Back When I Met Boris Johnson in Blackpool, Nearly Twenty Years Ago.
I was a Conservative party member twenty two years ago.
Long before I moved very sharply to the left on issues such as the economy, migration, criminal justice, redistribution of wealth and other hot button topics, I was a very strong believer in the power of the markets and trade union reforms.
I believed that free trade was panacea to all of humanity problems and no one could talk me out of my views at all.
And because I desperately wanted to be a Tory MP, I was advised to attend constituency meetings and much more importantly, get to the Conservative party conference holding in Blackpool that year (2003).
Now for those who don’t know much about British politics, party political conferences are such a big deal; for members of the press, party members and the politicians themselves.
It is usually one of those rare opportunities where rank and file get to meet their favourite politicians, journalists and captains of industry.
And there are also fringe meetings. These are usually arranged by newspapers and lobby groups and they tend to have front line politicians speak about issues closest to their heart.
What was interesting about party conferences in the past was the locations in which they were held; The big cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool weren’t favoured but holiday resort towns such as Blackpool and Brighton.
Readers who are old enough will remember that Margaret Thatcher was fortunate to survive the bombing of the hotel in which she was ensconced during the 1984 conference, which took place at Brighton.
The Conservative conference in October 2003 was one with a difference.
The Tories had selected its first ever Black candidate — Adam Afriyie — -to the safe Conservative seat of Windsor. Given how very white the parliamentary party looked back then, it was such a big deal and Afriyie, of Biracial heritage, was paraded in front of the cameras like a prized pet, on the first day of the conference.
Also the Iraq war had begun only a few months prior and Tony Blair’s Labour government had become…