Monday, February 08, 2010

What can you spell with four L's, eight D's and five Y's?

The rugby over, I deemed it safe to venture out of the hotel room, but only as far as the promised wine reception. You never know who you're going to run into, but I was delighted to meet Chris and Janet Thomas. Janet is a councillor in Swansea (Peter May's fellow ward councillor, to be precise) but of more personal relevance, they are Richard's parents.

In 2006, East Dulwich elected its first Liberal Democrat councillors, Richard being one of them, and Chris and Janet spent, I would guess, six weeks in the area, delivering leaflets, and generally being fantastic. The 650 vote majority was testimony to their hard work, and Richard, who gave up a safe seat to fight East Dulwich, has done them (and us) proud. As the then Local Party Chair, my job was to keep out of their way, deliver leaflets and generally do what I could to help them win.

We chatted away for a while, but it was soon time for the Conference Dinner. I got to sit at the top table, which was in the middle of the room (it probably makes sense as a concept), with Leader, President(s), sponsor and guest speaker.

It was a lovely dinner, with lamb for the main course (Welsh politicians probably get to eat a lot of lamb, I guess), pleasant conversation but all was set up nicely for the guest speaker, Evan (I'm not a geek, no, really I'm not) Harris. Evan was on fabulous form, with a string of gags, some cheap, some self-effacing, but all delivered with wit, warmth and a touch of irony. He also got in some serious points about science, attacking the Government and the Conservatives for their 'pick and choose' approach to evidence-based studies.

There was a raffle (and I know that this will have come as a surprise to you), and I made up for my notable lack of success the previous night, as Lembit graciously drew one of my tickets out first up. I'm looking forward to my bottle of Devolution Brew, poured with care into my special glass tankard commemorating ten years of the Welsh Assembly. My good fortune didn't end there though, as another ticket came out, allowing me to add a bottle of wine to the 'cellar'.

Oh yes, the answer to the question? Llywydd Federal y Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol or, in English, Federal President of the Liberal Democrats. Just don't ask me to pronounce it, that's all...

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