Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What has the Braemar Gathering got to do with #ldconf?

The first Saturday in September sees thousands head for the tiny Deeside village of Braemar for the annual Gathering, a Highland Games in the Princess Louise and Duke of Fife Memorial Park. The event is always attended by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family and quite often the Prime Minister as well.

My Summer job when I was at uni used to be in the Youth Hostel in Braemar. People would book months in advance for accommodation during Games weekend. In fact, one year, people turned up really late at night and I couldn't bring myself to turn them away so they slept in the lounge.

So, this huge crowd of international strangers flocks to this gorgeous highland village. Not one of them submitted their passports months in advance for Police clearance, despite the presence of Head of Government and Head of State. Can you tell where I'm going with this?

My friends were up there last weekend for this year's event. The next day they went along to Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral, to watch the Royal Family go to Church. They were feet away from the Queen. When I was at the youth hostel, I quite often went to the service there. Again, they just turned up on the day.

Around a month ago, I spent a very pleasant couple of hours touring the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. The only info Buckingham Palace had on me was what they gleaned from my internet booking form. They didn't know who I was bringing when I booked for 2 adults and 1 child. The airport style security took care of any risks we might have brought. We didn't have to submit passport numbers, passport photos or go through any CRB checks.

 Bearing in mind that the only previous terrorist atrocity at a party conference was set up a month before when the bomb was put in place, it has always seemed to me that the measures agreed to by the Federal Conference Committee for our Conference were an expensive waste of time - a bit like the ID cards we opposed and were key to getting rid of in Government.

We are all concerned about safety at Conference- anyone attending has a self interest in getting home in one piece - but this is not the way to go. The issue is covered in the FCC report. I'd say it was worth voting against it a well as for David Grace's motion on the accreditation system on the Sunday at 9am.

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