Nik Darlington 9.15am
Party conference season is coming to a close. As hacks and lobbyists blearily KBO after the Lib Dem and Labour gatherings (see my Spectator Coffee House report from Birmingham, which seems an age ago), the Tory faithful are gearing up for a few days of fun and discussion in Manchester.
Building on last year’s hugely successful agenda, the TRG has an exciting range of events to look forward to.
On Sunday, the TRG hosts its Parliamentary Mainstream Reception (17.30-19.00) in the Fairclough Suite in the Midland Hotel (secure zone). The guest of honour is Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister and Paymaster General and the wine & canapes event is sponsored by construction group Willmott Dixon. Parliamentary Mainstream is the parliamentary arm of the TRG, although membership is open to any Member of Parliament. The group has been revived since the formation of the coalition under the leadership of Jonathan Evans, MP for Cardiff North, supported by four vice-chairmen: Robert Buckland (Swindon South), Laura Sandys (South Thanet), Stephen Dorrell (Charnwood, and chairman of the Health Select Committee), and Andrew Tyrie (Chichester, and chairman of the Treasury Select Committee).
Monday evening sees the TRG’s Flagship Panel Debate on the state of the coalition taking place in Exchange 1 of Manchester Central (secure zone), at 17.30. Confirmed speakers include the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell, the Rt Hon Sir George Young (Leader of the House of Commons) and Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud and member of the Education Select Committee.
On Tuesday morning at 10.30 in the Midland Hotel’s Stanley Suite (secure zone) there is the Foreign Affairs Brunch, at which Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt and Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s Ambassador to the United States 1997-2003, will be discussing the Arab Spring over a full English breakfast.
Later on Tuesday, 17.30-19.00 in Manchester Central’s Exchange 4 & 5, the TRG is hosting a joint event with the Society of Conservative Lawyers and Justice, titled “The Human Rights Act: too hot, too cold, or just right?” Confirmed speakers include the current Attorney-General, the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC, former lawyer Robert Buckland MP and the director of Justice, Roger Smith OBE. It will be chaired by another former lawyer, Eleanor Laing, MP for Epping Forest, and promises to be a hugely interesting occasion.
And of course, no Tory conference would be complete without the TRG President’s Midnight Reception on Tuesday evening, 23.00 until the early hours of Wednesday morning at ‘The French’ in the Midland Hotel (secure zone). Ken Clarke might be approaching half a century in politics but the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary’s energy and conviviality is indefatigable. An event not to be missed (for TRG Members only, however you may turn up and join on the night).
We will continue to blog regularly during conference, with our usual morning postings and live blogging throughout the days.