Conservative Party Conference

Day 2 – 3

**Good ripples of confidence following the Tory Leader’s speech**

This morning gliding in smooth lines against the vast expanse of the sea, Bournemouth seagulls reflect the mood of the day: Michael Howard is soaring like an eagle.

Trust is at the centre of the General Election planning strategy. The Daily Telegraph debate went ahead with gusto as questions flowed from the floor – keeping an eye on regulation, taxation and immigration. Liam Fox highlighted some of our mistakes in the 1997 election. The debate swung to foxes and one voice popped up like a cuckoo in support of the fox, but it was a lone one. Bill Deedes was the acknowledged hero of the day as he arrived in an ambulance from his hospital bed where he is nursing a broken leg. Boris Johnson, who chaired the event, urged members of the panel to “get some Deedesian concision in replies” to questions. Vicki Woods spoke in favour of re-capturing the old vote – as well as re-capturing the young (Why not the whole caboodle, I asked myself?) and made some sensible points about getting more good-lookers in the shape of 30something ladies as potential MPs (a shade of the Blair babe idea?) that could do wonders in making people wake up to politics again. Alice Thomson and Matthew D’Ancona were upbeat about Tories’ hopes for the future and their “pluck and fortitude”.

Michael Howard succeeded in regaining the trust of the people by going back to his roots in a moving reference to his immigrant family origins. He said that while Blair courted a date with destiny most people are looking for a date with the dentist!

The feeling of international community is abroad here. Oodles of Chinese were mingling in the Reception hosted by the Chinese Ambassador and the Conservative Chinese Group. The event was graced with the presence of the stunning Sandra Howard. There was also a breakfast hosted by the BBC World Service reminding us of the value of global communications. At current ratings of 180 million global listeners per week the World Service (news and online) is the largest international broadcaster in the world. Surely they deserve generous financial support from the FCO? Alas, it seems that their future is under threat owing to government cutbacks.

The thunder of a Redwood and Hannan meeting now beckons …


19 thoughts on “Conservative Party Conference”

  1. Aaron Brown – there was me thinking that my spelling was bad. Sometimes I wish that Sam Johnson had never put that bloody dictionary together! Hey ho and alas must now return to to the middle ages. Regards

  2. Good blogging Melissa! Reminds me of the Vernon Duke song ‘The Sea-Gull and the Ea-Gull’, which ends with the words “You’re a bad, bad bird, but you’re the only bird in town”, (that was the Seagull, not the Ea-gull).

  3. Michael Howard: moving? Only the contents of my stomach, I’m afraid. It was cringeworthy.

  4. “Children need to know that it is not cool to use drugs: it’s stupid, it’s illegal, and it’s dangerous. ”

    Stupid and dangerous – could also apply to Cigarettes? I trust the Tories will recommend that cigs are made illegal if they came to power, if there is one thing a child can see though, it is a mixed message, which this is.

  5. Nick: Afraid I’m a little lost as to what you mean there!

    Jo: I agree that it is a bit of a mixed message, but do you think that cigarrettes should be banned?

  6. I think the Tories were wise not to take Tim Hames’s advice in the Times earlier this week. Labour are effectively offering a conservatism-lite. If the Tories merely offer the same, then the decisive factor becomes that Labour has the recent experience of governing and has Mr Blair (who, whatever anyone says against him, is a highly articulate and persuasive politician). So which is the more believable conservative party?

    Fortunately for them, the Conservative party have not gone down that route, but their spokesmen have been surprisingly forceful in saying they will tackle some of the many areas that worry the voters – even if they do not concern Mr Hames. πŸ™‚

    Since, moreover, Mr. Blair has shot his party in the foot by announcing his retirement – can anyone else hold those backbenchers in check? – maybe the Tories are now in with a chance.

  7. After Theresa Mays hypocritical speech and the Tories saying they will ban litigation against negligent teachers, whose negligence may have just killed your child, I’m sorry but hell might just have to freeze over before I vote conservative. And Howard? Entering into a f-f-f-sob competition with tearful Tony may work, I don’t know, it may be good stuff but it’s not the stuff I vote for.

