I have attended many of these over the years and it would be trite to rabbit on that this was the best ever or such like so instead, some acknowledgements and random thoughts.
Great to catch up with a number of bloggers including Home Paddock and also several ex-military colleagues including Colonel Bill Nathan in charge of the Te Whanganui a Tara Kapa Haka group who performed on the Saturday night (roping in the Prime Minister in the process). Bill was a sometime National Party candidate and for many years he was Parliament's Black Rod. He is as spry as ever and doesn't look a day over 60.
This was John Key's conference and that is not to understate the team he has around him. He is the face of National and, with the Parties volunteer base, our most valuable asset. His ability to engage right across the political spectrum is unrivaled in recent times (if ever).
The demographic of Conference is changing. The Young Nationals are everywhere and in your face.
It was reported they have now increased their membership to over 5,000 and, in most universities, the Young Nats outnumber Young Labour in spades. Their contribution to the policy debate was considerable. They represent a formidable and well resourced election force.
The Pacific Island contingent was impressive and determined to make their mark. They recognize the PI community is changing and that Labour has, for far to long, treated them as voter fodder. They were angry and embarrassed over Labour MP Sio's comment in relation to the recent school stabbing that "boys will be boys". Those comments do not reflect their values and 'times are a changing' and with it, political alliances and allegiances.
There was no complacency. Those attending were well aware that with the resignation of John Banks the Government does not necessarily have the numbers to push legislation through. It's that tight and there can be no complacency. National will need every vote it can if it is to progress it's 2014 manifesto commitments. It does not want to be beholden to others, especially of the flaky variety. That's the prerogative of the Left.
p.s. You were short changed with the TV1 poll on whether Cunliffe should remain as Labour leader. Their numbers had it that 66% of Labour's supporters thought he should. What they didn't tell you was that 99% of National voters thought the same way also.