5 Oct 2010

Reflections on Birmingham

What a facinating event this year’s Conservative Conference in Birmingham is.

Search as I may, I can find no trace of the word Conservative on any of the hoardings in the main conference hall. Until – when I ascend to the balcony – I spot it on the floor of the stage…heavily walked over by the day’s speakers.

Is there a message here? Is there a further message in the strange bleaching of the once vivid Thatcher cobalt blue? Is it the impact of Coalition?

Then there’s the once green tree that stands behind the debating area..now a strange thing looking a bit like a Unionist map of Northern Ireland…and the green now racing off in parallel lines stage right.

The delegates are sanguine…less tribal, apparently at peace with their liaison with a force they once regarded as some kind of electoral yellow peril.

It’s an unusually festive – almost jolly – event. The gloomiest faces belong to the media and MPs – alike in line for their cut in Child Benefit.

And Birmingham has risen to the occasion too…efficient security, well mannered ushers and security staff. The menace of the car which so blighted the city centre of yesteryear is gone – instead there’s a predominance of pedestrian streets.

I walked a mile from the conference centre, uninterrupted by the internal combustion engine, in order to get the battery in my watch replaced. A brilliant depot called the Watch Hospital did it in a trice.

By the way, now that the British Waterways quango is to go, who will sustain the magnificent canal system here?

I shall board the train to Euston after Channel 4 News tonight with mixed feelings.…relief to be going home, sorry to be leaving something altogether anthropologically intriguing behind.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4