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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Small Family Accountancy Practi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £50,000

£18000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is recruiting for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager / Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B software supplier, spe...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence