Conference Diary: A case of Major vu?

You have to go back nearly two decades to the days of John Major's brief honeymoon as Prime Minister to find a similar sense of anticipation at a Tory conference. They began queuing for the best seats for Dave's speech nearly three hours before he strode on to the conference platform.

The demand for places among journalists was so great that, for the first time, the party's press office had to issue hastily printed tickets to the great event.

A spot of patriotism

The spotty dress that Samantha Cameron wore for her husband's big speech wasn't just a dress; it was an M&S dress, writes Deputy Fashion Editor Carola Long. By choosing a cheerful style costing just £65 from a British high street shop, she conveyed the message that she and the Conservatives are in touch with the average voter, with some patriotism to boot. The chic, flattering design sold out within a few days of its launch back in June, and M&S sold around one dress every four minutes. Expect a lot of Labour-voting shoppers to be cursing Sam Cam and quietly pushing the ubiquitous garment to the back of their wardrobes.

Bubbly squeak

Tory activist Philip Whittington's conference came to a premature end when he was arrested over claims he failed to pay for a £150 bottle of champagne. He was held overnight on suspicion of theft and later released without charge. But his conference pass was withdrawn by Tory organisers haunted by the mention of bubbly.

Boris charges ahead

Hero of the week: If you asked the party faithful, it would have to be Boris Johnson. Most love his enthusiasm for bashing Brussels and cutting tax, and the colourful way he captures their thoughts. The party high command disagrees, regularly echoing the mantra: "It's just Boris being Boris." Make no mistake: if David Cameron fell under the proverbial bus, the party hardcore would want the London Mayor to replace him, notwithstanding his lack of a parliamentary seat.

You couldn't make it up

The applause had barely stopped ringing around the conference hall when workmen began dismantling the stage set and tearing down the exhibition stands, ready for the next big event: an international beauty products show. Joy.

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