I’m currently in Birmingham, having attended a few meetings on Friday, and flying back up to Edinburgh tonnight. I’m not staying for the party conference, but I do want to make one observation. The area around the ICC in Birmingham, where the Conservative Party are holding their conference, is awash with police every 10 yards, barriers at every junction, and generally making this party of the city a bit of a headache for locals.
Irrespective of who is paying for the policing and associated paraphernalia (I seem to recall Labour’s Conference this year cost around £5 million in policing, does anyone have concrete numbers?) it seems to be a rather large waste of money to get (a) all the party in one place and (b) get some pretty pictures for the television. For parties that are hoping to spend our money, wouldn’t it be nice if they thought out the box and did it a little differently?
With all the military bases in the country either mothballed or half-empty as troops are in foreign theatres, why not hold the conferences in these establishments? A number of them are close to good transport links, there’s clearly enough accommodation for all the attendees, the various Mess Halls can handle catering and evening entertainment, and the policing/security should be much reduced. Disruption to residents would be minimal, and both (a) and (b) above would still happen. In fact I doubt those on TV would really notice the difference.
And there’s something nice about the image of having everyone behind barbed wire…