Thursday, August 17, 2006

Conservative Party Board Sells out to Blackpool (Again)

Jonathan Isaby has a story in today's Spy column in the Telegraph which will send a chilld own many a Tory's spine - including mine...

It's the news that thousands of Tory activists - not to mention Westminster's legion of political journalists - have been dreading: the Conservative Party conference will be returning to Blackpool next year. It had been thought that the 2005 conference was to have been the last in the tatty Lancashire resort, with party chairman Francis Maude indicating a preference for cities such as Bath or Newcastle. But I can reveal that the party's ruling board has opted to return to the land of kiss-me-quick hats, donkeys and mushy peas."We are still looking at different venues for the future, but yes, we will be back in Blackpool next year," confirms a senior party source."They want us there and always look after us."The first Tory MP I called to impart the news was unimpressed."Please tell me you're joking," he said, aghast. "God, I can't think of anywhere I'd rather go less. I'll definitely be giving it a miss."

All I can say is that the Party must have got a bloody good deal. I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong, but it is the Party Board that will have made this decision rather than the Party Chairman, Francis Maude himself. They must want their collective heads read. They will no doubt trot out the usual excuses of other places not having enough beds blah blah blah. Rubbish. There will come a point when people just won't attend a Blackpool conference. They are fed up with over-priced, unclean, unwelcoming hotels. They're fed up with the appalling facilities in the Winter Gardens, which despite us being told that millions have been spent on refurbishment, appear to be in the same state of appalling decor each time we go there.

Before anyone starts attacking me for having an anit-northern bias, hold your fire. I wrote THIS about Manchester in March and assumed that the Party would be looking to make a return visit for an Autumn conference. I expect that the real reason is that Blackpool was willing to subsidise the event to a huge extent, while Manchester was demanding a lot of money. Whatever happened to the £100 million that Lord Harris of Carpets promised to raise for the Party if David Cameron became leader?

48 comments:

Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

Nice is sunnier and cheaper to get to via low cost airlines. Compare London to Blackpool via rail versus London to Nice via Easyjet!

The food is far better and the booze is cheaper.

Would show how the Tories have really changed and are not anti-European as well.

Anonymous said...

I have some sympathy here. We had a works outing / 'quality' awards in Blackpool back in 2001...

This was due to our then Chief Executive having his 'weekend retreat' somewhere up north, and being able to get a cheap deal on the hotel..

We were tasked with using the trams to go and acquire items for 'fancy dress' treasure hunt style. One eejit kept getting distracted by the 'hawkers' trying to part fools with their money on the rather impoverished seafront.

Modesty forbids me from mentioning who that was...

Clarkey said...

I suspect the reasoning has more to do with availablility. I suspect this is about having booked Blackpool for conference 2007 long before we all discovered the delights of Manchester. Conference centres are booked years in advance. We probably couldn't get anywhere else!

This will be the last time they go to Blackpool (thank god)

Theo Spark said...

Why not have a cyber-conference then you could join in from your local!

Michael Oakeshott said...

Lord Carpet has probably watched Dave's performance and decided to spend his money on better things...like throwing it over bridges or flushing it down toilets. A wise man.

Russell said...

Guido's suggestion was made by Matthew Parris in the Spectator a couple of years ago, though I think he was suggesting Brittany!

I went to conference in Blackpool once and never again....

Anonymous said...

Having been to the last 4 Conferences (2 in Bournemouth & 2 in Blackpool)I think Iain you are being a little harsh on Blackpool. Yes the Hotels and the Winter Gardens are miles apart, and yes its a bit run down but I enjoyed myself last year. But the only thing agaianst Blackpool is that is 5 hour train journey, whilst Bournemouth is only a hour and half.

Rick said...

What's wrong with Manchester, Harrogate, York, or even Leeds or Nottingham ?

Fruning Graplecard said...

Writing as a casual observer, the conference, as televised, never appears to be anywhere in particular. That it takes place in Blackpool is good for the soul as there should be fewer epicurean temptations outwith the venue.

The option of a soggy fish supper at a greasy spoon or a pitta full of warm slurry must concentrate the mind on the important act of attending debates and changing the world.

Long may it continue. Nice indeed - you Tories are so louche.

Fed up said...

Fully agree with you Iain but I think Clarkey has a point. Nobody within the Conference Planning Team wanted to go back to Blackpool but... having looked at alternative venues and restricted by dates which had been pre-agreed years ago with other parties, everywhere else half-decent was booked up. So let's all hope this is the last time in Blackpool but try and understand why (even if we don't like the place!)

ChaunceyGardener said...

Having done party conferences at Blackpool, Brighton and Bournemouth I have to say Blackpool is the worse by a long and not very golden mile. Bournemouth tops it IMO with Brighton not far behind.

I can understand why going to Blackpool might send a message that the Tories are not just a south of England party but that could have been demonstrated more sharply by opting for Manchester (or even Glasgow) instead.

dynamite said...

