Sunday 11 October 2009

Conference Season

Another party conference season over. On balance, a clear win for the Conservatives – as shown by the opinion polls. But I still worry about complacency and underestimating the size of swing required.

I think there were four good things for the Conservatives:
- They started to show they would be serious about the public sector deficit, and distinguished between cutting administrative costs and front line costs (why does the MoD for example have as many people as there are servicemen?);
- They did not implode over Europe;
- Cameron’s speech highlighted the fact that Labour has failed a generation of people stuck in poverty, and that Conservatives want to make things better; to repeat once more: every Labour Government has left office with unemployment higher than when they came in. They fail their people. Continuously.
- Nothing too much went wrong so the faithful will have left enthused for the seven or so months left before the election. But I did like this fake diary of Samantha Cameron’s week.

There were two bad things:
- They have had to start dripping out policy. This means their ideas will probably be stolen.
- The Conservative message - big Government doesn’t work, people should be encouraged to take more responsibility for their lives - hasn’t quite gelled with all the public. But at the end of the day, if the voters want another five years of Labour then so be it. At least it means Labour will have to get to grips with the economy and to take responsibility for what they have sown.

There was one good thing for Labour:
- It really didn’t go very well; there will be no complacency and rather like Avis in the 60s: they will try harder.

There were two bad things:
- It was demotivating for party members. Nothing good happened, lots of MPs didn’t go. They announced lots of initiatives but as I said before – why have they not implemented them before, why wait 12 years? It just all seemed flat. Even without The Sun’s intervention.
- Brown did not come across as a leader with ideas to cope with the present situation. He is still talking a generation ago. He talks about himself as though he has led an economic recovery: I don’t like him, but I suspect that unlike Blair he is honest and has principles and he believes what he says. And in some ways that is even more scary than if he was lying.

The Lib Dem conference was three weeks ago and to be honest I can barely remember it. It didn’t go well: they couldn't decide if they wanted to be more left than right, they didn’t stamp their presence on the electorate and in some ways – because of clear tensions between Clegg, Cable and the rest – it made them appear more divided than normal. If only this had really happened.

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