So, to nobodies surprise, we got a copy of the diatribe and equally unsurprisingly Ella and I came in for shed loads of venom. The word on the street is that some people on the circulation list have been left seriously upset by what was written about them and others have been left more than a little annoyed.
I suppose bemusement plus a degree of weary amusement is what Ella and I are feeling. Many of the points raised by N.O.C. just don't deserve a lengthy reply or at least not from Ella and I. What I will do is to say a few words about things where we have detailed first hand knowledge.
- None of the authors of the diatribe were present at the conference so it isn't clear where they got their information from. Most of the "facts" they list are just not true and most of the "opinions" they quote are not typical of the feed-back forms that the conference participants filled in.
- Every penny of the sponsorship money has been accounted for. Virtually all of it went on paying for speakers or subsidising the hotel costs. Less than 1% was paid out to the organisers to refund their expenses and far from "leaving with their purses bulging with un-spent sponsorship money" the organisers were left slightly out of pocket.
- Apparently the "inner circle" had all the best hotels rooms while the delegates had to put up with "second best". All the rooms I saw were basically identical and were allocated in order by the hotel receptionist as people arrived. I didn't hear a single comment about the quality of the rooms during my time at the conference.
- Yes the external speakers were rather disappointing. But the amount that would be charged by some of the high profile speakers I have heard mentioned would have been totally out of the price range the organisers could afford.
- I have zero clue how anybody could have felt the arrangements for the evening meal were "hopeless". The delegates were given a list of more than a dozen places to eat within a 15 minute walk. None were expensive and many were quite cheap. Some delegates went off to eat in friendship groups: as was their right. But the organisers, plus Didi, Ella and I waited round at reception so that none of the delegates who attended on their own felt forced to eat solo. Two groups of 5 were created and as far as I know everybody who wanted to be social had the opportunity to be exactly that.
- Nobody has yet expressed any interest in running the 2017 Conference. And who could blame anybody for thinking that it is a totally thankless task! Any suggestion of a stitch-up by the hard core to meet next year in Blackpool is just silly. If the N.O.C. want to put in a bid for Newcastle then they should go ahead. I still think that geography is the biggest weakness of the Newcastle bid and if you plot the locations of the current electorate on a map then the facts speak for themselves. Manchester or Leeds perhaps but surely not Newcastle!