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Monday, September 20, 2004


Each day of Federal Conference traditionally starts with a press conference as the party seeks to promote the current messages in the hope of influencing the media. The Welsh party joins in this feeding exercise as a matter of course so as to ensure that journalists who have travelled here from Wales have something to write about. So it was that I sat in on the first of these events to see what was what.

I did not suspect that our spin doctors had put on a special photo opportunity to reinforce their message and that as the BBC wanted to interview me at the same time I had to tag along. The event took on place on a windswept beach below the conference centre. Two of our employees had built sand castles near one of the groynes. The objective was to identify each one with a Labour constituency, a citadel, and then watch as the Liberal Democrat tide came in and washed them away. Yes, I know, it sounds naff but actually it worked quite well for the cameras.

The problem was that rather than offer shelter from the wind the groyne was faciltating a sandstorm around the whole area. When we got there the two employees looked like they had been rolling in the sand, they were covered in the stuff. As the prospective parliamentary candidates rolled up their trousers and worked on the sand castles for the cameras, standing ankle deep in the sea, non-essential personnel such as myself retreated from the constant stream of sand and grit to take shelter on the promenade. I am still cleaning the stuff off 12 hours later.

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