Yesterday in Belfast

I was here for a conference on last year’s elections, which also coincided with the opening ceremony for the new building of the Queen’s University of Belfast Institute of Governance, of which I am an honorary fellow. Now I have half an office with my name on it. Rather a thrill.

The conference was OK but concentrated more on the findings of a massive opinion poll of voters than on the actual election results. I could have done with a bit more cross-checking with reality. The only real politician present was Jim Wells of the DUP, who has a disturbing physical resemblance to . Since many of the papers were attempting to explain why the DUP did so well in recent elections, and tended to conclude that this trend is now unstoppable, his interventions tended to be genial (except at one point when someone described the DUP as being right-wing – he doesn’t think they are).

Was glad to manage a drink in the evening with old schoolfriend A. and old politics friend S., the latter entertaining us with anecdotes from the recent talks at Leeds Castle and subsequently, all of which must remain off the record. We were in Renshaw’s which is very different now from the Senior Common Room atmosphere it had when it first opened twelve years ago. Full of first-year students enjoying the third drinking evening of term, before their money runs out. Nice to watch people have fun.

Then back to the B&B for my early flight – not so early, as it turned out…

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