It was a pleasure to help Newcastle University as they organised their discussion forum at the Conservative Party Conference last Sunday. I was asked to act as ringmaster and chair on an all star panel of experts in the world of energy, energy security and climate change. The really impressive thing is that Newcastle Uni is reaching out as they do. For over an hour the experts took questions from the audience and discussed everything from energy security to nuclear power, from shale gas extraction, renewables and coal to the balance of energy provision amongst these competing capacities; the extent of subsidy, regulation and government interference was also discussed. Seen either side of me in the picture are Professor Richard Davies, and Professor Phil Taylor both of the university, whilst Siemens and the WWF were also represented. It was a pleasure to see the North East leading the way in the manner in which it is reaching out to the various party conferences and trying to create and then have meaningful debate on serious issues. The 2 professors are clearly gluttons for punishment as they had been representing the University the previous weeks at the Brighton labour conference and the Bournemouth liberal conference. It is not for me to say how they found the Manchester Conservative experience as compared to others, but there is no doubt that in a very broad debate they answered over 15 questions on a multitude of topics and all the panel are genuinely to be credited for engaging in this way.