I did not know what to expect. It was exhilarating, yet there was a sense of normality surrounding it. Even David Cameron walking past you in the corridor. When you start being involved in politics, MPs become the equivalent of a favourite celebrity. You usually see them on a screen, and sometimes forget that really they are just people doing a job like everyone else. Then you are at 2 in the morning at the lobby bar, the uncomfortable but gorgeous shoes hidden under your table as you’ve been on your feet since about midday (you lazy gal!), having a random conversation with an MP who forgot to buy something to drink to someone who is pregnant at his table. I’m an introvert (INFP FTW) and I don’t do small talk, yet I feel like I’ve been shaking hands and saying hi to everyone.
I start to reconsider my life choices as my friends seem to be all party members and every new person I’ve met seems to have been 1 degree of separation from me all along, even when I haven’t been introduced by the friend in common. Even Zac Goldsmith. The conflicting feelings that went on all the time, when you were dying inside after bumping into your favourite journalist/MP/man altogether etc while keeping it cool because you’re not 14 and this is not a One Direction concert. There was the excitement of the first time anything happens and the realisation that it’s nothing special after all. Only people going about their own business who seem to think you have something interesting to say after 20 minutes and introducing you to 4 people who could have provided them with the acceptable excuse to go away instead. That’s fairly new for me, as I normally have something to say that is only of interest to Catholic priests (and I’m not talking about my confessions).
Before Conference, I’ve always felt on the fringe of the party. A One Nation Tory whose loyalty is first to God. Someone who owns a lot of literature from the Centre for Social Justice. Someone whose alma mater was founded by a philanthropist and is herself a big fan of noblesse oblige. Yes, there are groups in the party for people like me, but knowing they are there is not the same as walking into a standing room only event with people being turned away as they pose a threat to safety in case of a fire!
It’s when you find yourself in such a situation that you realise you are not alone and ask yourself why it took you so long to decide about party membership. It just feels so natural.
No amount of insults from the self-righteous “crowd” on the street could ever convince me it was a bad idea. And FYI, person who asked if we had been drinking champaign all day…no, the wine at most receptions was really bad.