Oct 9, 2009

In the belly of the beast: a week in Tory politics

I had the "pleasure" of creating a bookshop for the "nice" delegates of the Conservative Party Conference.

I researched and ordered in about 20 grand of political books, most of them with a "certain" political bias, and then had to spend the best part of a week at the conference "enjoying" myself and "hob nobbing" with Tories and media types.

The thing with these conferences is everyone is very "polite" and no-one quite "says" anything. I also think they're a bunch of "Tory fascist blueturds" and "if I ever have to do that again, I will run screaming through the Arndale centre with fourteen machetes and a mechanical woodchipper".

Having said that, I did quite enjoy myself. Here are my tweets from the event, edited and expanded for the purposes of a blog. I warn you now: there is a lot of pathetic name-dropping of people I never really cared about before now.

The tweets in all their horror


From Monday, I will be a Tory Party Conference delegate. I am selling books. And my soul. Yay, go compromise!


I already have Boris Johnson's dad's number in my phone.


I'm inside the Tory Conference. Actually inside it. It's like a pro-fur poor-hating Matrix. So far. i've had (and squandered) the chance to punch Eric Pickles, Boris Johnson and, um, Jon Snow.

I turned down the chance to have lunch in the Hilton with Damon Hill and lots of Tories. My political prejudice trumped my F1 love.

A Radio 5 presenter is having an animated discussion with John Redwood about the interview they'd just done. Fight, fight, fight! ("If I'd known you were going to mention Europe in the interview, I would never have done it.") More media celebrity spotting: Krishnan Guru-Murthy nearly got run over by a bus; Nick Robinson is hurrying around looking lost; Jon Snow looks like he rules the place. In fact, Jon snow has this amazing, quiet, very very tall authority. And lazers shooting from his eyes. He rules the WORLD.



I'm the belly of the beast. The 'Gordon Brown's Porkie Pies' butchers have arrived. We're next to them. Also, fewer people in Maggie masks than yesterday. Evan Davies and his mates have just been down to my stall joshing and larking like they're in the Beano. Yargles!

John Pienaar has a massive moustache. It's bigger than him, and he's a BIG MAN.

I've just been interviewed by a louche Beeb journo. I really shouldn't have been so negative - don't think they're going to use it. I said I was surprised that people seemed pleasant, and he got all defensive and said ACTUALLY the Conservatives are very nice people. (I haven't met a horrible person yet. It's not just false politeness - actual genuine warmth.)

PETER HITCHENS. IT'S PETER HITCHENS! WHERE'S MY GUN? AAAAARGH! Yes, yes, I now have met a horrible person.

Bob Stewart has just told me, "Always look on the bright side: no-one's died." This, coming from a commander of Bosnian and Northern Ireland forces.

The best author signings are where the author works his crowd. Michael 'House Of Cards' Dobbs is a real showman, if a little Dan Brown-y in his writing. (Actually, it's Brown who is a little Dobbs-y.)

The pro-hunting debate deepens: David Cameron is literally running around a in fox suit shouting "RELEASE THE HOUNDS".

Jeremy Paxman: "I was with my brother at the weekend, scattering my mother's ashes." Stanley Johnson: "Is she dead?"

Jeremy Paxman: "Tweeting is an activity for people with an inflated sense of importance and absolutely nothing in their heads."

One Tory told me the BBC was a waste of money because it took EIGHT people to shoot a Daily Politics OB. ("They only need a cameraman.") Good job he wasn't around at the end of the conference when the Beeb accidentally smashed in one of their soundproof booths.


Quentin 'Daily Mail' Letts is getting all misty-eyed about the days of hanging and flogging. Well, Letty-babes, this could be your lucky day. (This, in retrospect, could be considered a death threat. I didn't type it. It was my evil twin brother.)

For sale: one photograph ID pass for a major Manchester event with a day left to run. Buyer must look like a clean-shaven Johnny Vegas. ...I am transporting some right-wing political books, on Oxford Road heading towards GMEX. If you see me, please mug me.

Paxman again. He's like a persistant puppy. Down Paxman! Get off my leg, Paxman! No, Paxman, not the hamster! (Pictured with Boris' dad.)

Paxman just called someone a "feckless parent" for letting their 12-year-old stay up to watch Newsnight. He's the ultimate grumpy old man, with more than a dash of very sharp wit.

New Statesman talk titles: "Real Freedom Or Care On The Cheap?" "Should The Public Trust The Police?" Er... duh!

Wednesday evening

I'm checking out Jerrod Cooke and Ryan Barber's Bo Jazz live sketch show, featuring my flexi-faced colleague Curtis Cole. It's a great mix of comedy talent, but I think it's better for the stage than for BBC3. A nice break from Tory bookselling


The media are all looking tired. Four conferences in a row (including the TUC conference) have taken its toll on this portly bunch. Speaking of portly, Nick Robinson is, um, bigger than I expected him to be. There is a *lot* of pastry going around at this conference.

Incidentally, this conference has *all* been about the media. There are cameras everywhere, and it's all about how it looks on TV.

Next time someone pays with a note to buy a book, I'm going to pause with the coins above their hand and ask: "Ready for change?"

A prominent Northern Ireland politician's comedy response to enquiries about his poorly leg: "I was knee-capped." Too funny.

A Question Time regular didn't need a bag for his book, although he added with relish: "It'd annoy the environmentalists if I took one." Tosser.

Official bestsellers at the bookshop: 1 Total Politics Guide To The 2010 General Election; 2 Matt 2009 (Telegraph cartoonist); 3 Wolf Hall, the Booker winner which we conveniently had a massive supply of.

David Cameron's speech, during which I had work to do (read a live tweet of his speech - scroll down here.)

People are willing to wait 90 minutes for Cameron's speech. I wondered what their expectations are, so I asked them: "Steady as she goes, don't frighten the horses." "Honesty." "Straight talking." "Fairness." "Give it to us straight."

Warm-up music: Keane and Stereophonics. It's not quite D:Ream. (I'm not in the speech hall: just next door.)

Bono?! Bono?!?!? That's outrageous.

I've just popped into the speech. Blah blah blah. Everyone looks bored. The sound has gone on the overflow broadcast and no-one seems bothered. If the cameras follow him out of the room, look out for me, he'll come my way! (He didn't walk past us. He ascended unto heaven like a fox-hunting, lying, fascist Christ.)

What the papers won't tell you: in the toilet 40 yards from Dave, there is a man plucking the grey hairs out of his moustache.

So that's it. The messages on the floor? Low taxes, old fashioned values, anti-Brown and not a lot of love for Cameron. I stay opposed to a party for the rich that gives the state over to big business. Value Thursday's G2 supplement: you'll need it come May.

Pack-down done. I have gained the most confusing poster ever (pictured), a blackboard, a book trolley and free Tesco buns. I need a mental & physical shower. Thanks for reading: the Tory tweets end here. I respectfully ask my newly acquired Tory followers to, in the nicest sense, f*ck off.

All the pictures I took can be found on my new Flickr page.


Pot of Gold said...

..I kept the faith and I kept voting
Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand
For theirs is a land with a wall around it
And mine is a faith in my fellow man...

Steve Parker said...

Thanks - great fun, made me laugh out loud on the train!

Love the "This Way" sign pointing left!

Fat Roland said...

Pot Of Gold - and they were *high* walls!

Steve - I think that was my favourite picture. I was directing people into a maze for the RNIB, and I don't think they'd noticed the potential irony.