That’s the main part of the conference completed. I’m leaving now and will post up later. I’ve been tweeting and twitpic-ing away. Check out the timeline of the @openunionism twitterstream – you can click through from the widget on the right.
My initial impression was that this conference provided surprisingly little content. The celebratory mood is to be expected but I felt it was excessive. While not quite in the same bracket as the Labour Party conference of 1992, there is a danger in being too exultant and self-congratulatory only two months out from an election.
The retrospective elements to the speeches – ‘I predicted everything and I was right’ – did nothing to cement the vision of the Party. I felt this may look more like conceit and self-absorption.
In terms of look and feel of the event, the Alliance Party are still behind the other parties. I was told there were around 500 people at the Dunadry today (including exhibitors), and it did feel very compact here. I hear they will move to another venue for next year’s conference. If the Party’s upward trajectory continues they will certainly need extra space next year.
But if the Alliance Party are to grow, then the content of this conference will not provide the momentum. In addition, the Party will not be as attractive to voters of Unionist parties if they continue to peddle the line that their electors are propping up prejudice / are prejudiced (as Stephen Farry did).
I’ll do into this in more detail, but this is my initial reaction.