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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Lining up for the Tory video box
Simon Jones has his say

They walk past a couple of times, warily checking out the glimmering silver box and the plasma screens on the walls.

A quick tour around some of the other stalls, past the man selling ties, the corporate stands and the post office and they return, shuffling up to add their names to the list.

Krystal Miller: 'A new vibe'
They are signing up for the chance to spend a minute airing their views on whatever they like in the Conservative Party's video box, one of the innovative new additions to this year's party conference.

The main change is to be seen in the conference hall. A themed backdrop changing daily, three podiums for speakers and a metal floor in the style of a London warehouse apartment development.

The structure of the conference has changed, with sessions starting later and ending in the early evening.

To that some added a "chill out" zone run by Conservative Future. In truth, it's really just a another stand.

But the real new stride is the video box, clad in silver and with all contributions apparently being made available to the shadow cabinet for their perusal.

Fear

The brainchild of Roger Gale MP, the video box has seen a steady stream of visitors raising issues from positive discrimination to education.


With the changes in the conference structure, there was a fear that not enough people were going to have a say

Roger Gale MP
"The idea is to give everybody who wants to have their minute a chance to speak," he said.

"With the changes in the conference structure, there was a fear that not enough people were going to have a say.

"Some of the contributions will go in a film,. a round-up of the day, which we'll be showing in the conference hall every day.

"And the tapes will be available to the shadow cabinet to see."

One contributor, Simon Jones from Conservative Future, welcomed the chance to have his say.

'Vibe'

"I think it is a good idea for those people who are less comfortable about standing up in front of people.

The view from behind the camera
"It's an innovative advance and shows that the party is taking its members seriously."

Krystal Miller, also of Conservative Future, described the video box as "a new vibe".

"It's important that the party hears what its members are saying," she said.

"It is quite daunting talking to the camera but it's a good idea."

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