Cheering into the void
It was a good idea to have Andrea Jenkyns, conqueror of Ed Balls in Morley and Outwood, as the warm-up act for George Osborne. The thought of the decline and fall of Balls produced one of the loudest cheers of the day. But the Manchester auditorium has a serious drawback: it is impossible to cheer someone to the echo, because there is no echo. The building, which is a former railway station, is too rigid yet insubstantial to reverberate. Applause soaks away into desolate voids hidden behind black curtains. This makes life less exhilarating for both speaker and audience.
Osborne gave a good speech. He reminded me of a schoolmaster who has decided to unbend a bit in front of the class, but is still insistent that everyone should do their homework. It gave him great pleasure to announce the recruitment of a new star pupil, Andrew Adonis. The lady next to me, who was from Fylde on the Lancashire coast, clapped Osborne with enthusiasm, and said: “He’s come on in leaps and bounds since he first came in. He was really not a personable chap.”
Animation was provided by the demonstrators outside the conference area, whose cries of rage were clearly audible inside the ConHome marquee. A member of the audience who was from rural Devon became annoyed by this. She urged that the conference be held “somewhere there isn’t any public transport, so the rabble outside can’t get to it”. But this column believes that being rude to men in suits is an ancient British liberty.
Back to Black(pool)
Will we ever get back to Blackpool? The gale off the Irish Sea as one strides from the Winter Gardens to the Imperial Hotel refreshes the most jaded head. The trams are sublime. The cheap hotels cost a fraction of the price of a night in Manchester, so it is possible for members of quite modest means to enjoy a few days at the seaside. And it was in Blackpool that David Cameron won the leadership by giving the best speech. Let us go back there in whichever year he steps down.