And so the day of the Regional Conference came, and with Ros and I on the platform for part of every session, and with two side meetings scheduled, I was never going to be anything other than busy. Anyone would think that I was up for election, or something.
Regardless, we left for Cambridge in pretty good spirits, and arrived at Cambridge Regional College in good time for the 10 a.m. kick-off. Sian Reid, Leader of Cambridge City Council, welcomed us to the city and to the conference, before a session of policy debates and Parliamentary reports. Motions on 'A green future for the East of England' and 'Science in the East of England' sandwiched the Commons report, fronted by Bob Russell and Norman Lamb, memorably described as 'Eric and Ernie' by Tom McNally when introducing his report from the Lords (I did tell Bob later that I had assumed that he was Eric, rather than Ernie).
We have a positive story to tell about our Parliamentary representation, as we now have a Westminster Parliamentarian in every one of our six counties (four in Hertfordshire, two in Norfolk and Suffolk, one in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex), and we really need to use them more effectively.
The next session, chaired by the dashing and handsome Regional Secretary, was a series of presentations and speeches, the first being a call to arms for the 2012 campaign from our Regional Campaigns Officer, Ian Horner. Ian is a hardened professional, and gave those still licking their wounds after May every encouragement to believe that, with hard, smart work, we could do better next year. (Baroness) Sal Brinton talked to us about the work of the Diversity Engagement Group and the new Leadership Academy, subjects dear to my heart certainly, before Watford's 'city boss', Mayor Dorothy Thornhill gave us a good talking-to about what is possible.
And last, before the lunch break, was our Member of the European Parliament, Andrew Duff. I have to say that, when the European project appears to be at its most vulnerable, it reassures me to know that someone as passionate about the good that Europe can do is representing our interests. His speech was warm, funny (not necessarily expected) and informative, and he received a very generous, and thoroughly deserved, round of applause at its conclusion. And we hadn't even reminded people that he was generously sponsoring the buffet lunch!
After lunch, whilst Ros chaired a session with more motions plus the reports of the Regional Chair and Treasurer, Lorna (our Regional Administrator), Chris Williams (our Regional Returning Officer, from Milton Keynes, and I met to go through the nominations for the Regional Executive and its various sub-committees. This, perhaps, is the advantage of not running for office again...
Back to the hall, as Ros introduced the 'highlight of the day', as she put it, the constitutional amendments, moved by me. Luckily, the rationale for each amendment had been included in the agenda, so I was able to move them formally, allowing them to be passed en bloc in just two minutes from start to finish.
Next, off to a meeting with a Local Party to discuss candidate issues. A very courteous, yet robust exchange took place, where the reality of the relationship between Regional and Local Parties was aired and mulled over, whilst some useful points hitherto unconsidered by the Regional Party were brought to our attention.
And then, almost too early, Conference was over for another year. As we headed home, Ros and I agreed that it had gone pretty well...