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Tuesday....

Another early start, and some wandering around own in search of something interesting to listen to first thing. However, having got as far as the Hilton, Dizzy and I decided we could not summon the necessary level of interest in the fringe offerings and mooched our way back, pausing only to have a quick snigger at the predicament of the Woman in White outside The Imperial.

Failing to note Thatcher’s infamous bus comment of many years ago, the shuttle buses connecting the two parts of the Green Zone seem reasonably popular. I’ve stuck to walking, as all the heart attack on a plate food I have been eating has to be combated somehow.

Met up with Guido at the Winter Gardens and engaged in some low level breeze shooting. Busying myself with the Telegraph, I discovered I had a TV camera pointed out me, so I decided to feign studied nonchalance. The BBC hacks (for it was they) were delighted that when they opted to film what I was reading it was the reports on the previous day’s proceedings. Anyway, apparently I made it on to the news in ‘anonymous Tory reading Telegraph’ shocker as a bit of filler for a conference report. I have not seen it, but that was me in a yellow shirt. Dizzy, Guido and Fraser Nelson of the Spectator / News of the World were part of the same shot, which was all rather amusing, if the aim was merely to film anonymous activists. So, there you have it - Fawkes esq. on screen and not in silhouette.

Anyway, somehow I got myself roped in to doing something for the greater cause, by way of handing out pamphlets on the Rwanda expedition earlier in the year. Well, Iain Dale was speaking on that, and Andrew ‘International Development’ Mitchell wanted the further detail of the good work circulated. The main hall was packed, as it usually is, so I opted to watch Iain on the enormous plasma screen in the ballroom instead. I think he acquitted himself quite well, but the consensus seems to be that it is just silly to clap a screen except under extremis. And kudos to Bernard Jenkin who seemed happy enough to slum it by sitting on the staircase with the plebs rather than pull rank in the hall. Given that he is a naturist, I think I did quite well in resisting the temptation to say ‘oh hello, I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on’.

Come the actual dishing out of pamphlets, I did rather feel like an SWP activist, so there was some mulling on what we on the right ought to be using as our hustle: ‘trade not aid’, ‘capitalism now’ etc. However, I opted against any sloganeering, and perhaps that was why there was a mountain of the brochures left over despite the efforts of half a dozen of us. Mind you, later on someone tried ‘education for you, sir’, which I think was not intended as an insult, but did come out rather badly. Some hapless woman from Reform managed to offer me a flyer five times in the course of 10 minutes, and I fear I was a little short with her by the fifth time. Still, I suppose we all end up merging into one after a while – conference psychosis maybe?

More aimless milling etc, and thence out of the Green Zone and off for a bite to eat. One of the delights of sitting in a window seat at the Italian restaurant opposite the entrance to the conference is spotting various names and wondering what they are up to. So, why did Edward Leigh have such muddy shoes, why did John Gummer think it is worth engaging in a conversation with Mr Smoking Causes the Sea Level to Rise etc etc. Anyway, for me there was the key fringe event which was the Conservative Friends of Israel reception, while the rest of the gang seemed to fancy the idea of making trouble at the Cornerstone abortion 'debate'. I may do a full write up of the CFI bash, but it was addressed by parliamentary chairman James Arbuthnot, who was almost as sound on Israel as I am, the deputy ambassador to the Court of St James, the name of whom I missed, and William Hague. The deputy ambassador noted that since the withdrawal from Gaza, some 1,850 Qassam rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel - yes, they do keep count, as when she addressed the Lib Dem conference it was 1,826 Qassams. As the Ambassador pointed out, just how restrained would we want our government to be if 1,850 rockets had been fired at Blackpool? Hague's speech was largely a re-hash of his earlier speech to conference, but none the worse for that. He was lacking in jokes this time, but did note that CFI was the first Conservative group he joined, in 1976. Incidentally, Mike Rouse does a rather good Hague impersonation.

Not much of note in the evening, basically lots of sitting around and drinking.

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