To Euston for the biggest and best of the Liberal Democrat leadership hustings (alright, so I'm biased, we hosted it). First though, the Spring Regional Conference...
I have to admit that it was a bit low key, with the hustings hovering over it, the air thick with anticipation. Under the circumstances, all went well, with Paul Burstow kicking things off and two of our Council leaders (Sean Brennan from Sutton, and our very own Peter Truesdale from Lambeth) giving the rest of us useful hints on what to do when we get elected. I have to admit to having been a mite flustered, as I had to keep an eye on the conference, whilst keeping in touch with the preparations for the hustings in the main hall downstairs. I also got to close Conference, in the absence of our Regional Conference Chair, Alison Sanderson (giving birth just to get out of turning up on a cold February evening is a bit much - only joking, Alison!).
You'll see plenty of other comments on the actual hustings elsewhere and, as I was in and out of the hall for large parts of it, helping to deal with late arrivals and minding one of the entrances, I'll stick to some impressions.
Ming was actually pretty good. I'm still comfortable with my choice (Huhne 1, Campbell 2, Hughes 3) and reassured that if my man doesn't win, the party will still be in good hands. He seemed to display more passion and more humour with a larger audience, an interesting realisation. Chris was solid, well-informed but perhaps could have kept his answers a little shorter. He'll need to work on demonstrating his sense of humour a little, as he occasionally came across as a mite too earnest.
Simon had the misfortune to be interrupted by a group of hecklers. Those who know a little about Southwark politics will be aware of the Imperial Gardens fiasco, and the key players in that drama took the opportunity to attempt to hijack our event. Perhaps they might learn that, in Liberal Democrat circles, we tend to rally around our own, and their attack probably served to bolster Simon's support amongst those present. It may have been foolish of me to join those attempting to intervene, but it was the right thing to do and we managed to deal with the situation without things turning violent, although it did look a bit dicey for a moment or two.
It was incredible to see a hall full of people, listening to speeches and responding warmly to them. I'm led to believe that the Guardian exit poll will show that Simon 'won' but given the number of polls that have been published, and the variations in their results, I'm going to wait until the results are declared next Thursday before I get excited.
Afterwards, off to Mabels Tavern (an old haunt of mine from my days at Inland Revenue Maida Vale) for a few beers. Simon was there with some of his supporters, and I was surprised, yet again, to encounter some of the people who read this blog. I have no real idea why you read this, my friends, but I'm flattered that you think it worthwhile to do so...