    Why more 30-somethings needed? Don’t 40-somethings have anything to offer?

  8. I liked the points Mr Howard raised in his speech, altho I was dissapointed not to see tuition fees mentioned, its an important issue and a vote-winner. The cutting red-tape and paper work is a very good point, trying to get the police to come out anymore is nigh on impossible. Also the pension ideas stood out.
    It’ll definatley be a tick next to the conservatives for me next year.

  9. Aaron: Well, my rather naive theory is that you should be able to do what you want to yourself with what you’ve made or grown until the cows come home. But you’re not allowed to sell to anyone, or give to minors/vulnerable people. Sounds like it’d be impossible to regulate or police, but no more difficult than policing the situation now.

    What I don’t like is that some people feel they can say “all drugs are wrong, because they are illegal, so they must be bad”. The fact is, cigarettes are as harmful to your physical health as any other ‘smoked’ substance in those quantities, with no redeeming health qualities. Alcohol can twist your head and make you act more irrationally and irresponsibly than acid.

    Young people will want to know, where do you draw the line? Most of all, they’ll want to know “Why do you draw the line?”

  10. We should be explaining to them that we draw the line not only to try and prevent self-harm, but also to ensure the safety of others and to improve modern society.

    Then again, I’m probably slightly biased; if I had my way, we’d be banning alcohol and cigarrettes, too. πŸ˜‰

  11. Soaring like an eagle? Surely gliding like a dispossessed pigeon in search of a cohesive identity in a country where Conservatism is becoming increasingly anachronistic? Personally, I like you Boris and I like Ken Clarke (who should have been party leader), but Howard? Slightly less limp than the previous 2, but no more credible.

  12. I agree with you, Tony Sherrard. I raised my eyebrows somwhat on reading Melissa’s “soaring like an eagle” line. If she really believes that, it sums up a large part of the Tories’ problem: they just aren’t capable of seeing how cringingly bad they are. Until they do, they won’t be able to fix themselves.

    Yes, Howard is slightly less ridiculous than IDS, but his speeches this conference spoke mostly to the grass roots, not the mainstream he needs to convince.

    Melissa wrote, “Michael Howard succeeded in regaining the trust of the people by going back to his roots in a moving reference to his immigrant family origins.” Who are you kidding?! I’m not making a partisan point, it’s just a fact of political strategy that it’ll take a lot more than a sickly story read off an auto-cue to regain the public’s trust. If he ever had it in the first place.

    And you’ll also need more than some 30-something sexy ladies….For your own sake Tories, you must realise that your unpopularity lies not just in style but in substance.

    BTW, I also want to comment on Boris’s new post above, but the comment link doesn’t seem to be working. Webmaster…?

  13. Boris’ new post doesn’t have a comment box πŸ™ [Ed: thanks Amy and Koran. Now sorted – what would I do without you wonderful bloggers to keep me in line?]

  14. I must say (and it’s best to point out that I come from a similiar background to him) that the end of Howard’s speech was the only Political Speech I’ve ever heard that has moved me to tears.

  15. I cried when Neil Kinnock gave his acceptance speech on the night Labour lost in 1992. The best PM we never had.

    Talking of him…Andrew Neil asked an interesting question on the This Week sofa earlier tonight: has Michael Howard advanced the Conservative Party from its disaster even as far as Kinnock advanced Labour from its own disaster? Michael Portillo said he doesn’t know. Time will tell.

    Thanks Webmaster, for fixing the comments in good time. πŸ™‚

  16. Aaron: I think we are in agreeance. If such things as cigarettes were banned, then I would fully understand a blanket ban on all such substances. But I don’t think politicians realise how disillusioned young people are because of the amount of *hypocrisy* they see, the drugs debate being one of the most public faces of this. How will the Tories address that?

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