The Conservative Party in Blackpool: On the Front

IT STARTED without a kiss. Normal practice, of course, is to press the lips reverently to Baroness Thatcher's cheek however rude she has been about you. John Major did it last year, but he was let off yesterday - thanks to Norman Fowler.

Earlier this week Sir Norman delivered quite a good joke about John Smith's kissing of his deputy, Margaret Beckett, on the Labour platform last week - 'with all the sincerity with which Doctor Crippen used to embrace his wife'.

So when negotiations began between the offices of the leader and the Lady on platform protocol, it was pointed out that nasty minds might abuse Sir Norman's gag. Kissing, it was decided, was off.

The Prime Minister muttered a few words near the ear as he took the hand, and then patted it - a touch patronisingly. Rather as Dr Crippen in his surgery might have consoled a hypothermic granny worried about VAT on her fuel bills.

THE problem with being a holy relic of the Conservative Party is that you are just too venerable (or dangerous) to speak. Lady Thatcher is not at her best in silence: she can only cock her head and watch Kenneth Clarke like the goodest girl in the class - which he must have found unnerving. However, Ted Heath is a top mime. When he stood at the end of David Hunt's speech and slowly turned his back on her it was perfectly obvious that he was being a giant panda at the zoo sulkily refusing a new mate flown all the way from China.

Sir Edward looked at her just once, when David Hunt called for loyalty and unity in the party, and fixing her in his stare clapped long and ponderously.

'BLACKPOOL is a horrible place,' the Harlow MP Jerry Hayes wrote in a recent column for Amnesty International. 'The last hotel I stayed in I was the chairman of the escape committee. I've heard of people having puppy fat but they have got landladies who look as though they have swallowed the whole dog.'

Mr Hayes should have been more guarded. He arrived yesterday to find that the Blackpool Evening Gazette had mobilised the furious Blackpool landladies - 'You don't need to be a feminist to take offence at such rudeness' (Pauline, of the Colwyn Hotel). In order to get a bed in Blackpool he had to be photographed for the local newspaper apologising and kissing a variety of local landladies of different sizes.

MOST disappointing freebie of the week was the Scotch Whisky Association's offer of a bottle of whisky with which to toast the Chancellor's speech yesterday. It turned out to be a miniature, only a third full, with a label saying 'Scotch Whisky. 66 per cent Pure Tax.' Still, they got rid of 2,000 of them.

NORMAN Lamont came on like another ghost from the past for his Bow Group fringe meeting - black suit, white shirt and badger hair on a shroud-yellow background. But he was relaxed, urbane and even funny - a relief at a conference that has been marked by ministerial humour at its worst.

He told the meeting: 'Recession is when your neighbour loses his job, depression is when you lose your job. Recovery is when the Chancellor loses his job.' Not bitter, the former Chancellor went on to express the hope that his successor would not suffer both a double dip and a double recovery.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'