I know that after the last Liberal Democrat conference in Blackpool, the general consensus was that we weren’t keen to head back there – its bloody horrible. I’d be happy if all conferences were in Harrogate, which is great.

Prentiz said...

On the positive side, Blackpool is the only conference venue with a decent rollercoater...

Jonathan Sheppard said...

You guys should think yourself lucky - people like Iain when he took his politicos stand (and myself) have had to do all three party conferences. For me that was two weeks in Blackpool last year!

Im not sure the Kiss Me Quick Squeeze Me Slow hat goes with Iain's fine taste in ties.

PJ said...

Why not London? Lots of conference facilities, fairly easy to get to from everywhere in the country, and many of the important people live there anyway. I'm sick of my home town being discriminated against when it comes to these political events.

Vienna Woods said...

More prime conference space in Vienna than anywhere else in Europe and a hotel building program which will provide 80,000 beds by 2008. Cheap flights, cheaper booze, cheaper ciggies and cheaper petrol. What more could you want? No bloody riff raff and protesters either!

Anonymous said...

Interesting fact - the Conservative Party doesn't actaully have a Party Conference - a company called CUCO Conferences helds the conference. If the Conservative Party had a conference it would have to disclose to the Electoral Commission all the sponsorship received as donations and to include the results of the conference in its accounts - none of which happens at present.

media sum said...

But only lackpool's promoting a campaign to be made a registered World Heritage Centre...........

Andrew Woodman said...

In the words of John Reid, Oh fuck it's Blackpool.

Andrew Kennedy said...

Now that the excellent September Brasserie has closed the only decent attraction in Blackpool is Funny Girls nightclub.

Is it worth a 500 mile round trip to see Basil Newbies Dancing Trannies ? Sadly, I suspect not.

I remember attending one party conference in Blackpool back in the early 1990's. I had given a lift to my constituency treasurer, who had never set foot north of Winchester.

As he stepped out of my car in front of Ron's Seaview Holiday Flatlets, resplendent in his chalk stripe suit and Thomas Pink shirt, he took one look at the Golden Mile and said, "Oh my God - if Blackpoor where a woman she would be a tart".

Jeremy Moulton said...

I quite like Blackpool. I dont see why people moan about is so much. Last October a big group of us went us on the Saturday before Conference. We had a great time mingling with the locals on Saturday night and spent Sunday at the Pleasure Beach. I will definitely make the trip up again.

Jeremy Moulton said...

I quite like Blackpool. I dont see why people moan about is so much. Last October a big group of us went us on the Saturday before Conference. We had a great time mingling with the locals on Saturday night and spent Sunday at the Pleasure Beach. I will definitely make the trip up again.

Antony Calvert said...

Nonsense article, Iain. Blackpool is great! It is full of character, friendly guest house hosts (I've never been insulted yet... totally opposite to Bournemouth who are really rude), good fish and chips, the Blackpool tower (!!) and a conference centre with a great character.

The Imperial is also without doubt the more superior Conference Hotel too.

Anonymous said...

The better thing about Bournemouth over Blackpool is the cost of the hotel. For 5 nights last year in Blackpool it only worked out for £18 per night, in Bournemouth for the same this year I am paying £50 per night.

Cllr Iain Lindley said...

Blackpool has faults but this is definitely a "disproportionate response"!

Peter Hitchens said...

You can get champagne on draft at yates wine lodge , good seafood, a fight with drunken mancunians and are guarnteed to grip some slapper, Blackpool is great.

strapworld said...

gosh what a load of toffs!

Please dont go to the places ordinary people go. Dont, for goodness sake,go and mingle with the working classes...god forbid. They don't sell champagne in Yates Wine Lodges!It might do Cameron some good moving out of the London area.

Keep this up you wonderful A list tories! remove yourselves completely from the people whose votes you need and go to places full of foreign tourists!

I tell you this blog has got to be the worst yet Iain. Talk about the South and North divide!

I thought you needed Northern votes.Get yerself some steak and kidney puddings, with gravy and chips plus mushy peas. Now that beats
caviar!

Pulsar said...

Lord H------wrong pile!

Iain Dale said...

Strapworld. you're way off the mark. Did you not read the last para? It's got nothing to do with being "anti northern". I;d happily go to any Northern city. Manchester is fantastic, as is Harrogate, as is Newcastle. Blackpool is a complete ripoff and the hotels are terrible, as is the Winter Gardens. Why should we settle for that?

Pulsar said...

Exactly why did Blair and his babes stop going there?

Anonymous said...

If Cameron and his Tories want to make inroads into Manchester...why haven't they already put their money where their mouth is, and got themselves booked in (for whenever)?
In the meantime - well, meet the challenge of Blackpool. After all, everyone's a potential Tory - or so we're led to believe.

Desperate Dan said...

