I predicted previously that the media would report on a different conference to our own despite journalists attending in record numbers. What news coverage I saw suggests the party was in uproar over the coalition. My experience is that the vast majority of members attending conference were pleased with the fact we are now in government. That's not to say all members like the Coalition, but more about that on a different post.
Two significant physical features jumped out immediately as marking a change with the past. It was vastly bigger than any previous Lib Dem conference. And on arrival, I felt like I was coming into an airport terminal - security officers and scanning machines everywhere. I have been an observer at both Tory and Labour conferences in the past so I have experienced the same sort of security at conferences already. Nevertheless, it is a rather sad reflection on the state of where the country and national security is when party political conferences are under such a state of siege.
That said, where were the armies of protesting trade unionists? Saturday saw what could only be described as school leavers wearing Unite trade union jackets ranting at us, in rather middle class tones, as we went through the main gates that "You are all Tories." As far as being constructive, persuasive debate, it wasn't. They were rather small in numbers and no one was taking much of an interest in them. They may have felt a warm glow in themselves as they had had a good shout at Lib Dems, but they achieved absolutely nothing other than to become the butt of a few conference jokes. I was tempted to ask them whether they planned to wreck anyone else's holiday (Unite is of course the union that has brought out the BA workers) but then decided I couldn't be bothered and went for a cup of tea instead.
The only other protesters we saw were a handful of Communications Workers Union members handing out leaflets opposing plans to save the Royal Mail from collapse. Their demonstration was disappointingly tiny.
My time at conference was spent mainly on taking photos and video. I have somewhere in the region of 2000 pics and 6 hours of tape to sort. Greg Stone from Newcastle, and I have filmed a video programme for members about conference. It will take some time before it's all edited but it should be on YouTube soon. We have interviews with Vince Cable and Chris Huhne as well as a number of ordinary members.
So, end of conference and I am now heading home to catch up with sleep and the rest of my life.
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