That seems a pretty bold statement I know. But from reading some of the other Lib Dem blogs it seems as though loads of people from outside Wales were at the Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference in Llandudno this weekend. Some to do training, some to speak, but what they all seem to agree on was that it was fun.
I suppose it is just that the Liberal Democrats in Wales are pretty sociable bunch of people. I’ve described the Welsh Liberal Democrats before as “big enough to do things, but small enough to actually make sure they happen” and this seems to be reflected in their social life. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are big enough for there to always be interesting people to chat to and for you to never get bored, but they are also small enough for you to get to feel as though you know everyone. The Welsh Lib Dem conferences also always succeed in having people there from all age ranges, from all parts of the country, and they all genuinely get along together. I’m not saying that the Welsh Lib Dems never fall out, of course they do, but it is far more common that they get on.
Mark Valladares has a pretty good account on his blog of what an evening with the Welsh Liberal Democrats can be like and it reminded me of the conference dinner when I was at the last Welsh Liberal Democrat conference in Aberystwyth. There I had the fortune to sit on a table with people like Kirsty Williams, Mike & Veronica German, Rob Humphreys, Ali Goldsworthy, Rodney Berman and Nick Tregoning. As well as having a good laugh during the dinner, it was then topped off by the issues we caused to Elgan Morgan during the subsequent quiz (I won’t go in to it, but anyone who was there will know what I mean). I accept that it was probably a “you probably had to be there” moment, but I definitely remember it was being good fun.
I once somewhat uncharitably described the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference as “a lot like an English regional conference, but with TV cameras, simultaneous translation and it runs for a whole weekend.” I say “uncharitably” because policy debates in Wales actually have some importance and because English regional conferences have a reputation for being fairly dire, for example over an hour was taken up at the recent Yorkshire and the Humber Conference with a debate on the regional constitution. What is missing from other party conferences is the same level of fun, the friendship and the genuine camaradery that the party has in Wales.
I have said it before, but there is something about Wales that gets inside you. I only lived there for ten months, but I loved it and I can’t quite leave the place alone. It isn’t just the country itself, but the people I met there. I still have a lot of friends in Wales and that is why I can still get enjoyment out of attending a conference for a part of the party that I am no longer a member of. Politics isn’t all about having fun, but in Wales it is certainly a part of it.
WILL HOWELLS: Something for the weekend: hen wlad fy nhadau