Ch_exc "This afternoon I will be in Birmingham.  I’m the Shadow Minister for Wolverhampton, so I’m in the West Midlands at least once a month.  This time, though, there’s a difference.  This time I’m taking the whole Party with me.  I’m on my way to Birmingham’s International Convention Centre to announce that this is where we’ll hold our Party Conference in 2008 and 2010.

Many of you reading this have probably already heard, but such is life in the blogosphere.  Still, I think people are really enthusiastic about this decision

It’s a decision which really reflects where we’re going as a Party.  Not only have we had a change in direction, but we’ve had a change in attitude.  Together with the creation of Campaign North and the appointment of Michael Bates as Deputy Chairman (North), we’re gradually shifting the perception that we’re a party of the south.

I wanted to do this for some time. One of my first decisions after last election was to take Spring Forum last year to Manchester. Taking our party to the heart of Britain’s great cities is good for the cities and is good for us.

Francismaude_1I’m really looking forward to the conferences this year and next.  We’ve got a good organising team in place and a new event management company on board.  I have the feeling that the next couple of years will be among the best we’ve ever had.

Over the last year or so, it’s been interesting to see people’s responses to the changes which we’re making to the Party.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in 2007 and reading your views on this decision."