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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Victoria Araj's Conference Diary
The main political parties have been on a drive to attract younger voters. So BBC News decided to send three young people to the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative party gatherings.

Below, Victoria Araj, who travelled to Bournemouth for the Conservative Party, describes some of her time with delegates.


I arrived in Bournemouth and all around me was blue. Blue skies, blue sea and of course, a blue conference.

Bournemouth seafront
Blue skies, blue sea and the blue conference in Bournemouth

I rushed to the accreditation building thinking I should have packed my rucksack, portable paraffin stove and a sleeping bag.

I need not have worried as I had my conference pass in my hand within five minutes. Eat your heart out Huw Edwards.

So to a speech about the future of Britain's security, "The Future of Britain's Nuclear Deterrent" with Dr Liam Fox.

The session seemed to go against the general aim of the conference - that of "a new direction" - as delegates discussed Cold War politics and the idea that Russia could again be a threat to the West.

We sipped a crisp dry white as delegates plotted a potential nuclear winter. Suddenly everybody jumped!

Had World War III just started? Had an errant nuke landed on Bournemouth? No, the waiter behind us had dropped a large metal tray on the hard floor.

Crowd celebrated

Walking around the stands I tried to find something which would appeal to a younger generation.

The Countryside Alliance, Conservative Friends of Israel, The Carlton Club... all not very appealing to me.

I was pleased to bump into Oliver Letwin, who seemed very positive.

Asked about his thoughts of the conference, he mentioned, not policy.

IN PICTURES
Victoria with Liam Fox MP
I sipped a crisp white as Dr Liam Fox talked about nuclear missiles

Then to the main conference hotel and into a white marquee, with bad finger food and a crowd of old people looking very depressed.

Nope, not a funeral but the Observer interview, "Andrew Rawnsley meets William Hague".

The mood rapidly lifted when the shadow foreign secretary walked on. The crowd celebrated his presence with adoration, like proud grandparents at a graduation.

I met someone who introduced themselves as Fawthrop For Mayor, a few failed councillors and some lady from the WI.

Tory disco

I also saw The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh and we ended up having a rather long and interesting chat.

Don't get me wrong - I would probably disagree with just about everything his paper stands for, but it was nice to find someone who was genuinely interested in what I was up to and what I had to say.

Then he strolled off for a dinner.

Shortly afterwards I bumped into George Osborne who said he had absolutely no time to talk because he was rushing off to dinner.

It was good to see the Tories listening to the lobbyists
Yes, we knew. It was supper with Trevor Kavanagh and his colleagues.

So I couldn't resist. "If you see Mr Kavanagh tell him 'Victoria says she really enjoyed our little chat earlier...'".

It was funny to see him look back and not really know what to say...

A short time later I saw Alan Duncan who was cheery, charming and more than happy to have his photo taken with me.

I thought, as I'm sure many do, he seems to be too nice to be a member of the "nasty party".

We ended Tuesday evening at the "Absolutely Equal" party which was, I have to say, the most interesting night out I've probably ever had.

I spotted Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality at the party hosted by a gay rights group at a Tory Conference!

Tory conference disco
The Tory faithul throw shapes on the dancefloor on Tuesday night

It was like Eastbourne meets Soho on a Saturday night.

Tory boys and their mums letting their hair down to celebrate a 1% lead in the polls, bopping to Kylie Minogue and the YMCA.

On Wednesday morning The Refugee Council kindly invited me to their breakfast with Damian Green, the shadow immigration secretary.

It was a positive affair with people who genuinely care about the welfare of the most vunerable in our society.

It was good to be able to see the Tories listening to the lobbyists. I wonder if that will change if or when they ever get into government?

Impressions of my first party conference?

Judging how much my head was pounding after the camp Tory disco, I definitely had a good time.

It's a shame that despite the PR, the Conservative Party, a lot of the time, still seem like a party of the past.

Blue-rinse hairstyles, signed pictures of Baroness Thatcher and a detachment from the younger generation.



SEE ALSO
Victoria reviews Cameron's speech
05 Oct 06 |  Have Your Say
Sam reviews Campbell's speech
22 Sep 06 |  Have Your Say
Matt reviews Tony Blair's speech
26 Sep 06 |  Have Your Say



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