Conference Diary - Conservative Conference Day 3 #cpc13

10/07/2013 09:12:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 1 Comments

Tuesday morning dawned bright, early and with the traditional spoonie greeting of being run over by a bus in the night. The desire to flee home to a comfy memory foam bed and not have to sit on a scooter dislocating all day seemed overwhelming. As did the need to know who my 10am meeting was, as foolishy I forgot to write down anything but the time.

Despite phoning a taxi 3 times it did not arrive. Finally manage to flag down taxi in 'oh god I'm late for the meeting' panic. Taxi driver helps load scooter and off we go. Taxi driver gets stopped by the police.

Finally arrive late at conference to see huge mass of protesters and queue to get through security. Whimper pathetically about having to scoot through such a crowd at waist height. Decide only way to ask nice policemen to help. Fortunately nice policemen decide to escort me through security while I whimpered some more about the crowd. G4S appeared slightly non plussed by my appearing with a police escort who politely requested they look after me but me & the pink pliers made it through intact. Just.

The best random conference meetings always happen by chatting to random smokers. Had a good chat with nice chap from the big Christian media company in the UK. Compared notes - neither of us could remember the bit in the bible where Jesus urged blaming the poor for everything. Nice Christian smoking man went off looking very troubled.

More smoking with lovely lady who turned out to be Jake Berry MP's assistant. Lovely lady sorted us a quick chat with Jake about disability stuff and housing. Had a moan about the shortfall between Local Housing Allowance and actual rent. Concerned MP said 'but you should be getting a DHP, they're for people like you'. Pointed out applying for DHP's utterly degrading and short term. No answer to that beyond 'oh dear'.

Met very jolly posh Tory, just out of schoolboy who explained to us his role was to be able to talk to 'normal' people. What a poppet. Still being drunk at 11am probs a good start with the 'normals' but more likely to find those on a bus than inside secure zone. He'll probly be PM in 20 years.

Went back to try and find Conservative Disability Group man. Jacket in evidence, no sign of man but nice Conservative Friends of Sri Lanka man came over to chat. Went back to see Conservative Friends of Azherbijan. Got invited to very posh, very past bedtime party. They remembered me from last year so filled a bag with goodies for BendyNiece.

Got invited to unlisted fringe - George Osborne in conversation with Gary Gibbons. Quite interesting really and fortunately my jaw was glued together with the sweets the Wheelchair Evacuator people gave me so I couldn't make inappropriate comments. Fringe ended, scrum of people headed to try and meet the Chancellor. Took the 'sod it, they can only say no' option that has served all campaigners so well and headed into scrum. On scooter. At crotch height. Ick.

After being pushed in front of by another queuer I was rather surprised when the Chancellor looked over and made eye contact with me saying 'I've seen you, stay there, don't move I'll come over to you'. How can a man who's mother worked for amnesty and who can spot a distressed disabled behind a scrum of overexcited Tories not see what his government are doing to said disableds? These are the toughest moments at conference - how can these people who are so polite, so helpful and so friendly to our faces not understand what we're saying to them?

Chancellor George Osborne stands and talks to Kaliya Franklin sitting on her scooter

So, we shook hands and I asked if he could spare me some time to discuss welfare, disability and employment. The Chancellor said he would make time to meet and discuss it properly, so having had lots of photos taken his SpAd and I exchanged details and off we both went.

After that the plan was to go to head back to the JRF tent for a rest and then go to more fringes. The plan worked as far as the JRF tent and a lie down with a blankie. After about 10 minutes I realised if I didn't leave NOW I was going to throw up all over the JRF tent...which seemed no way to repay their hospitality.

Scooting and dizziness don't mix. Nice policemen will approach you to see if you're drunk. Slurred speech doesn't help this impression. Tears ensued. Finally managed to find a cab and get back to the hotel to become horizontal.

I wonder if I'll get that meeting the Chancellor promised...


Conference Diary - Conservative Conference Day 2 #cpc13

10/04/2013 12:06:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

Beth and Kali get made up ready for a day lobbying 

Did I mention the tired? Goodness the tired! After a late night and serious lack of sleep we plastered on the slap ready to face the fray.

Arrived at conference and went through security. Lovely G4S security guard approached looking a tad nervous and said "Would you like to tell us why you've got a pair of pliers in your bag?" Apparently "because they're pink of course" is not an acceptable answer. I'd also advise not pointing out that due to epic crip issues you're unlikely to even be able to use said pliers but could do an awful lot of damage with the scooter. It makes even the friendliest of security guards a tad twitchy. Fortunately had the sense not to laugh and say "but you didn't find them yesterday, did you, eh, eh". Got through security still in possession of pliers offering biscuits as bribes.

