Conference diary - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

Conference diary

Crispin Blunt was spotted at David Cameron's party on Tuesday night. What, The Independent wonders, was Malcolm Rifkind's campaign manager doing at a rival's drinks? Perhaps Rifkind is ready to fold, and his man is choosing which ship to jump to. Or was Blunt, like many, merely taking advantage of the free bar?

FOX-HUNTING

Alan Duncan, an early drop-out from the leadership race, is failing to keep his dislike for the hard right Liam Fox under control. One parliamentary researcher was startled when, having stated her preference for Dr Fox, Duncan barked, "Are you mad?" He had gone on record listing "all the candidates" for whom he had "enormous respect", and failed to mention Fox.

RESPECT

Being a former leader confers no special privileges, as William Hague is finding out. First, his speech was delayed so that he appeared after Liam Fox (to avoid stealing his thunder), and then he was forced to remove a joke - a quote from 1920s Tory PM Andrew Bonar Law, left - after it emerged that David Willetts had used the same excerpt.

TATWATCH

Riled at being outmanoeuvred by yesterday's launch of Ken Clarke's bottled water, the Cameron team have released their own "I HEART D C" water. Cameron's water is gassy, and needs serious care when un-bottling.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"When I first mentioned it, someone asked me what I had against obese people, and why I wanted to tax them." The shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, talks flat tax.

GOOD DAY

The French, who received rare praise during David Davis's speech. The Eurosceptic Davis was commenting on the differences in deportation policy on either side of the Channel. "I don't often say this, but sometimes the French get it right!"

BAD DAY

David Davis. The reception for DD's big speech was at best lukewarm. His stunt with the two "It's DD for Me!" models seems to have backfired. The odds on him becoming leader lengthened from 1/2 before his speech to 5/6 after he sat down.

CLAPOMETER: DAVIS V FOX

Davis: Moderate - rapturous. Three minutes' standing ovation.

Fox: Moderate - rapturous. Two minutes' ovation.

TODAY'S AGENDA

10.30 Lord Coe

11.20 Francis Maude

11.30 Michael Howard

Ed Caesar

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