There is a "cunning plan" being whispered about on the conference fringe - one that calls for a deliberate move to let the Labour party win a by-election.

The party leadership has already written off Clacton to Ukip's Douglas Carswell but believes the new by-election sparked by the defection of Mark Reckless is a far less certain victory for Nigel Farage.
So it has been assumed the party will throw the kitchen sink at the constituency in a bid to avert a second disastrous loss to the "people's army". But not so fast. This is where the cunning plan comes in.

It has been suggested to IBTimes UK that some are urging the party to do the opposite, put up only a minimal fight and let Labour storm through the middle.

That would allow the Tory leadership to then turn around to those supporters toying with voting Ukip at the general election and say "told you so, a vote for Ukip is a vote to let Labour in."

Reckless had just short of a 10,000 majority at the last election but there has been a bit of a backlash against him in the constituency since his "treachery" and this strategy might conceivably work.
Whether it would be such a good idea, though, is a different matter. Sometimes plans can be too clever by half.

Quote of the conference 1

Chancellor George Osborne: "Ed Miliband made a speech that was so forgettable, he forgot it himself."

Quotes of the conference 2

Former minister Ken Clarke, who has been around since dinosaurs ruled the Tories: "I am bemused to find myself wandering around another party conference."
Join the club.
Clarke, speaking at a pro-European fringe meeting was characteristically robust about Ukip, claiming it was a "nasty organisation" and warning his leaders they were in danger of imitating it.

Are the Tories about to get burnt? IBT

Health and safety gone mad

The £300-a-night conference hotel (who says we're all in it together) has an interesting instruction for the Tory VIPs and others who can afford to stay in the undoubtedly plush accommodation.
The toaster in the breakfast room has a sign on it pointing out: "this toaster is for toast only".
Heaven knows what they have been sticking in there.

Chocs away

Birmingham's international conference centre has done the hacks proud with two huge glass bowls of chocolates - produced locally I am assured - strategically placed at the entrance to the press room.
The have proved popular. Within 24 hours of the conference starting a total of 18kg of the sweets had been gobbled up and the bowls were being regularly replenished .
OK, but where is the free beer and curry. Oh, wait that is at another fine meeting .....

Point scoring

Where is security when you need it. Delegates arriving at the conference centre on Sunday night were greeted by enthusiastic young men and women wearing bright blue T shirts.
All well and good, except for the fact the shirts bore the slogan "Nigel. He may have a point".
Odd. I haven't seen them since.

Printing error?
One of the popular fringe meetings has been for the Women2Win organisation which aims to do pretty much what it says on the tin .
Unfortunately, the conference guide was printed long before Brooks Newark decided to bare all on the Internet and found himself beyond the pale, let alone the fringe.
So guess who was listed as speaker for a series of meetings for the group. You guessed it, it's (presumably former) co-chair, one Brooks Newmark.