Usual conference type chaos. Make a plan. Throw away plan when other things happen instead. Was supposed to debate workfare proposals with Christian Guy from Centre for Social Justice live on Sky News. Got briefed by lovely JRF people. Debate got cancelled. Cross journalist arranged a quick soundbitey thing. Apologies to anyone who saw it - I'd already had morphine!

Met a lovely delegate @meliden - we realised 5 minutes into the conversation that we'd been twitter pals for ages. Had some really good chats about disabled people, fluctuating conditions and employment.

Went to Eurocopter stall and had our photos taken on their funky green screen. May have been so overexcited about the green screen and green cape that I scooted off clutching said photo with no idea you were supposed to pay for photos. Oops. Fortunately nice Eurocopter lobbyist told me they'd never seen anyone so excited over a green cape and were glad to give me the photo for free. Phew.

Found Conservative Disability Group stand. Went back and back to CDG stand. No-one there except the 'make disability bearable' bears. In the spirit of 'free our people' we freed the bear and brought him home.

'Make disability bearable' bear working hard on his new life as an oramorph addicted scrounger
 Talked to lots of backbench Conservative MP's about disability, welfare and employment. Met lovely young chap from Conservative Future who wanted to support what we were saying on disability. Really supportive conversations with Eleanor Laing MP, Charlotte Leslie MP and Richard Graham MP and lots of delegates.

Discovered the 'wheelchair evacuator' guys. Incredible invention to be able to quickly attach the handles to any manual wheelchair and safely evacuate in an emergency. Especially clever as it keeps the attendant's back straight and is very affordable (£300-400) It is a wee bit bumpy, especially when the triathlete pushing you decides to run full pelt down the steps but it was good to know it doubles as an accessible roller coaster! Given the choice between bumping and burning I'm all about the bumping!

Nearly got thrown out by security guard when Wheelchair evacuator man ran full pelt through the main conference hall lobby and several Tories had to jump out of the way. Beautiful moment

Managed to leave conference with enough spoons intact not to vomit but not enough to make it to dinner. Fortunately the amazing @fibro_girl and her lovely PA Trish were there and could bring some food back to the room. We spoonies got our jammies on and laughed/bemoaned our inability to attend the really posh party we'd been invited to on the grounds that 9pm was way too far past bedtime. 


Conference Diary - Conservative Conference Day 1 #cpc13

10/04/2013 10:46:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

Despite military level planning on time to arrive, time to eat, time to nap it all went a bit wrong once we got to Manchester. Diversions, directions & protestors everywhere. Multiple sets of directions from traffic police later Lovely PA and I realised there was no way to drive to the hotel. Decided only answer was pile me in a taxi and get to hotel that way. Taxi driver's grasp of the English language was better than my grasp of Arabic...but frankly probably a close call. Still despite all that he got me where I needed to be and was kind and helpful. 

Got more stressful when arrived in hotel to be put on the 12th floor, furthest from lift, no idea where the stairs were or if the hotel even had an evacuation plan. If they did they weren't communicating that to their guests. Became slightly hysterical. Hotel moved me to 6th floor. Neither room accessible. Still no evac plan. Hotel staff really puzzled by my distress as after all "the accessible room is available for you tomorrow night"

Became completely hysterical & fled to rescue by lovely Beth Gerg to share her room in accessible Travelodge. Yeay Travelodge. Boo stupid posh inaccessible, 'burn to death PTSD' hotel. 

Disability and Employment fringe went well, very good attendance, quite a few delegates there along with the usual charity representatives. Brilliantly chaired by Isabel Hardman from the Spectator and Telegraph and the panel was Jaspal Dhani, Stef Benstead, Esther McVey, Ralph and myself.

Slight disagreement with minister over 10 points PIP issue. No-one in room any the wiser after endless 'but is that what you intended or not', 'well is it a typo then?' discussion.

Cripcarded Anne widdicome on way out of the fringe. I feel confident sharing with you that she is not a scrounger fan. She did agree to put in a good word for disableds though.

Finally got to restaurant at nearly 10pm. Fled restaurant as food arrived coinciding with onset of sweating/shaking. Its generally best to avoid embarrassing puke in public moment. So, a typically uneventful conference day 1 then. Can't wait for Osborne's 'stand up to the weak' speech tomorrow...