No really. This conference they were the thin yellow line – and speaking from an entirely selfish point of view, they did a brilliant job.
Of course I know about the controversy over the new registration rules this year (how could I not?) and indeed, arrived at conference early Sunday morning – just as the motion to change the rules was being debated.
However, I had a problem. I wasn’t sure when I was going to conference, so planned to do the walk up and register on the day routine, having checked that this was possible on the website. Which it was.
Having got all the way to the start of the security barrier at the ICC (the ring of steel having a big holes in it on Sunday morning first thing) I was sent back to a faceless grey and black office block called Quayside, where ‘on the day’ registration was happening.
Arriving on the fifth floor, I was greeted by a bunch of cheery and positive volunteers, still eager to help despite the fact that I suspect that every single person making it to the fifth floor Quayside was going to complain to them, or have a problem with the registration system.
Anyway, having explained why I was there, I was given a terminal, people ran round being all manner of help. The whole process took a few minutes and I was all set.
Except I wasn’t.
I’d filled in all the CRB type checks in the application process – and while I don’t agree with having to do with them (but let’s not go down that road again here), I thought ‘well, that was at least fast’.
But I then learnt that the Police bit wasn’t fast. That it might take 2 hours. That the timing was up to the Police.
‘But I’m meant to be interviewing Nick Clegg at 11’ I wailed.
Now this was probably an unlikely scenario (I have never been in a position to name drop the leader before) and there was a certain amount of ‘really?’ type eyebrow raising. But then I explained I was a Lib Dem blogger and that it was arranged by Helen Duffett (that woman’s got clout) and it all kicked off.
I don’t know how they did it. I don’t know how many people did it. I suspect I was the biggest problem they’d had to cope with so far. But they got me in. In record time. And still were charming to every other person I saw, and maintained a steadfast (if slightly gallows) sense of humour throughout.
So hats off to the good folk who were on the fifth floor of Quayside, Broad Street, Birmingham on Sunday morning. I owe you.