It's a lovely sunny day and looking out over the racecourse and the rolling countryside I can see why people love Yorkshire so much.
Sayeeda Warsi is about to kick the conference off. She's becoming an increasingly impressive speaker and media performer. She's not afraid to call a spade a spade and isn't afraid to make a mistake. That might sound an odd thing to say but too often our politicians play safe for fear of upsetting anyone. Those who do that cannot hope to make any sort of real difference to the lives of the people they represent. I get so sick of politicians who think blogging is a risky business. They are the same sort of people who will go on TV, spout a party line and then wonder why no one listens. Sayeeda is a different breed of politician. She may cause spin doctors to wince from time to time but the public listen.
I thank those in the open thread who were berating me for driving rather than taking the train. I thought we still believed individual choice. I use the train most days to get into London. On a weekend I love driving my car. I get pleasure out of it and no one, least of all anonymous blog commenters, is going to make me feel guilty about it.
Over lunch someone asked me how much the Party pays me for speaking at this kind of event. I wish! They were astonished that not only do I not charge a fee, I also don't charge expenses. Frankly, it would never occur to me. I don't get a lot of time to do much campaigning at the moment so I view this sort of event as something I can contribute to the Party.
Mind you, if things had turned out a little differently in September 2003 I might have been here in a different capacity. The night before I was selected for North Norfolk I was in the final for Beverley in East Yorkshire, which Graeme Stuart won. But I'm not bitter. At all!