Monday, February 28, 2011

London Conference

Saturday saw the London Conservative conference, kindly hosted at Hammersmith Town Hall. Left wing bloggers billed it as a 'secret gathering' and promised a large demonstration - but as it started early on a Saturday morning and it was pouring with rain very few people turned up to man the picket lines - I guess the revolution will have to wait.

Inside a packed hall, we were addressed by Boris who outlined his achievements and his plans to seek a second term. He takes his opponent seriously, describing Ken as a 'seasoned campaigner - more than seasoned, marinated perhaps or even embalmed.' He took some good natured questions and our own Cllr Nick Hayes made the best of the opportunity to seek assurances that the overground improvements which form part of Crossrail would still take place. Boris pointed out that Network Rail were responsible for the stations in Redbridge and Havering, and that he would lobby them to ensure the essential improvements were made.

Lynton Crosby spoke to us about the campaign, revealing all the secret details which I won't repeat here. Then we had sessions on the No To AV campaign and the upcoming boundary review which will see London lose several Parliamentary seats.

Then we were addressed by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, who talked about his support for Crossrail and his commitment to transport in London. Governments always face pressure from Scottish and Northern MPs to cut London's funding so it is reassuring to have the Minister on our side. He acknowledged that he faces a fight over high speed rail but is determined to press ahead with it as the only viable alternative to airport expansion in the south east.

We broke for lunch with our MEPs, providing them with an opportunity to talk about their work and face the tough grilling that this subject always attracts at party meetings.

Then it was on with the afternoon, and a session on local government chaired by Wandsworth Leader Edward Lister and featuring a star panel - including myself. I spoke about how proportional voting had twisted London Assembly politics, giving Lib Dems and Greens far more power than they merited, and talked about the sometimes tense relationship between my team and the Mayor's office. We also had a good discussion about cutting waste, sharing services and improving procurement to get a better deal for taxpayers.

With that session completed it was time to slip away. I had to miss the final session with London's new MPs because I was off to the Havering Mayor's fund raising evening. A very exciting boxing match and dinner hosted at the Prince Regent Hotel in Chigwell. There was just time for me to get home and change for the event.

A productive Saturday with plenty of jabs and crosses hitting the target!


Mrs Angry said...

I am impressed, Roger: who were you in the ring with? Are you sporting two black eyes? I am sure we can all think of a GLA member we would like you to take on next ...

Redbridge resident said...

The Prince Regent Hotel may have pretensions to be in Chigwell, but is actually in Woodford Bridge - part of your own constituency, Mr Evans.