My Conference Pass and papers have been sitting somewhere in a North London Royal Mail Sorting Office for the last couple of weeks – so my first act on arriving at Brighton was to make my way to the Conference Office to join the queue for what used to be called ‘Late Accreditation’.
In previous years this has been notorious with waits of four, or even six, hours not uncommon. In fact, I was in and out in about an hour and spent a pleasant time chatting to friends and colleagues. The queue, while I was there, included two Ministers, several MPs, a number of Labour Peers, a London Assembly Member and even a former Party General Secretary – no special treatment, everyone treated the same – and all in good humour (with the only exception being a woman from a public affairs company with five passes to pick up for her clients).
Security is as tight as ever – two pass checks, a bag search and a metal detector arch – but in addition at one of the pass checks you are asked a security question. This is fine, although a bit of a surprise the first time it happens. And it is fine as long as you know the answers. One Labour Baroness – who will remain nameless – discovered that her age had been keyed in wrongly (or at least that’s her story). In the end, she had to say “Do you really think I look that young?” before they let her in.