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Comment - Miscellaneous

Spring Conference by Joy Winterbottom.

I had never been to a party conference before - neither green nor any other colour! Why did I go? Curiosity mainly, a hope of learning more, maybe coming back energized.

My reception at St. George's Hall was brisk and efficient. I was handed a lanyard with my name and 'Enfield' on it. Also a named folder containing timetable details for each day. I was at once aware of the huge number of options.

The building is massive Victorian, opulent halls, endless stairs and corridors full of scurrying people. We found the Concert Hall, all gilding and chandeliers where Natalie Bennett gave the opening speech to volleys of enthusiastic applause. On another floor, the Great Hall was lined with stalls - Young Greens, Green Women, various regions, campaigning groups. The main area offered round tables to seat 7 or 8, plus a counter selling refreshments all day. At one of the tables there was a 'First Timers' session to help us 'get the most out of conference'. There weren't many attendees, but it established a welcoming atmosphere and brought a few faces into clearer focus.

Then it was back upstairs for a speech from Jean Lambert. Throughout the weekend I had problems with the policy revision sessions. I understood the democratic intent - that everyone could have a say - and many people were greatly interested. Personally, I felt engulfed by a tidal wave of jargon and sub-clauses, but realised that I could come and go as I pleased. I went!

The final session of the Friday gave a choice between a panel discussion on the NHS, fringe events or a training session. I chose to attend the NHS discussion. After food, I was ready to go back to the hotel and put my feet up.

Each day followed a similar pattern and I mainly attended fringe events. These were held in smaller rooms, everyone sitting in a circle contributing to the discussion which was led by one or two with a deeper knowledge of the topic. Subjects ranged from Trident to disability, wildlife to Palestine, foodbanks to zero-carbon Europe.

By Sunday evening I was less confused, more relaxed and had taken some time out to see a bit of Liverpool. This was necessary for me as my 'overload threshold' is quite low. It was good to know that 3 other members of the Enfield group were there.

All in all I enjoyed the weekend. It had been worthwhile. I now have a greater sense of belonging. Would I go again? I'm not sure. Would I advise anyone else to try it? Yes I would.

First published in the EGP members newsletter, May 2014

Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