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Last Updated: Monday, 11 October, 2004, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Conference diary
BBC News Online's Brian Wheeler takes a look at some of the highlights - and low moments - of the Tories' annual conference in Bournemouth.

Tuesday, 5 October


The Henley MP and man of a thousand jobs was in fine - if baffling - form, standing in for an absent Jon Snow, as chairman of a Daily Telegraph/Channel 4 debate.

Bill Deedes and Boris Johnson
The Bill and Boris show
Cruelty to animals is not as popular as it used to be, the panel agreed, as talk turned, inevitably, to fox hunting.

In fact some urban dwellers were even catching rats in shoe boxes and feeding them on cheese, before tipping them harmlessly on to their neighbour's doorstep.

"Yes, I do that with slugs," mused Boris, conjuring up a delicious image of the junior arts spokesman pushing little pieces of cheddar into a cardboard box, as a treat for his gastropod friends.

But it was not to be.

"I throw them over the hedge," explained the Spectator editor.

At least his neighbours will know who to blame if this year's cabbage crop goes awol.


Stewards - those unsung heroes who are always patronised, along with the police, in election victory speeches - are finding subtle ways of getting their own back.

One senior Tory organiser suggested there should be a new slogan which might spook voters more. "Vote Blair, Get Blair."
When asked what they were up to this week, a pair told a colleague they spent a lot of their time anxiously watching the ranks of Tory representatives seated in the main hall.

For potential security breaches? Spontaneous protests from animal rights activists or Labour party infiltrators?

No. To see if anyone had nodded off.


Conservative peer and legendary Daily Telegraph reporter Bill Deedes certainly knows how to rally the troops.

Asked at a fringe meeting what his message to the Tories was, Lord Deedes cut straight to the quick.


"I would tell them to cheer up a bit", he told a packed Pavillion theatre.

After all, he went on, it wasn't their fault Tony Blair is the most successful Labour leader in living memory, appealing to a broader section of the electorate than any of his predecessors.

Or that Labour were going to win the next general election by the same narrow margin they did in 1951, "if they get any margin at all".

Way to cheer everyone up, Bill, as the Americans would say.

To be fair to the Telegraph man, he did eventually concede Michael Howard could win the next election.

"With a bit of luck."


First there was Nicholas Soames telling a party promotional video his first kiss "probably scarred him for life" (what about us, Nick?). Now we have party co-chairman Maurice Saatchi coming over all Swiss Tony.

The veteran ad man apparently told a party gathering the country had fallen out of love with Labour and Tony Blair, but had yet to fully plight its troth to a handsome new suitor, in the shape of Michael Howard.

And winning the election, presumably, is very much like making love to a beautiful woman....


Tory MEP Sir Robert Atkins was spied backing Sir George Young into a corner at the Highcliff Hotel last night.

"How do you feel now the party is in terminal decline?," asked Sir Robert.

He was joking, presumably.


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