A Birmingham-born MP compared himself to Tory author Jeffrey Archer as conference goers mobbed him to sign his latest book.
Havant MP David Willetts, the shadow innovation, skills and university secretary, has written a 40 page book on the Conservative party’s links to Birmingham - released to coincide with the conference.
It looks at the history of Conservatism in the city, from the great Victorian city leadership of Joseph Chamberlain to the present day Tory-Lib Dem coalition led by Coun Mike Whitby.
And clearly sparked the interest of sixth formers from King Edwards Five Ways School in Bartley Green who stumbled across the signing session during a Conference visit to the ICC.
The group excitedly collected copies and autographs from the MP as he joined Coun Whitby to promote the book at the Birmingham City Council exhibition stand.
He said: “I know how Jeffrey Archer feels,” before admitting he would not be turning his talents to fiction.
Mr Willetts, a former pupil at King Edward’s School, Edgbaston, remembers the city he grew up in during the 1970s as the ‘unfashionable’ home of the Austin Allegro, Red Robbo and Berni Inns.
“The Gas Street Basin was a dump, a no go area and now it has been transformed. I hadn’t realised how much had changed.
“It is 75 years since the Conservative Party was last in Birmingham and we have been amazed at the tranformation. We are looking forward to coming back 2010.”
He says that Tories support is creeping back in urban areas and big cities after many years in wildnerness, with the chance of Birmingham becoming a Conservative heartland in future.
And his book shows how many principles of modern Conservatism can be traced back to the late nineteenth century and the influence of Birmingham’s Liberal Unionist Mayor Joseph Chamberlain.
He also looks at corporate social responsibility, focussing on the influence of the Cadbury family, and localism as highlighted by great Birmingham municipal leaders of the past.