What an odd day. Every person had only one subject on their mind - is there going to be an early election or not? Strangely, there seems to be a mood of erie resignation to the fact that Gordon Brown will indeed call one.
However, there was one dissenting voice today that I encountered on this - and one I have a lot of respect for. It was a private conversation so I won;t say who it was with, but it was one the country's leading political journalists. He's convinced Gordon Brown won't risk an election and thinks the polls are massively overstating the Labour lead. He reckons the lead could disappear as quickly as it arrived. The name of Ed Balls then came up. I remarked that I thought Balls was the most overrated politician in British politics and reminded me of Alan B'Stard's hapless assistant, Piers Fletcher-Dervish. No, no no, said the political journalist. "Ed Balls isn't the most overrated politician in British politician. That's Gordon Brown. He's a second rater." I picked up my jaw from the floor and was about to ask him what he meant by that when someone interrupted the conversation.
Can it be true that we have all overestimated Gordon Brown? I described him in my Telegraph column last week as the greatest machine politician of his generation. Was I wrong? Perhaps we shouldn't all be so intimidated by him.
It was a stellar lineup on the conference floor today with speeches by William Hague, Michael Heseltine, Boris Johnson, Michael Bloomberg and a video from Arnie. Apart from the cock up over sound, I think the day went well. There were lots of good policy announcements and by the evening I detected a bit of a conference buzz. No one is complacent about the task ahead, but there's a real optimism that by the end of the week people might see the Conservative Party in a slightly different light.
Let me say a word about Sayeeda Warsi. She comes in for a lot of unfair stick from Conservatives and non Conservatives alike. Much of it is unfair. Some of it isn't. Today she was on the front page of the Independent on Sunday for having the temerity - ad let's remember she's a muslim woman of Pakistani descent - to talk about immigration. She said that people who thought about voting for the BNP did so for a reasons and that their legitimate concerns should be addressed. Naturally the IoS did it's holier than thou act and castigated her for even thinking about the subject, let alone verbalising it. She said nothing that any non politically correct person could remotely find offensive and those that have criticised her have probably not even read what she said. Part of the reason the BNP succeeds is precisely because the mainstream parties are seen as failing to address their concerns. Is it really such a crime to point that out?
The big worry for me about today is not how we see ourselves at the conference but how the outside world sees us. And I haven't a clue about that. Enlighten me in the comments.