The 'great and the good' of Kent's voluntary party gathered in Lenham's Red Lion tonight, for the annual Chairmen's dinner and brainstorming session. The world of international commerce have the Bilderberg Group; this is more like the Iceberg Group. Slow, frozen in time and able to sink anything that comes close by.
Before the formalities began I was summoned upstairs for an important pre-meeting. The Area Treasurer and the Deputy Chairman were already there - with a look of concern. "I'm not sure there are sufficient Chairs" said the Treasurer. I counted them - there were 16. "That's what I made it", said the Treasurer. Just in case neither of us could count, the Deputy Chairman counted them too - and he also made it 16. The three of us stood there looking at 16 chairs and discussing if that would be sufficient, but given none of us knew how many we actually needed it was all a bit pointless. After a quick head count it was decided we needed 6 more chairs, but we couldn't fit six more around the table. This necessitated a re-arrangement of the table plan. After much grunting and shunting we had 22 seats - all was well. The meeting could begin.
The new Kent Area Chairman led the charge up the stairs, though "charge" may be a touch optimistic as he is still recovering from a broken leg, sustained last May when he fell over his own dog whilst canvassing. He announced a major political breakthrough which could change the balance of discussion over Britain's relationship with Europe. We looked on agog, breath baited. Apparently he was chairing a Kent County Council Select Committee examining how Kent has benefited from EU funding, and it had found that since 2005 (or maybe it was 2003 or 2008 - he couldn't remember) Kent had received £40 million from Brussels. We all nodded sagely and looked forward to the Telegraph headlines reporting the KCC Select Commiittee's report.
The meeting commenced with a cursory discussion about Europe. Someone thought that someone from UKIP might be about to defect (or perhaps they had a defect - I couldn't be sure). There was talk of a four paragraph letter. Another man said a 28 meter sink hole had appeared which stopped them campaigning. From one of the additional chairs we had put out, it was announced that the ruling faction of the local Sikh community had fallen-out with Labour following a row. Elsewhere, an MP had erected a banner. And someone else said the safe seats mustn't be neglected. It amused me that we had "defected" "erected" and "neglected" at the same time. How the minutes dragged. This was High Politics, Kent-style.
Finally it was time to go home. The South Zone Oberleutnant was on his feet handing out Euro leaflets to recalcitrant recipients. "They're free, they're free" he kept telling us, I took a large handful more out of sympathy than enthusiasm. I wonder how many free Euro Leaflets would be required to fill a 28 meter sink hole?