The political conference season is upon us. Here is a guide to their timing and location.
You probably did not notice nor care but the Greens have already had their conference in Bristol between Friday 7 September from 2:00 pm to Monday 10 September ending at 2:30 pm. They have one MP, Caroline Lucas who started out as the sole Green County Councillor in Oxfordshire; two MEPs and they control one council – the hapless Brighton and Hove.
Similarly, the UKIP conference may have passed you by. It was held in Birmingham on Friday 21 September and Saturday 22 September. Interestingly, although it has no MPs, UKIP has 12 MEPs thanks, I am sure, to the ridiculous PR voting system – a big warning against extending it any further in the UK! It also has a sprinkling of councillors across the country although their web site bolsters the number by including parish councillors!
The first of the parties, rather than pressure groups, the Liberals kicked off the season in Brighton – their first time there since 2007. Ironically, Brighton and Hove Council is run by the slightly barmy Greens. The Liberal conference ran from 2:20 pm on Saturday 21 September until 3:30 pm on Wednesday 26 September. The Liberals tried very hard to distance themselves from their Conservative coalition partners. Saying sorry was very much on the agenda. Not sure if it was sorry for failed promises or for making the promises in the first place. Clegg did his best but trying to lead the Lib Dems is a challenge for anyone let alone a discredited leader who can no longer be trusted. I’m told the smell of open toed sandals and peanuts was overwhelming.
Next is Labour, meeting in Manchester from 2:00 pm on Sunday 30 September to 1:00 pm on Thursday 4 October. This is likely to be a Labour Party, doing its best to appear confident suggesting a resurgence and readiness for government. They will be straining every sinew to show they are fit for the nation’s trust despite having handed over a near-bankrupt country in 2010. The only question is whether the hard left will be locked up in cupboards or otherwise persuaded to remain silent. I think we all know how bad it can get with a Labour government. Lets hope everyone remembers.
Then, it is the Conservatives’ turn. They are meeting in Birmingham at the International Convention Centre in the heart of the city. They start at 2:30 pm on Sunday 7 October and end with David Cameron on Wednesday 10 October around 12:30 pm. The media will be looking for difficulties and any sign of moving away from a debt reduction strategy. Everyone will be trying hard to get over the core principles that have not changed. It will not be easy, it never is when you are in power.