Wednesday, 7 September 2011

I'm ready for the Lib Dem conference, but is the Lib Dem conference ready for me?

The shambolic preparations for the 2011 Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham continues.

With just 10 days to go, scores of members are still awaiting to be given their accreditation to attend. Many have already paid for their travel and accommodation but are currently in limbo. Others meanwhile have delayed the booking of such until they've got confirmation that they can attend which means they'll have to pay more for last minute accommodation and transport once the clearance has finally been given (if it is in fact given).

10 days to go and still not knowing what is happening? Taking away the issue of the principle at stake which is a seperate matter, the process that is currently dealing with delegates' registrations is proving cumbersome and unfit for purpose. It's madness. Pure and simple.

Proper Planning Prevents...
I had my accreditation e-mail last month and as a result have been able to confirm my arrangements.

I booked my hotel room at the Etap on a good recommendation from York's Nick Love a few months ago and I booked my train tickets last week. This for me is rather unheard of - even whilst everything else has fallen into place the weeks running up to a conference, I've never planned my transport so far in advance. But my very reasonably £29 priced return train tickets arrived in the post yesterday.

Ready for a trip to my Nirvana - Villa Park
I've also gone a step forward and taking the opportunity to buy myself two tickets for the Aston Villa Vs Newcastle match on the Saturday afternoon having not been to Villa Park for some 7 or 8 years. At a bargain £40 deal for both tickets, I'll be delighted to lap up the atmosphere of the Hotle End. The tickets likewise landed on my doormat this morning.

So I am ready for conference. But is conference ready for me? Clearly not. Because whilst I've been accredited (for which I suppose I should be thankful) and have received my first conference pack as I commented with some excitment at the time here, I am still waiting for my conference pass to arrive in the post along with the second conference pack. This is rather frustrating. Normally, both packs will have been posted out by the end of August but here I am with barely a week to go before my train leaves Aberystwyth and I'm still unable to plan the detail of my week because that second pack with information on conference fringe events and training opportunites is still lost somewhere in the ether.

Yes, I'm aware that this information is on-line but I'm a conference traditionalist. Just like with the Xmas edition of the Radio Times, I want the hard copy on my lap so I can circle all of those fringes and policy debates that I want to attend. I want to see the fringe clashes in black and white and have to work through which ones I'll attend and which ones I'll have to miss.

But I can't do that yet and that's frustrating.

For once, I'm completely ready for conference except, that conference isn't ready for me.

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