In my role as Presidential Consort, I had been invited to attend what had been billed as a party for Liberal Democrat staff and volunteers on Tuesday night. The venue, the Park Plaza London, across Westminster Bridge from Parliament, was interesting, as it only opened recently, but given the recent announcement of job losses in Cowley Street, I was expecting a slightly subdued event.
I put on a suit and a happy smiling face, and turned up to find that something strange was happening, in that this was a much bigger event than I had expected, with a ballroom filled with tables and an all-star cast of ministers, MPs and Peers. All in all, it looked like an event held to celebrate a glorious victory, an event reflecting confidence in the future.
Having shed my wallflower disguise, at least for the time being, it was nice to catch up with a lot of people I have run into over the past two years, including Ian Swales and Mike Crockart, who we visited during the campaign, the ubiquitous Daddy Richard and Auntie Helen and a number of senior Peers, including our Glorious Leader, Tom McNally (I have to confess that my loyalties are to the Lords these days rather than the Commons).
With a speech from our host, Ramesh Diwan, a few comments from Ros and a speech by some chap called Clegg, it was turning into quite an evening, but the Shirley Bassey impersonator (good enough to fool many of us), turned it into something definitively LibDem.
In truth, we aren't used to glamour as Liberal Democrats. Our events, with the exception of our Federal Conferences, tend to be slightly amateurish, if more accessible than similar events held by the Conservative and Labour Parties. We're more school hall, than conference hotel, and it will be interesting to see if that changes now that we are a party of government.
I should also note my regret at the loss of some very good people. It is true that, after General Elections, we frequently make significant staffing cuts, but it is never pleasant or desirable. We are very lucky to attract some very dedicated people to our cause, and I hope that those who have had to be released will find new jobs very soon.