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Last Updated: Monday, 11 October, 2004, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Conference diary: Thursday
BBC News Online's Brian Wheeler takes a look at some of the highlights - and low moments - of the Tories' annual conference in Bournemouth.

Thursday, 7 October


There was a time when the Conservatives would have done almost anything to secure a vaguely credible celebrity endorsement.

But that was before the party got groovy.

All week long we have been treated to the surreal site of Nicholas Soames singing the praises of Dido and Liam Fox confessing his passion for The Scissor Sisters, playing on video screens around the conference centre.


Now boy band Busted have joined the love-in.

The trio - whose hits include Year 3000 and Air Hostess - bashfully owned up to their political leanings in an interview with Tatler.

"I don't really like politics but I've always grown up with their views - the Tories' way of doing things. I just prefer their way of doing things," said 21-year-old Matt Jay, a former public schoolboy.

"I didn't know them but I am becoming more familiar with them," Mr Howard told Sky News when asked if he was a fan. "But I am very pleased they are supporting us."

Most of the Tories I spoke to on Thursday morning had not only heard of Busted, but were decidedly sniffy about their new recruits.

"I think the Spice Girls' endorsement was better," said one young man.

West Dorset Tories were more enthusiastic.

"Of course, I've heard of Busted," said one.

"I think it's marvellous. I think we should put them in our magazine! We should make use of them."

Shropshire Tory Henry Chance put the whole thing in perspective.

"One of them's a public schoolboy, so he doesn't count. He's been conditioned. Another one backs the Monster Raving Loony Party.

"And the third one says he ought to support the Tories because he is earning so much money these days.

"It's not really the sort of message we want to be putting out, is it?"


Seventeen-year-old Jessica Lever was the centre of media attention on Thursday morning, as she "did a William Hague" in the main hall.

But she wasn't the only young Tory eager to make her conference debut.

Kirsty Barrow, 22, from Oswestry, who says she is Britain's youngest councillor, had her big speech all worked out.

But she was cruelly robbed of her moment in the spotlight, not by pre-match nerves, she confessed, but because she overslept and "missed breakfast".

There's always next year.


Veteran rocker Rick Wakeman - in pin stripes and white shoes - buying a national lottery ticket.

The dapper "keyboard wizard" thought Michael Howard had had a good week.

In fact he was so enthused by the conference experience, he confessed that he wouldn't mind seeking a nomination himself, if the opportunity presented itself and he thought he could "make a difference".

You heard it here first.


Michael Howard likes nothing better than putting his feet up in front of the telly and watching his beloved Liverpool in action, he told Michael Brunsden in a Q&A session before his closing speech.

But Mr Howard's wife, Sandra, won't let him watch Sky when he is in London, he said.

There's always Match of the Day, Michael.


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