If the last party conference you attended was in rain swept Blackpool or Bournemouth then prepare for some changes. Not only have late nights in Yates’s Wine Lodge been replaced by Cherri V, Key 103 and Roller Disco at Party For Change (Manchester's old Printworks Wednesday 7 October, 21.30 to 03.30.) but a cup of tea with old (and I mean old) YCs in the conference hotel is a doomed ambition. The lobbyists have taken up residence and occupy all the comfy chairs from breakfast through to close of play seeing an endless succession of Conservatives in power or aiming shortly to be.
You might have been used to fringe meetings attended only by activists where speakers and questioners could risk flying policy kites safe in the knowledge that no one in the media cared or was likely to report anything you said – Boris always excepted.
That too has changed. Guardian reporters will be lurking in corners of private, invitation-only events so don’t expect any off-the-cuff policy announcement or anything else that hasn’t been crafted and cleared in advance.
Some will regret the passing of old-style conferences but talking to yourself year after year gets you down in the end. It won’t be family but it will be brilliantly organised, the centre of the universe and the only place to be next week.
So, what are the must attend events specifically for councillors?
CCA/TESCO CHAMPAGNE RECEPTION: Wednesday 7th October from 9.30 – 11.30pm – Alexandra A, Midland Hotel with Eric Pickles MP and a host of Shadow Cabinet members. Tickets (£10) available from the CCA stand at Party Conference.
CCA/CPON are holding a Winning your Local By-election Session with Alan Mabbutt (CCA Head of Local Government) and Kerry Buist (CCA Local Government By-election Campaigner). Wednesday 7th October 12.45 – 1.45pm at Manchester Central in Exchange Room 1.
Sadly, the private political session with the whole Shadow Local Government team sold out long ago and has a lengthy waiting list.
ConHome's conference programme is here.