Posts Tagged ‘Conservative conference’

Cameron breaches Labour’s Maginot line

10/10/2012, 03:10:56 PM

by David Talbot

The battle lines for 2015 have begun to be drawn. As Labour’s foot soldiers marched to the beat towards the feted middle ground last week in Manchester, its gun batteries trained their aim onto unfamiliar territory with audacious talk of a Labour “one nation” prime minister. The Tories, retreating in disarray, have receded to their ideological redoubt, and Labour skirmishers have at last engaged with hostile middle England in a first serious advance on the mission to Downing Street.

Or so the Labour hierarchy would have you believe. But they have made a serious tactical error.

The infamous Maginot Line was a fortified defensive line built by the French to protect the Franco-German border. It was a formidable defensive structure, and a feat of military engineering and strategising far beyond the era in which it was built. It lies between 12 to 16 miles in depth and stretched from the Swiss Alps in the south to the Channel in the north. The defensive structure was completed after ten years, just before the outbreak of war, and is estimated in today’s money to have cost the equivalent of nearly €50 trillion.

This is the comparable psychological position the Labour party are now staking their ground upon. The party’s grey beards have assumed that, much like the French army, the Conservatives would become unsteady under fire and surrender without trace when grapeshot thinned the lines. This is a first-class misjudgement. The Conservatives are headed through the Ardennes.

Miliband stole the Tories’ one-nation clothes precisely because David Cameron had forgotten to look after them. The Labour leader was executing a classic New Labour move straight from the Tony Blair’s playbook. But unlike the Blair years the Tories will not move ever-rightwards to placate the rabid tenancy and pander to their core. Cameron, frankly, is far too astute for that. Revitalising the “compassionate conservative” model that launched his leadership some seven years ago, the Conservative leader resolutely refused to fall into Labour’s lazy caricature. Moreover, he fought back and punched through Labour’s lines. Tough language on Labour’s Achilles heel – the deficit – will cut through to the nation’s conscience far more than any high-minded seminar on a 19th century Disraelian ideal.


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It’s been a dreadful conference for the Tories but they will still leave Birmingham happy

10/10/2012, 07:59:31 AM

by Atul Hatwal

One wonders if the Tories can see how their conference has looked to the rest of Britain. Once upon a time in the mid-2000s they used it as a platform to speak to the country. It was an opportunity to demonstrate how they had changed. There was talk of voting blue to go green, civil liberties and hugging hoodies.

The rank and file might have been unhappy but the message to the general public couldn’t have been clearer: “we are not the same old Tories, we have changed, we live in the modern world.”

These last few days have been like looking at the photo negative of days gone by: cutting workers’ rights, slashing benefits and battering burglars.

The pre-briefing about this conference focused on the Tories new magic word “striver.” In itself it’s a good idea; aspiration and hard-work will never be out of political fashion.

But the Tories seem to have got confused.

Tough messages on law and order and benefits might be perennially popular but without some balance in other areas like civil liberties or the economy it all begins to look decidedly familiar. More red meat vicar?

It’s as if the Tory political managers have given up on ever returning to those halcyon days when the words “progressive” and “Conservative” were routinely used in the same sentence. They have meekly accepted their slide back into the comfortable embrace of the past.

For the Tories, uniquely of all of the parties, the only audience that matters at their conference is not out in the country, but sat in the hall.


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A Labour activist at Tory conference, by Amanda Ramsay

08/10/2010, 04:00:10 PM

Tory activists flocked to their annual political pilgrimage in Birmingham this week, for David Cameron’s first party conference as Prime Minister. Despite 13 years of opposition leading to a coalition rather than a Conservative government, this was a big moment for Tory activists. But for a paid-up member of the Labour party, the prospect of attending my first ever Tory conference filled me with dread. Politics is nothing if not tribal and the prospect felt so alien.

Once in Birmingham, the atmosphere was much the same as the intoxicating buzz of most Labour conferences in recent memory, other than 2010 perhaps, the leadership election having engulfed proceedings. However, there were some distinct differences about the Conservative version.

For starters, the exhibition itself had a bizarre array of interest groups, hard to imagine at a Labour conference: the British fur trade association, countryside alliance and Carlton club to name but three. Harvey Nichols also had a stand as did Crombie, offering made-to-measure clothing for ladies and gents. I don’t think we have a Harvey Nicks at our conference. (more…)

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Kevin Meagher calms down after Conservative conference

08/10/2010, 11:58:41 AM

OK, my fists are now unfurled. I have emptied my soul of expletives and invective. Bad thoughts have passed. The rage has subsided. The television, though battered and bruised, will live on. I’m like this every October. For one week, my usually ultra-rational impulses give way to a visceral tribalism. Undiluted exposure to the Conservative party conference does that to me. It elicits a physical reaction as a mixture of loathing and, well, more loathing, rises in my throat.

It’s not one thing in particular. It’s the all-embracing awfulness of it. It’s the platitudinous “debates” – grainy facsimiles of actual democratic discussion. It’s the perfunctory applause and standing ovations (an unfortunate habit that Labour has adopted). It’s the lame jokes. The wretched, simplistic homilies with their sneery nouveau riche morality.

It goes without saying that the Conservative conference is a platform for banality. But it provides endless visual and aural stimulation to someone looking to have his basic political orientation rebooted once a year. That is important. Politics is not only knowing what you are for; it is knowing what you are against too. (more…)

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