Conservative Conference Report: Day 3

The main conference floor has been a bit dull this year, but of course it is hard to announce major policy successes when the Commons are so deadlocked that nothing new can be done. It is a rally of the faithful, but a jar to see some of the faithless there too; the whipless ones. That said, there is more to Conservatism than one policy and when Brexit is over and done (in four and a half weeks, we hope, desperately) then we can re-examine who our friends are.

Off the main floor is where the real activity is. I cannot count the number of side meetings and fringe events there are: ‘fringe’ is a misnomer as I am convinced more good policy is worked out here than anywhere else, and more daft policy too.

The policy announcements we have heard often involved spending a lot of other people’s money. That is a bad sign. What else do you say though? ‘Less money for the feckless!’ Maybe not. Then there is the idea of longer prison sentences, which seems to be backed by no evidence that it will do any good and might be meant just as a dig at David Gauke, who had a more sensible policy. (He’s about, by the way, whipless but waiting.) Still, give Priti Patel her hour in the sun. Sajiv Javid suddenly speaking Punjabi went down well (yes; I’m sure they are very proud of you.)

It all feels like marking time. It is not even a pre-general election rally.

Back to the bars and side rooms, there are keen, enthusiastic councillors and ex-councillors (been there, mate) all anxious to talk at anyone who will listen, hoping they happen to speak to someone influential, and others who actually are influential even if I have never heard of them: I never know anyone and I tend to be left out of the circle.

So, few positive promises. A deadlocked parliament is not such a bad thing usually as it means less opportunity for well-meaning or publicity seeking members to stick their big feet in and get in the way of those of us trying to lead our lives. However after so many decades of idiotic intervention of that sort, some corrective is needed, and that needs a working Parliament.

One diversion has been logging the jokes from the podium, good and bad. I should spare the Lancastrian blushes of one of the most able and promising ministers who dropped the worst joke so far. We’ve a long way to go yet

Maybe the Conference needs a stand-up comedian. Ah – but his is the keynote speech.

Now I almost wish that I were actually at the conference.

Books

By Boris Johnson:

Margaret Thatcher

By David Cameron

By Tim Bale

Brexit

Others

By Rory Stewart:

Author: AlexanderTheHog

A humble scribbler who out of my lean and low ability will lend something to Master Hobbes

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