I must admit I was not very happy when my alarm went off at 6.30. The thought of having to vhair a fringe meeting only an hour later filled me with horror. Although I am a morning person, I just couldn;t imagine who on earth would attend a fringe at that time of the morning. When I accepted the invitation to chair it, I had assumed it was in the evening... Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised. Clearly there are more people desperate to hear about food miles and the benefits of airfreighting fresh food into the country than I had imagined, as the event attracted fifty people. It was organised by the campaign group FLYING MATTERS and among the speakers were its chairman, former Labour MP Brian Wilson, Tory MEP Nirj Deva, who had hotfooted it from the UN General Assembly in New York, and Greenpeace's Chief Policy Advisor, Benet Northcote, who, you may be surprised to know is a former Tory candidate and Wilfred Emmanuel Jones, who is Tory PPC for Chippenham and used to rejoice in the title on Britain's only black farmer. He can't any longer as there is another one!
The discussion ranged far and wide, from the arguments surrounding climate change to airport expansion, sustainable development in third world countries and British agricultural policy. Indeed, it was far more interesting than I had thought it might be, with some lively contributions from the floor. All in all, a successful fringe event, I think. Which just about made getting up at such an ungodly hour worthwhile. Almost.
Was there food available? I have been known to go along to the early fringe meetings if the breakfast on offer is good. Several years ago I sat through a meeting put on by the CBI that I wasn't terribly interested in purely because of the bacon rolls on offer.
How can anyone possibly get ready to be seen in public in less than two and a half hours?
I am appalled.
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