It was Northern Night last night. It has developed near-legendary status in the conference calendar, in part of course because we had a North East MP as our Prime Minister.
So you might feel that the mood was different this year. It was, but not in the way you might have thought.
The marquee was packed, and when Gordon Brown came in, he got a rapturous reception. He spoke warmly and wittily for about 5 minutes and was cheered to the rafters. It was an astonishing occasion.
It's my sense that the party is in a state of almost visceral loyalty to GB this week. We don't much care for Tory tabloids telling us who our leader should be, and how Charles Clarke is able to walk round unmolested is beyond me.
Back to Northern Night, where I was on the door, gently separating guests from their cash in aid of the raffle. There's no way one can retain a shred of dignity hawking tickets, so I just went for it.
I can report that the likes of Margaret Beckett, John Prescott and David Milliband all gave generously. And after a shameless performance by Gateshead MP Sharon Hodgson overseeing the auction, we raised over £1,000 for North East Party campaigning.
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