Opinion: Catching the Liberal Democrat conference bug

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When I first decided to go to Liberal Democrat Conference last autumn, I have to admit I was a little swayed by it being in my home town, but being a Federal Conference First Timer I did have concerns about not knowing anyone. Luckily, a friend who is also a conference veteran (at both LibDem and Labour I must add) took me under his wing and even humored me when going to training sessions.

I also met up with some people in both Liverpool and Glasgow and managed to bend their ears about issues, as well as adding new and interesting people to Facebook. I attended some very interesting training session – including the very exciting software program used by the Obama Campaign CONNECT and an informative session on getting selected and time management with Liverpool’s own Erica Kemp. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I hoped in the main hall, but glad I took up the opportunity to use the training available. I also managed to go to a session run by ALDC with Tim Farron and Paddy Ashdown on the panel.

I found that the Conference was well run and am proud of the way Birmingham handled itself. I had heard of problems and even violence against Conference attendees when it was in Sheffield, but quickly felt at ease outside the main venues.

I did have a very interesting conversation after hijacking a lost lobbyist on the way to New Street Station on my way home to Liverpool. When I asked why he was at conference, he said he was talking to MPs and policy makers on landmines. You have to wonder if he would have been doing this at one of our conferences a few years ago. He also said he was probably more likely to vote for Nick Clegg after hearing him speak and do a Q&A.

It sounds like a cliche I know, but I am definitely fired up for Conference in Newcastle in 2012, and have already booked my accommodation. For anyone debating about whether to attend, do it. It is an amazing feeling to be part of the decision process, in a way only Liberal Democrat conference representatives are.

In one of the training sessions, we were asked to talk about any hobbies we had. I did comment that with work and politics, I don’t have any time for hobbies, and it was said that if you are doing politics properly, that is the way it should be!

I definitely have the conference bug!

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This entry was posted in Conference and Op-eds.
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2 Comments

  • Karen Wilkinson 25th Sep '11 - 11:07am

    Nothing like a Conference to get you hooked is there? I reckon every member should get one free Conference – starting with the longest standing members who’ve never been.

  • Jennie Rigg 26th Sep '11 - 2:06pm

    Karen, there is a massive discount for first timers, and you can also volunteer as a steward and get in for free. I did stewarding my first year, and found it wasn’t for me, but ALL the stewards still always smile and say hello every time they see me. That’s the kind of family atmos there is.

    You’re right though, everyone should go at least once.

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