Public Affairs: Soap Box - Lionel Zetter, director, ComRes

Life used to be simple. It was always seaside, there was a strict rotation system, and it was invariably somewhere beginning with B. Now the seaside is no longer de rigueur, and the 'buggin's turn' principle has broken down.

I have always dreaded going to Blackpool, and I heaved a sigh of relief when it was dropped from the conference roster. For us soft southerners it was a long way to go, and once we got there the hotels and restaurants were woefully inadequate. Only survivors of Colditz, the Soviet gulags or British boarding schools could countenance the Norbreck Castle with any degree of equanimity.

Manchester has been a great innovation. From the Tory point of view, the north west of England is a 'target rich environment'. From the delegate's point of view, every pleasure and peccadillo is catered for, from China Town to the dubious delights of Canal Street.

But having been to Sussex University I have a soft spot for Brighton. It is close - at least for Londoners - and has a huge array of decent pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels. It is true that the Brighton Centre is badly in need of a refurb. It is also true that the IRA nearly took out half the Tory cabinet in the Grand. Overall, however, it is still my favourite venue, and I hope the Tories go back there.

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