Mark's Musings

A miscellany of thoughts and opinions from an unimportant small town politician and bit-part web developer

Conference reflections, day 2


Day 2 started with a packed tram into the conference, meaning that by the time I got in I was already feeling hot and sweaty. But I’d decided to ditch the suit and tie, as it as just too hot the previous day for formal attire, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. In any case, I think that the Conservative Party could do with fewer men in suits and more men in business casual. One of the things that gives a bad impression of the party is the battalions of members dressed as bankers or public schoolboys.

Keynote speech of the day was by George Osborne. As I tweeted at the time, the Chancellor got a bigger cheer for bashing the banks than he did for bashing Labour, and an even bigger one for bashing the Euro. Osborne isn’t as charismatic a speaker as William Hague, who delivered Sunday’s keynote, and sometimes he struggled to lift the audience. I’m also not entirely sure what he means by, on the one hand, stating (entirely correctly, in my opinion) that the solution to a debt crisis is not more debt but then later in the speech talking about ways to ease access to credit for small businesses. I’d have preferred to hear suggestions for making it easier for companies to live within their means.

Straight off from the main hall afterwards to a fringe event run by Channel 4 News, including a free lunch. In fact, by judicious selection of fringe events, it would be possible eat entirely at someone else’s expense for the duration of conference. There are some things, though, that even free food wouldn’t be enough of a bribe to sit through. Fortunately, Channel 4 News doesn’t fit that category and so I nibbled their sandwiches while Gary Gibbon interviewed Michael Gove.

The highlight of the day, though, was a “Political Pop Quiz” hosted by Feargal Sharkey on behalf of music industry lobby group UK Music. I’ve been critical of UK Music in the past for their approach to copyright (and I haven’t changed my mind as a result of this event), but I’m always up for a quiz, especially a pop quiz – and even more so a pop quiz with free beer, wine and food (see previous paragraph) so along I went.

As I was on my own, I was allocated to a team of similar singletons and we adopted the name “Billy No Mates”. I modified the team name sheet a bit to change the sponsor logo. Two MPs turned up in Metallica t-shirts. If I’d known that was the dress code, I’d have worn my Pirate Bay t-shirt.

Unfortunately, things were a bit late starting and two of our team decided they couldn’t be bothered hanging around, so by the time we actually got down to it there were only three of us. Despite that, we came a creditable 9th out of 24 teams. At least one of the teams which beat us had an unfair advantage, comprising as it did members of the media from the BBC and Channel 4 who had been to the same event at the other two party conferences previously. But it was all good fun, and, despite having a different viewpoint on the music industry’s approach to copyright and regulation, it’s hard not to like Feargal Sharkey when you meet him in the flesh.