Don's Diary

October 8, 1999

Thursday. Escape Liberal Democrat conference and miss first speech by Charles Kennedy as leader (have it recorded on video).

Instead travel along the north-west main line from Manchester to Glasgow. Keep bumping into senior marketing professors busy working through paper mountains on the train. We are all off to Strathclyde University to attend a symposium and dinner in honour of the retirement of one of the UK founders of marketing education and research, Michael Baker. After orations and celebrations, conversation continues until the wee hours.


Slowly return to Manchester, review new book proposals and enjoy reading selectively from Bruce Newman's magnus opus, The Handbook of Political Marketing. Catch up on paperwork and email. Meet dissertation student assessing management of Labour Party campaigning.


Assess Labour Party Conference agenda and monitor media. The main political business is on Monday (chancellor's speech) and Tuesday (prime minister's speech), and the rest is given over to a giant seven-day rally. Pity the poor ordinary members who will have to cope and finance themselves.


Animal rights look set to dominate the week's political agenda. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals mounts drag hunt demonstration as an alternative to fox hunting, with slogan "Dogs and jobs". The Countryside Alliance lobbies conference with 16,000 supporters signifying potential job losses resulting from a ban on hunting. RSPCA counters by arguing that research indicates that at most 1,000 will lose their jobs.

Ten per cent of all stalls and fringe meetings at party conferences this year are on animal-

related issues. Only 4 per cent are on education.


Review progress of book to be published next April, Machiavelli, Marketing and Marketing, with co-authors. Arrange for the May launch to be at Bibbione Castle, Tuscany, where the master wrote Il Principe.

Prime minister announces that university student numbers will rise by 100,000 over two years with 700,000 others entering further education. Hope that this is fully funded and that some consideration is given to how we attract people to academia rather than enter more lucrative sectors.


Calculate that there are 180 stands in the exhibition hall, 500 sponsored events and receptions at the Bournemouth conference, making it the UK's largest political lobbying event ever. Estimate Labour will raise Pounds 2.4 million from commercial and sponsorship activities at its conference. Labour Party celebrates its centenary - places at its commemorative dinner cost Pounds 350 per head.

May 2001 is pencilled in for the next general election.

Phil Harris is chairman of the Academy of Marketing and co-director of the Centre for Corporate and Public Affairs at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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