The 2006 Council meeting of the International Young Democrat Union kicked off last night with a wonderful function at Australia House, the Australian High Commission, with David Cameron as guest of honour.
I was lucky to have got there early before it filled up (250 attending) and so got to chat a bit with Cameron as he did the room. He was up to date on NZ politics, and international politics generally.
Cameron is definitely charismatic and engaging. Very easy to talk to, and has a nicely developed sense of humour. I do hope he beats Gordon Brown in 2009/2010.
Cameron spoke on the five things conservative parties should do to renew themselves. He made a very good case for why protecting the planet should be just as much a conservative brand as national security. He spoke well too on the problems in Iraq while unreservedly saying he was a great friend of the US and always would be. Cameron had just returned from Baghdad that day.
I had wondered how we managed to get the Australian High Commission to host us, and it clicked into place when someone pointed out the Chairman of the parent IDU is of course John Howard. Thanks John for the wonderful hospitality. The function room we were in was actually used to film some scenes in one of the Harry Potter films. The NZ High Commissioner, Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt, was also in attendance, and went out of his way to chat to the four New Zealanders who were there, which was appreciated.
The funniest moment for me was chatting to a very senior British politican who upon hearing we are from NZ, went on to reveal that Helen Clark had not curtsied to the Queen at the remembrance day celebrations. All us Kiwis laughed and said she has a habit of offending the Queen and past sins were wearing trousers and refusing to allow grace to be said, despite her role as the Head of the Church of England.
I may be a republican myself, but I do believe you give full respect to the sovereign, while she serves.
Was overall a great evening. The Australian waiting staff filled your glasses up if they get below 80% full, so the wine flowed all night, and I had the pleasure of catching up with old friends and acquaintances from Australia, Sri Lanka, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, the US, UK and Taiwan etc. A good turnout from Eastern Europe especially.
The council meeting runs until Saturday. I’m presenting at one session on Friday, and then that evening is the highlight – a function with the person who was Leader of the Conservative Party five before Cameron. I think most would know her name!