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?