The political conference season is upon us. Here is a guide to their timing and location.
You probably did not notice but the Greens have already had their conference in Bristol between Friday 7 September from 2:00 pm to Monday 10 September ending at 2:30 pm. They have one MP, Caroline Lucas who cut her political teeth as the sole Green County Councillor in Oxfordshire; two MEPs and they control one council – the hapless Brighton & Hove.
Similarly, the UKIP conference may pass you by. It is being held in Birmingham on Friday 21 September and Saturday 22 September. Interestingly, although it has no MPs, UKIP has 12 MEPs thanks, I am sure, to the daft PR voting system – a warning against extending it any further in the UK! It also has a sprinkling of councillors across the country although their web site bolsters the number by including a swathe of parish councillors!
Of the credible parties, the Liberals kick off the season in Brighton – their first time there since 2007. Ironically, Brighton & Hove Council is run by the madcap Greens. The Liberal conference runs from 2:20 pm on Saturday 21 September until 3:30 pm on Wednesday 26 September. I expect the Liberals to try very hard to distance themselves from their Conservative coalition partners. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the Liberal Party faithful to Clegg and to Cable. Will they scratch their beards and shuffle their sockless feet in their sandals for Clegg and clap wildly for Cable?
Next is Labour, meeting in Manchester from 2:00 pm on Sunday 30 September to 1:00 pm on Thursday 4 October. This is likely to be a confident Labour Party, doing its best to ooze a spirit of resurgence and readiness for government. They will be straining every sinew to show they are fit for the nation’s trust despite having handed over a near-bankrupt country in 2010. The only question is whether the hard left will be locked up in cupboards or otherwise persuaded to remain silent.
Then, it is the Conservatives’ turn. They are meeting in Birmingham at the International Convention Centre in the heart of the city. They start at 2:30 pm on Sunday 7 October and end with David Cameron on Wednesday 10 October around 12:30 pm. The media will be looking for rifts and leadership challengers while Party managers will be trying hard to get over the core principles that have not changed. It will not be easy.