Conference diary

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Indy Politics

Bizarre but true

Saudi government officials, famed for their hospitality, were horrified when Gordon Brown was stuck at the wrong end of the kingdom's official conference reception, out of reach of all the food. Fearing they had inadvertently snubbed the PM, they dispatched a whole ham by taxi to Mr Brown's hotel suite.

Hungry for power

Mr Brown ploughed through nine late-night receptions on Monday, leaving his famished aides flagging through lack of dinner. Eventually the desperate Brown entourage was spotted in the early hours of yesterday tearing into hamburgers at the Mirror party.

Labour's second defeat

Fresh from their thrashing on the football field on Sunday, Labour anoraks, including cabinet minister Andy Burnham, were narrowly defeated by a team of Lobby correspondents in a football trivia quiz organised by the Football Association. A signed England shirt was won in a lottery by one John Reid. Not alas the Scotland-supporting former home secretary, but a reporter sharing his name.

Return from the dead

Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown's former voice on earth, is making a dramatic comeback to his old stomping ground as head of the political department at the giant super-union Unite. The move has sparked rumours that Whelan – whose adventures in spin are legendary – will return as part of Labour's election team.

Good day

Spinmeister Alastair Campbell, whose tome is the only book on offer at Bournemouth, sold "shedloads" of signed copies of his diaries at a discount price of £20 each. Queues formed at the conference as delegates clamoured to read the inside story of the Blair years.

Bad day

Veteran MP Barry Sheerman, who got his suit drenched twice in a day. First he had to borrow towels from helpful railway station staff to dry off after a torrential downpour. Then a hapless waiter upended a tray of champagne over him at a £500-a-head fundraising dinner.

Party of the day

The Independent's, naturally, following the best fringe event. It was the only place to be seen for après-debate drinkies.

Today's agenda

9.45am: Debate on education. Speeches from Ed Balls and John Denham

2.15pm: Question-and-answer session with Gordon Brown.

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