I attend more Party Conferences than most, Regional, State and Federal, and it's that time of year when the use of the phrase, "I'd like to move/thank/condemn..." is most uttered. And so it should have come as no surprise when I turned up in Newbury yesterday morning for a brief visit to the South Central Regional Conference, my first such event of the spring (one down, five to go).
Every Conference is slightly different, with a slightly different atmosphere, but South Central's is one I've seen more of than most, having been the Region's European Returning Officer on three occasions. Whilst my favourite was one in Alton (free beer and doughnuts), the most nerve-wracking one was the 2007 Autumn Conference at yesterday's venue, the Park House School in Newbury, where I got to chair the first of the Clegg/Huhne hustings.
Unfortunately, time didn't permit a very long stay, although it was long enough to get signed up by the Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists (ALDES) - my degree in Mathematics qualifies me, I guess - catch up with some of the candidates whom I've worked with in recent European selections, chat with Steve Sollitt, the Regional Chair about life in a Regional Party, and say hello to Paul Walter, who didn't recognise me without my zorb (an easy mistake to make). A huge thank you must go to Zoe Patrick, our Group Leader on Oxfordshire County Council, and Leader of the Opposition, for giving me drugs for my headache (paracetamol, before any Conservative gets terribly excited...).
And then, as though it had never been, it was time to leave. An entire State awaited...