Can someone tell me what this Tory conference is all about?
Posted on 4 October 2011 | 1:10pm
For various reasons I have seen no news coverage and read no newspaper reports of the Tory conference since Sunday morning. This has not been a deliberate snub to one of the two ruling parties, just the result of other things getting in the way.
So today I spent a little time wandering around the web trying to find out what I’ve been missing. I have ended up less clear about what the Tories are hoping for than when I started. As I blogged the other day, the weekend press was full of conflicting signals about what they wanted this conference to be about. There have been more of those since the delegates gathered in Manchester.
Commentators seem to think George Osborne will have been hacked off to be wiped out on the news by Amanda Knox, a bit like OJ Simpson once almost did to Tony Blair. But actually, my sense of the Chancellor is that he doesn’t mind having a lowish profile, and from what I have read of his speech, he would have been struggling to dominate the agenda if Ms Knox’s release had been delayed a day or two. Still no clear sign of the growth plan that many people and businesses in the country would like to hear.
Boris Johnson seems to have gone down well, in a celeb kind of way. Ken Clarke did well to get out alive given the gap in his view on prisons and that of the bulk of his audience. Theresa May was the darling of Tories on twitter for a while with her rant at the Human Rights Act, but deserves to be taken apart over the almost immediate revelation that her claim that an illegal was allowed to stay in the UK because of a cat was utter nonsense. Michael Gove will tell everyone that schools used to be terrible and Andrew Lansley will say that all these eminent medics who say his reforms are harming patient care are not nearly as eminent or knowledgeable as he is.
I think I have covered the main points for now. Many thanks to all who responded to my plea on twitter to be told what the central message of the conference was. It was reassuring to learn that so many others shared my bafflement. I assume David Cameron’s speech will make clear the thus far elusive strategic purpose of the week. Or maybe it won’t.