The final debate of the day was on criminal justice and prisons.
Islington members Greg Foxsmith and Sarah Ludford were among the speakers. Islington has the unusual distinction of two prisons, although as far as we know there are no plans to float Titans on the Regent’s canal.
Then on to the NUT fringe on education and the recession. One of the (few) silver linings in the financial crisis might be that ambitious graduates now stay in research and development or move into teaching rather than heading for the City. We debated the merits of funding ‘leisure courses’ (something Labour ministers sneer at). One delegate pointed out that the UK is facing an acute shortage of histopathologists. No, I’m not sure either, but make your career plans now.
Then it was off to dinner with Women Liberal Democrats (appropriately for the weekend of International Women’s Day). There are a number of unwritten conference rules, one of which is that at some point you end up in Pizza Express, as we did, and indeed some of the group had already eaten there the night before. No wonder the waiter was so cheery.
There was a great range of women there, from MPs and veteran candidates, to first-time delegates. Jo Swinson MP was, as ever, inspiring: with more MPs like her, we could challenge the findings that young women have no role models in politics.
We discussed some of the issues in the women’s policy paper that’s now out for consultation, rehashed the faith schools debate, and swapped time- and stress-management tips. Mine is singing (it reduces my stress, not sure about the effect on those around me). But on this occasion I skipped the traditional Glee club for an early night. Sleep, after all, is the best and rarest treat of all.