Dylan Jones: If you ask me

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The Independent Online

If you ask me the coffee served at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool is the worst you're ever likely to drink. Perhaps the Tory delegates, the press and Michael Bloomberg's aides were too preoccupied too notice, but if anything was going to threaten to kill off the party during the Tory conference, it wasn't going to be Gordon Brown, it was going to be the coffee.

Trying to control the press at the party conferences is like herding cats, and although they spend most of their time tilting at windmills and looking for stories where there aren't any, one of the many stories this year was the non-appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger (unavoidably detained but available via satellite), and the very public appearance of the mayor of New York, accompanied by deputies, aides and a phalanx of press principles. Having flown in by private jet (via Paris) from a city where Nicolas Sarkozy is more famous than Gordon Brown, a place where our new PM is as invisible as Angela Merkel, landing in Blackpool gave the Bloomberg posse a real taste of the fervent nature of British politics before an election.

Here was David Cameron, unflappable and focussed, concerned with what everyone knew would be the defining moment of his career, hunkering down and surrounding himself with his able-bodied army of big brains and eager beauties (why is it that the Conservatives always have the most attractive administrative aides?). Here he was, sleeping in a bed once used by Churchill, and probably in the same sheets.

And to witness the world that Blair and Brown built (kickstarted by the Tories), they only had to step outside to see not only the rows of B&Bs full of unfortunates living on benefits, but also the rank and file of hen party revellers, dressed up and ready to drink their bodyweight in cheap lager. "I saw a gang of extremely drunk doctors last night as we went to get on the Ferris wheel," said one Bloombergian as we waited in the lobby. "And you know what? I don't think they were real doctors."

Oh, and if you ever visit the Imperial, I'd take a rain check on the food too. At lunch we were served what purported to be roast beef, and the Bloombergers looked at the meat as though it had only recently died. I was of the opposite persuasion: the meat was so tough it could have been cooked when Rudi Giuliani was in office.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'