The Tories in Bournemouth: Mayhew hunts peace before an Ulster free-for-all: Conference Notebook

THE NORTHERN Ireland debate today could turn nasty against Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State, in spite of the efforts of Michael Ancram, the Northern Ireland minister, who has been searching for peace in the conference hall as well as the Province.

Northern Ireland Tory activists are hopping mad at the conference organisers, who are expected to reject an amendment tabled by North Down Conservative Association calling on the Government to act as 'persuaders' for maintaining the Union and to abandon its even-handed approach to the Downing Street initiative.

Sir Patrick has been unable to enjoy a quiet white wine on the fringe without being lobbied by the Ulster Tories. He has firmly told them he has no intention of becoming a 'persuader'.

He has been engaged in long behind-the-scenes talks with William Stuttaford, who is in charge of the conference, about how the debate may be handled.

Mr Ancram has been pouring oil on the troubled Ulster waters at the conference, but yesterday the Ulster Tories, supported by the Ulster Unionist MP David Trimble, were still collecting a protest petition around the Bournemouth International Centre demanding a change of mind by the party heirachy.

The law-and-order debate is the first item of the afternoon - a notoriously tricky spot after the representatives have returned from lunch - and Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, may draw some of the fire for Sir Patrick.

But if the assembled delgates do not break out in a show of what Jeremy Hanley would call 'exuberance', there will be no escape.

The leadership has picked for the balloted motion on Friday morning a call to preserve the Union with Scotland. The Ulster Tories are determined to hijack it.

Day two, and the hundreds of police searching the horizon with powerful binoculars from around the party conference have still seen no sign of Mark Thatcher. But the police officer in the rubber speedboat patrolling the bay had a bit of a scare yesterday afternoon.

With temperatures soaring, he spotted something emerging from the water on the beach by the Bournemouth pier and went in for a closer look.

It turned out to be nothing more threatening than a a topless model, posing for the photographers in the breakers.

Lord Archer has been telling Tory colleagues that he was unable to attend the conference and host his traditional Krug and shepherd's pie reception for the great and allegedly good because of a three-line whip in the House of Lords.

That has not stopped his position as party-giver to the gentry being usurped by the former chief whip in the Lords, Lord Hesketh.

The roly-poly peer, famous for his bow ties, has been hosting parties in suite 223 at the conference hotel. But Lord Hesekth has been serving Pol Roger, which he prefers to Krug.

Saatchi and Saatchi hosted their own champagne party at the Highcliff, attended by the Prime Minister and half the Cabinet, all of whom were waited on by staff wearing Amadeus costumes.

One of the guests was Norman Lamont, enjoying the limelight after delivering his 'bombshell' on Europe on Tuesday, when he was approached by Bruce Anderson, John Major's exuberant biographer.

The former Chancellor thought Mr Anderson was approaching him to congratulate him.

Instead, Mr Anderson angrily denounced Mr Lamont for acting in an ungentlemanly manner. His victim took the abuse in good heart.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015