One of the joys about living in deepest rural Suffolk is that we're a bit out of the way. The downside of that is that getting speakers to come to your Annual Dinner is more of a challenge. And so, we were rather pleased when Ros managed to lure a former Cabinet Minister to do the Mid Suffolk Liberal Democrats Annual Dinner this year, in the shape of Ed Davey.
Our Annual Dinners are usually pretty good, especially as our Social Secretary, Sheila Norris, has an incredible ability to find interesting venues with high quality food, and this year was no exception.
And so, Ros and I set off on Friday evening across country to pick up our guest speaker from a mystery location (at least, we know where it is, but we aren't telling), before heading to the Fynn Valley Golf Club, our venue for the revelry to follow. You can tell that Ed has done a lot of these, as he hit the ground running, introducing himself to local members, making small talk and engaging with our newly expanded membership.
The meal itself was spot on, good food, generous portions, before slightly later than originally scheduled, Ros got up to introduce Ed. Luckily, they're old friends, having worked together on similar portfolios - they both shadowed John Prescott when he was the Deputy Prime Minister and had local government under his wing, so there wasn't that slightly awkward 'used Wikipedia to find out more about someone I don't actually know' moment, when the person being introduced is as surprised as anyone else to discover what they've done.
Ed was superb. He gave us a 'tour de horizon' of energy and climate change policy, what had been achieved, what was at risk, reminding us as to why the Coalition, whilst unpalatable, was necessary. Working with Europe, the rise of India, the sheer ideological-driven idiocy of some Conservatives, all described with passion and energy.
It all made giving the vote of thanks rather easy - there was no shortage of material to cover - and it was clear that he had rather impressed his audience (and we aren't easily impressed here in Mid Suffolk) from the warm applause that he received.
All in all, an excellent event, well worth the surprisingly reasonable ticket price. We may have to go some next year to top it, but with Sheila's organisational talent, and some judicious contacts, we'll give it a go. And, if you're a Liberal Democrat within a reasonable drive, you might want to come yourself.