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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.

  • Nick Soye

    As bemused as the next man!!  Quite simply a circus act, with Boris on the trapeze, May the tightrope walker and Osborne the juggler.  I see that Sky have just reported that Theresa May is now referring back to her notes and information as the cat reference was false.  Let’s see whether the circus Ring Master Cameron will conclude the show and make it clear.

  • It appears to me that this conference is just further evidence of the Conservatives forgetting that they are no longer in opposition. There’s more to governance than joking about the previous administration. Time for joined-up thinking and actual policy.

  • MicheleB

    There seems to be a lot more of (bound to be popular) stuff about reducing the property of councils and making private debt become more public debt.

    New ideas re loans to small businesses and any defaults will be owned by the Govt rather than the Govt-owned banks that are refusing to lend; did I summarise that OK?

    Orange Smoothie Shapps on about council homes to be sold off and private companies building the replacement social housing stock; no mention of doing so in the same locality so a council’s people can stay in jobs they already have, or creating new jobs near the new housing.  Very telling personal histories on R4 at lunchtime about the last time round with all this …… people buying only to sell ….. no mention of the fact that the early years of paying a mortgage are very much like renting anyway …. paying only interest and hardly biting in to the loan itself. 

    More slash and burn from Thatcher’s children

  • Andy Ellis

    I’m just can’t wait for the relaxation of credit for my small business.  I’m seeing the bank on Friday.  Very upbeat *irony alert*

  • Chris lancashire

    In answer to your headline question – same as the Labour and LibDem conferences – absolutely nothing. At least absolutely nothing of any significance in Planet Real World. These conferences are for assorted geeks and spinners and if you’re baffled by the Conservative conference I assume you are equally baffled by the other two -you ought to be.

  • Anonymous

    isn’t it the usual?
    all about drawing the Rovers, Rollers and BMWs into a pow-wow circle and reassuring themselves that they will all be able to keep all their money for ever…?it doesn’t appear to be much to do with any new ideas – its Vista lite not Windows 8

  • Aren’t we wonderful! (The Tories on the Tories – not a view expressed by Myself or the owner of this blog).

  • marymot

     It’s partly about the Council tax freeze. Quoted average (Band D) monthly saving of £6 means Band A occupants will get  a saving of £3(approx.) and Band H will get a saving of £9.  1 family will get enough for an exra bag of potatoes each week perhaps and another enough for a nice extra steak.
    No change there then —- as the tories say we’re all in this together!  
    By the way the Scottish government say the average family in Scotland will save £1200 over 5 years or £20 per month. Someone’s calculations must be wrong surely especially when average council tax is higher in England.  


    Yes, it’s about trying to justify the poor economic decisions of the light-weight economic ideas of Cameron-Osborne and a bit of Salmond slapping.

    Iroonically, Salmond told them a long time ago that the cuts should be slow and less deep and spending on government projects to kick start the economy  was necessary.  They are just coming round to that reality now after having spent a year accomplishing very very little.

  • MicheleB

    Boris was performing as Mayor in Welling (or did the invite describe it as ahem Bexleyheath?) last night.

    Knowing a very proactive someone that lives down there and fancies the pants orff ‘im I’m surprised he reached Manchester today!

  • Why aren’t they discussion the rapidly looming serious possibility that Israel are planning a bloodbath in Palestine whatever the outcome of the UN vote?

  • lebourg

    I agree with you completely. In return will you remind me what New Labour did re social housing, affordable housing and waiting lists for housing in their 13 years?

    Until a government, in the state of housing emergency where we are now, decides to deny farmers and developers huge profits by compulsory purchase of land, we are not scratching the surface of the problem.

    In rural areas, close to towns and cities, agricultural land may be worth £5,000 an acre. With planning permission and getting say 15 houses per acre it becomes worth, at £40k to £100k per plot a king’s ransom. This may yield the landownwer £500k to £1m or more per acre.

    If the landowner was given £5,000 a plot, up to £100,000 an acre, proper affordable housing could be achieved at less than £80,000 to £100,000 per property.

    Within months unemployment would be greatly cut in a social housing boom, with consequent manufacturing stimulus.

    The losers would be the developers with land banks carefully stashed and paid out slowly, and those who have followed the get rich quick formula of buy to let, at inflated rentals to those unable to afford a  mortgage. Big Deal!

  • Ehtch

    This tory conference is like as one for a bunch estate agents getting together – nothing substantial being said of any importance. And this nonsense about a cat and an alledged illegal immigrant seems a load of furballs, and just said in order to play to this particular type of crowd present there.

  • Whatifwhatif

    Given the prelude to the whimsy about someone saved from deportation by their having a cat, words to the effect of  ‘believe it or not but I checked this and it’s true’ I wonder (and doubt) whether May is having a first acquaintance with schadenfreude?

  • MicheleB

    …….. via KC’s off-message jumping on her as it were. 

  • Anonymous

    Like AC, I’ve not been following it, but a brief immersion can be sufficient.  I picked up the Evening Standard on the way home and read about May’s cat shtick and how Cameron would be tougher on the jobless, making them take jobs with a 90 minute-commute like other decent people.  The unemployed would also have to spend about five hours each day looking for a job (though wouldn’t it need to be longer given the current economic climate?).  

