopped or anything, but there’s something about people holding MASSIVE GUNS (the police, not Group4) that makes me nervous. I turned out to be assigned to a different stewarding group to all of my friends – Disability Support – but my team leader, Amanda, I recognised from a Women In Politics event I went to a couple of weeks ago, and when we introduced ourselves it turned out she was actually a member of Gorton CLP too.
Disability Support obviously means assisting anyone at conference who has mobility problems, and apparently it’s mostly an easy job, especially at the super-accessible Manchester Central. Apparently the only exceptions are a) during the Leader’s speech, when part of our job is to fast-track disabled people to the front and b) if anything goes wrong, like at Spring Conference in Birmingham earlier this year when someone had a seizure.
We had a tour of the conference site – including the toilet area for David Blunkett’s dog! – and then hastened to the Radisson where Gordon Brown was due to arrive. As expected we had to wait opposite the patient press for over an hour, during which we chatted with Harriet Harman. “Careful what you say,” she warned: “some of those microphones can pick things up from a surprising distance. We don’t want a ‘yo, Blair’ moment. Being in the Labour Party is marvellous,” she added, enunciating carefully for the benefit of said mikes. She also introduced us to Ray Collins, the new General Secretary. Apparently he was only seventeen years old the very first time he attended Conference, and wanted to know if any of us happened to be the same age; unfortunately none of us were, although we pointed out Jenny O’Mahony, another Yorkie, who only joined the Party a few months ago.
I’d just realised that we were live on Sky News when Gordon arrived with smiles all round, handshakes for everyone within reach, and a comment on the lovely weather. So far, so sunny 🙂