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The amazing adventures of young Archie Manners

Richard Moss | 10:02 UK time, Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Archie Manners

As befitting his skills as a hypnotist, 17-year-old Archie Manners has bewitched the Conservative Conference. Picture from Richard Greenly Photography

He's an unlikely star, and an even less likely champion for the North, but 17-year-old schoolboy Archie Manners does seem to have made an impact at the Conservative Conference.

Archie made people sit up and take notice on Monday when he managed to ask a question from the floor.

Now although the teenager hails from Hampshire, he has become immersed in the affairs of the North East.

A family connection, and an enthusiasm for politics bagged him a job as an intern with Berwick Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan during the election.

Throwing himself in with gusto, he tramped the streets of Northumberland, knocking on dozens of doors, and making the case for the Conservatives.

He also played a part in helping the aspiring MP's ongoing campaign to get the A1 dualled.

Clearly, Archie has gone native, because when his big chance came he chose to take that battle to the conference floor.

In pinstripe suit and tie, Archie unleashed an articulate and precisely-worded question, about the economic problems caused by the poor state of the A1 between Morpeth and the Scottish border.

He asked what the panel of assembled ministers could do to dual it and "throw off the shackles of the public sector and stimulate the private sector in the North East."

Unfortunately, he couldn't extract a promise to dual the A1 from Transport Minister Theresa Villiers, although she confirmed again that the Government were aiming to reclassify the road as one of national importance.

But he had managed to rattle the cage of Transport Secretary Philip Hammond who told Archie that the Coalition's plans for a North-South high speed rail link could make a huge difference to the North East economy in the future (albeit quite a distant future!)

Full marks to Archie then, as actually that's been almost the only time so far the North East's had a mention in the main conference hall.

And he certainly seemed to capture the imaginations of some.

BBC Five Live Drive presenter Peter Allen was so struck by his intervention that he invited him onto his programme.

There we learned of Archie's passion for politics and skill at magic and hypnotism (he runs his own small business selling his skills in his spare time).

And we also found out that he'd like to try his hand at journalism before perhaps becoming an MP in later life.

It became their story of the day and you can hear the interview here.

So perhaps, it might just be worth holding onto this early footage of Archie Manners. He already has his own blog.

In the meantime though, it's back to school for him tomorrow.

But he might not be done with the North East yet.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan is hoping he'll head to Durham University. Then she hopes the region can claim him permanently.


Huw Edwards

Huw Edwards - almost as grumpy as me

Conference season then is almost up. We're all waiting for the PM's speech to bring the curtain down.

Those that have followed me on Twitter this week will know that this one hasn't been the most comfortable for this poor hack.

My hotel is handily positioned next to a main road, which makes you feel like you're sleeping in the central reservation of a motorway.

I know, I know, your heart bleeds.

The one comfort I have is knowing that far more celebrated BBC luminaries such as Huw Edwards have also been holed up there.

Incidentally, I have come into close contact with the 10 O'Clock News' main man this week as I appear to have had an upgrade in the BBC newsroom.

I am the only regional political editor sat amongst the network news team, so have been sharing a table with the aforementioned Huw and on occasion the fragrant Emily Maitlis.

I fear it's only a temporary moment in the sun, but I shall bask in it while I can.

It's quite encouraging though to know that Huw gets as grumpy as I do when the deadline begins to loom.


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