A load of Brummie Bloggers were invited to the Tory Conference at the ICC, this week. For almost all of us it was our first taste of a Party Conference, for all of us it was a weird experience as we spent a good deal of time wondering why we were invited and why we accepted. So, what did we (or in this case I) find out?
1. Spin all you like, it’s not possible to stay on message about Birmingham:
“for one Conservative MP … the city already seems to have been hung, drawn and quartered. After the welcome drinks had started to flow he made his way through rowdy Saturday night revellers to queue at a secured hotel bar.
“I’d forgotten just how vile Birmingham is,” he commented to his colleagues surveying the drunken scene. Unfortunately most of the rest of the queue was made up of members of the press.”
This is Nottingham Blogs.
2. No one in the national press can cope with the name of the ICC (or International Convention Centre)
It was often listed as the “International Conference Centre“, at one point the ITC and, most amusingly, at one point the “Indoor Conference Centre“. It’s obviously not a memorable enough name; so we need to rename the place — Jasper Carrot Convention Centre? Joseph Chamberlain Centre? Whitby’s Bar?
3. Politics types struggle with the funny
The sort of joke that gets a giggle at a Party Conference is “at least you dress better than a Liberal Democrat” (Jeremy Wright MP at New Statesman Fringe event), which had them a rolling in the asile . Funniest thing was this cut out of David Milliband with a banana. Why it’s a joke, we don’t know, but it amused Danny Smith anyway:
4. “Frisked by the Gurkhas” never stops being amusing.
Part of the ritual of getting into the conference through the security tent (yes, I know tents don’t sound secure, but they had a lot of guns) was a good close search. The security team was make up of Gurkhas, resplendent in their regimental colours, a lot better than the partially trained-partially human security you get at most events.
5. There are people out there that will happily man a “Pro Fur Trade” stall.
6. Microsoft ‘Surface’ Tables are nice — but you can’t buy one.
Microsoft had a stall, loads of Tory types were queuing up to use the internet (like for the phone at a Uni Halls of Residence in the 80s as Podnosh says):
What you can’t see, and no-one else seemed interested in, was “one of only two Surfaces in the country”. The multi-touch coffee table is impressive, but the MS people didn’t exactly sell it by describing it as “like a big iPhone”. Doesn’t matter, as they say — you can’t buy one anyway.
7. Even MPs that blog don’t really understand blogging, at least the one we saw.
We went to a panel discussion featuring the cream of the right-wing blogosphere, Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes, Dizzy, Devils Kitchen (who all, oddly use blogger) and MP Nadine Dorries. The guys were all quite sweet in their chummy all-right-wing-lads-together way and there’s no doubt that they are successful bloggers.
But, it became obvious that Nadine didn’t really like blogging (apart from the way that it got her comments straight to the diarists of newspapers), and didn’t really do it anyway — she emails the “blogs” that are part of her “online diary” to a guy who does her website (which is shoddy with broken links everywhere).
8. Alex Hughes is a fantastic cartoonist.
Not news as such, as there’ve been great Alex Hughes cartoons on BiNS before, but as Alex (below on the right) was there sketching at events and talks and I got watch him do it live, studying speakers and producing stunning work very quickly.
9. Manchester had one big stand, Birmingham two little ones.
Manchester had a big stand just inside the conference, with almost no substance. Birmingham had one with “global city…” on it (and so, one would assume the council’s) and Marketing Birmingham had one too. Not sure what that says about the unity in the people charged with promoting our city
10. Some people are going to have to be a lot more charming to get anywhere.