I don't think Francis Maude can be held up as an arbiter of taste and reason. He has twice sabotaged the Tories' chances in pursuit of his hopeless campaign to install Michael Portillo as leader. Even now he is selecting A-listers not for their electability but for their loyalty to him - thereby sowing the seeds of dissent well in advance of the election. If Francis Maude is flouncing around having a hissy fit because an aspect of Tory future planning has slipped from his grasp so much the better.

Peter Hitchens said...

Strapworld,
Yates do sell draught"champagne"
or at least they did a few years ago, it is actually sparkilng wine but they call it champagne, and if you want a pint of sparkling wine thats the place to go.
I dare say you are also aware of the "blob" Australian fortified wine, sugar and hot water?
Reasonable prices and the fights are free.
All you southern types if bored in Blackpool with nowt to do get yourselves up to morecombe, excellent potted shrimps, and I reccomend a walk on the sands, walk out as far as you can its perfectly safe, please take David Cameron with you.

Paul Linford said...

My days of attending party conferences are thankfully over but Iain is only half-right about Blackpool. Yes, the Winter Gardens is an appalling venue, and it is absolutely the case that however much money they spend on it, it continues to smell of stale beer and tobacco. But the Imperial Hotel, by contrast, is a fantastic venue - the "No 10 bar" there is easily the best drinking hole in any of the regular conference hotels.

Pulsar said...

Peter-and don't forget the wonderful Cod Cottage just outside B'pool!

Richard Shackleton said...

A few years ago, the chief exec of First Leisure plc (which then owned the Winter Gardens) let slip that political parties got all their facilities gratis (paid for by the council) - because of the spending power they(particularly the Tories)brought to the town.

Anonymous said...

Blackpool hotels always appear on those reality TV shows! The town is not business orientated....they want your money, sure, but are not prepared to do anything for it.

To be fair, they are not the only 'tourist' town in Britain that does not deserve any business. Far from it.

Anonymous said...

pj - I think you've missed the vital point which is that these conferences have to resemble a holiday atmosphere... Okay, it's not Ibiza, but getting away from the capital to a strange [?] town far away from prying eyes [!] is a recipe for indiscretions, gossip and tittle-tattle without which few people would bother to go..

Anonymous said...

Tenby is loverly this time of year..

Verity said...

Iain writes: "Jonathan Isaby has a story in today's Spy column in the Telegraph which will send a chilld own many a Tory's spine."

What does sending a child down a Tory's spine actually entail? How old is this child?

strapworld said...

Iain, I could give you the names of good hotels in Blackpool. Why dont you go down the road to Lytham St Anne's a litle more select!

Blackpool is what it is. A turn of the century holiday playground of the working classes.

I am very proud of my working class roots. proud that my father, from Oldham, actually became a Tory Agent (Enoch's at one time) and proud of his and my achievements.

The tory party meant an awful lot to me. Pride in country, defence of the realm and proper structures in local and national government, then along came the grocer and everything has changed.

Sorry Iain, Cameron is making the Tory party move away from me and my ilk...so be it but they will never be elected until they realise that they need the working classes.

move from Blackpool then.Wouldn't want you to suffer. I would keep to London.

I am not 'off the mark' Iain I am afraid you are.

Anonymous said...

Be interesting to see whether they try and steal the 'supercasino' back from the 'Prezzadome' after his cowboy antics on the ranch..

media scum said...

there is the 50/50 option i used when attending the more interesting Labour bashes in the 1980's (before the whole show became a luvvie's ball). Thta is to do the conference bit in the Winter Gardens et al, and then repair back by Tram for the night to Fleetwood (20 minutes away) where the Royal Euston Hotel (a Grade 1 listed building, and built by the leading Victorian architect Decimus Burton for the LNWR) is a stay in luxury at a fraction of the costs of any of the main (B)Lackpool venues.

Pulsar said...

Strapworld-could you check your facts on the cansidate nonsense-my cousin in Cardiff tells me neither of the two women are on list.
Great news on B'pool-short journey south for me-ideal!

Jonathan M Scott said...

I'm glad we're going back to Blackpool. It's somewhere I've been rather fond of due to the 3 party conferences I've been there at. For those of us originally from the 'North' (or Celtric fringe in my case), Blackpool is actually quite a popular place; although I can imagine it might not be amongst London metroplitan types.

If our members were not going to Blackpool then they would not be reminded about the need for regeneration in less advantaged parts of the UK. I think it would be sad if we turn our backs on Blackpool, but if so what about holding a conference someone like Birmingham or Cardiff? (after all, it doesn't have to be England)

I would even suggest Glasgow, but alas many people would probably go by low-cost airline (such as Guido Fawkes esq) and that would contradict our environmental policies.

Matt Davis said...

Blackpool is appalling and fully fits the description of a once great town now reduced to its lowest common deniminator, is that really the impression that we as a party want to give, once great but now on its uppers?

Anonymous said...

Blackpool makes Southend look suave and sophisticated. From an Essex Girl.

steppenwolff said...

http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=party.event.detail.page&obj_id=127721

Why does the party website say the conference will be in Bournemouth?