(apologies for the delay in posting this article, which was due to technical difficulties)
Missed the entire morning of Conference to accompany Annabel Goldie MSP and David Mundell MP to the Conservative Social Action project.
Social Action is at the heart of the modern Conservative Party and for me defines what it is we offer Britain at a time of great social and economic uncertainty. By involving ourselves in projects that are at the heart of our local communities and which deliver tangible benefits to local people we demonstrate the true nature of conservatism in the 21st century. Having travelled to Bosnia earlier this year to participate in one of our international Social Action Projects it was good to get stuck into a project closer to home and which clearly meant so much to the children who looked on as their Club was transformed.
This year's project was renovating Radcliffe Girls and Boys Club. This small Club sits at the heart of a community with its fair share of difficulties. Through its events it offers a community resource that pulls the local community together and although it can't be described as modern it is much loved and valued by those who use it.
After a morning of painting fascia board (filmed by BBC Scotland when I wasn't exactly looking too gainly) and tidying up grounds it was time to hop into a taxi back to the Conference secure zone for meetings with a variety of lobbyists and environmental groups. Having been coated in paint the smell of turpentine certainly makes you stand out in a crowd of people hoping they are preparing for Government.
Of particular interest is the sheer number of people lobbying on sustainable energy solutions - highlighting once again the threat to Scotland that the lights might start to go out unless we take immediate action. It is also good to hear from our international, blue chip companies who want to play their part in a cleaner, more sustainable planet by evolving their business model to ensure optimum levels of recycling and energy recovery.
By mid-afternoon I become acutely aware that while everyone else is in suits I am in my jeans and social action t-shirt - sticking out like a sore thumb. The Scottish Chairman's wife very kindly proclaimed it made me look more human than the assembled throng but it was time to nip back to the Premier Inn for a shower and change into a suit - very kindly no mention of the odd smell from Mary.
On the eve of David Cameron's speech, to what will be the final Conference before a General Election where we hope he will be elected Prime Minister, it is hardly surprising the main topic of conversation is what we will hear from him tomorrow. What will it include? How will he play it? Should he take risks? All subjects discussed at length while David and his core team prepare for a day of vital importance to the fortunes of both the Conservative Party but probably more importantly our country!
But sometimes it all becomes a bit much (even for the most dedicated of Conference goer) and time to take a break from the Conference village. So I join Peter Lyburn, Hamira Khan, Marilyn Orcharton and a select group of others nipping out of the secure zone and down Manchester's "Curry Mile" to the self-proclaimed world famous Sanam Restaurant. Wonderful food to match the company and then back to the Conference Hotel to attend a Candidates Reception before an early bed having been asked to speak in the "Great Britain" debate that opens Conference tomorrow.
There really is a genuine excitement about tomorrow's leaders speech. Britain needs a leader to take it from its broken state to one of optimism and confidence and I am in no doubt David will show tomorrow that he is that man!