    But I can’t say any of it was news to me.  The most interesting thing was a short piece by Anne McElvoy, explaining that Boris Johnson pledged to protect Londoners against cuts in police.  This is Boris Johnson, member of the party currently in office.

  • MicheleB

    Best of British Andy 🙂
    My brother’s also trying.

  • Anonymous

    I was watching Newsnight last night and the audience of Conservative women gave me the shudders. Lots of little Thatcher wannabes lined up in neat rows, a truly awful sight.

  • Olli Issakainen

    The Tories have a clear message.
    They only care about banks, big business and top 10% of earners.
    George Osborne does not have any plan for growth because he believes it is up to central banks and private sector to provide it.
    David Cameron says it is time to pay debts.
    Why is Britain´s national debt then growing every year during this parliament?
    The Tory-led government will overspend by £300bn between now and 2015.
    Mr Osborne claimed that he will not borrow more to spend, but has already borrowed £46bn more than the forecast.
    Why is Mr Cameron claiming that his plan “will work”.
    It stopped working a year ago. Britain needs growth of 3% to plan A to work, but currently growth is only 1.1%.
    Next year it will be even less.
    It is irresponsible to promise a better future for Britain.
    Economic power is moving to Asia.
    Britain will be in depression for at least five years.
    It will take until 2031 to recover from the lost output. Banks have caused a damage of £5tr.
    Ageing population will cost £50bn to Britain.
    It has been said that David Cameron is more popular than Ed Miliband.
    This must be because of his many achievements in politics. Curiously enough none of these immediately springs to mind.
    After the next general election Mr Cameron will have plenty of time in his hands to write his memoirs titled The Big Society and Me… 

  • MicheleB

    My post was about a Govt that is

    – preparing the way for another round of asset stripping against councils, making it easier for their properties to be sold off (likely to be against their and most locals’ wills) at discount to tenants and their lenders < note the 'and their lenders'? - making plans that will need SMEs to have expertise in banking methods so's to understand the new type of loans they will in future be applying for from new bodies that will be guaranteed by Govt ..... by Govt!   MORE public sector responsibility and risk being passed to Govt whether we like it or not (and while we still part-own the extant banks anyway for pete's sake). Ergo: extant wealth being sold off over councillors' heads and future risks being guaranteed by Govt (and through them down to councils rather than banks).

  • MicheleB

    I was right; she had the bare-faced cheek to say the essence of her little rant was true.  Yeah right.

    To think some of these Tories actually claim to be god-fearing (while all claim to being superior).  May is the daughter of a vicar fgs!

  • Ehtch

    Agreed Tauntoncider – that was the most ludicrous Newsnight I have seen in a long while. I had “us wimmin” still ringing in my head this morning. Let’s start a campaign for an “us fellas” Newsnight edition sometime, but not of the blue variety predominantly, but something more inclusive.

    Yes, last night’s Newsnight was barking, and that interview with Boris just summed it up – he had Paxo in stitches as per usual by the end. Good entertainment again from Boris, but a little cuckoo to consider any of his political judgements. Him comparing society to a rundown beeb camera in front of him especially – he’s got something missing upstairs, to state the obvious.

    Yes, it was an “us wimmin” and an “us Lahndan” Newsnight edition it was.

  • Ehtch

    Paxo v. Boris, part n., from last night’s Newsnight if you missed it. Great entertainment;

  • Whatifwhatif

    Perhaps because it’s something for the whole Govt to discuss rather than one part of it claiming some (fake) moral high ground driven by senseless over-emoting?

    To my mind it’s not the time for bulls or bullesses in china shops; note I resisted using ‘FFS’

    No less than three leaders that are crucial to this subject are up for re-election in the next few months.  Bear in mind too who owns much of the broadsheet media and controls what many read and can learn. 

    Try to stop acting as if all of this has just hit you in the face and hasn’t been happening for bloody years.

    I would suggest you reading the R&E boards of the BBC but the likes of Rosie in Jerusalem have caused their closure.

    Try to pretend you understand that some responsible people might actually be sublimating their own wishes for NOW, especially as so many of them have children who will inherit this **** if it doesn’t get sorted out but who know it has to be done beautifully/perfectly, not in the hole-y and guilt-ridden cum opportunistic way the plan was hatched in ’47.

    As DS has reminded us, Semites lived on that land for yonks before Abraham had his handy hallucination, remember that until ’47 people of many religions lived together in cosmopolitan Palestine, know that many of the Jewish survivors of those days also protest about the Zionist invasion on their land and the IDF’s activities. 

    ………………. sigh

  • MicheleB

    ……………..  whoaaaa I forgot to mention my other irritant …. the claiming/usurping/transfer of meaning of the word ‘Semite’.

    Along with that of the word ‘defamation’ it underlines that the ADL is NOT about anti-Semitism at all (or not about all of it).  If it was it would be active on behalf of all Semites.