Well, we are in the period when all the major political parties are holding their conferences – their constituency delegates from all round the country swan – off to some seaside resort or other important centre to air their, sometimes obscure, views of what the party should do: the Greens –who pretend to be a major player – used lovely Brighton; sad old UKIP was only able to book a Hotel in London (couldn’t afford the coast of course!); the LibDems bored the pants of the Scots in Glasgow; Labour also enjoyed the facilities of Brighton and managed to just avoid Noise Abatement problems; and the rich Conservatives will glide up in their posh cars to savour the delights of Manchester next week!
It all costs a lot of money of course (which could be better spent!), but that is their choice isn’t it, and at least it is not our money they are spending!). So are we happy just to let them get on with it? NO not at all! The reason is that there are ‘consequences’ that affects the rest of us.
Not least of these is the impact that these gatherings have on the media, and therefore the population in general. While these conferences are on, there is a media frenzy to cover every tedious minute and insignificant speech.
Accordingly, the national Newspaper front pages, as well as many inside pages, pump out spurious details of what went on, political comments galore, and what is expected to go on next! You can’t turn on the TV without having to watch the proceedings played out endlessly, accompanied with inane comments from all and sundry, including highly paid presenters and very important senior commentators [one would hope all this stuff would at least give us all some respite for the blight of the unending plethora of programmes on houses, auctions, and cooking – but no, no such luck, they still manage to fit those mind numbing transmissions into the schedule!]. You get no respite on the Radio either – the normal content goes out the window to be replaced by the ‘latest’ minute by minute news from the latest conference!
Then of course there is also the apparent compunction of the political parties to misuse their conferences to try to grab the attention of the public: the Government will use their party meeting to announce major policy changes for their administration (which are ‘supposed’ to be announced first in the parliament, so why does the Speaker allow them to get away with it year after year?); the Opposition will undoubtedly use theirs to rubbish the government, as well as make promises (sometimes unrealistic) of what they intend to do if the get into power next time; the Others, the no-hopers will simply dream of what crumbs will drop from the table of the big two!
So what came out of the conferences so far?
The Greens was a damp squib so nothing there then!
Eurosceptic UKIP had a disastrous outcome of their big publicity drive at their London. None of us really know what went on regarding their party’s policies because their rogue MEP Godfrey Bloom stole all the headlines by making a silly joke about the women in his audience all being ‘sluts’ (and results in him leaving the party!).
The LibDems do was a sickening experience of gratuitous self congratulation – they tried to convince themselves that they were very courageous in going into coalition government with the Tories and that it was nothing to do with the chauffer driven Jags and the other trappings of power.
They boasted how they had stopped the Tories from doing the worst things they wanted to do – ignoring the fact that they couldn’t have done ANY of it without the support of the LibDems!
They fully demonstrated that they have sold their principles for twenty pieces of silver. They kidded themselves that they are not going to be wiped out at the next election and that their leader Clegg will not loose his own seat in a student orientated constituency.
Perhaps worse of all they have, at a time of severe austerity, announced they have got Tory agreement to spend half a billion pounds on providing school meals to families who can afford to do that themselves – they falsely claim that this will improve children’s performance (for which there is no evidence at all!). It is rumoured that this spend is in return for allowing the Tories to spend ANOTHER half a billion pounds on married couples tax relief. What a farce.
[The only person to emerge with any credibility from theirevent was Vince Cable – but it is an ongoing puzzle as to why he is still in the Government as Business Secretary when blatantly his heart isn’t in this Coalition!].
Labour entered their own arena in a difficult position – having lost recently most of their lead in the polls, being headed by a leader deeply unpopular in the Country (perhaps unfairly), and their party not trusted to run the economy (despite the mess being made by Tory Chancellor George Osborne). They HAD to pull some policy rabbits out of the bag and find a way of presenting leader Ed Miliband as a strong decisive character.
Hence we get Miliband making major populist policy announcements – like the ‘coup de grace’ freezing energy charges (provoking the expected squealing by the culprits and the usual wild scaremongering about the possible consequences), a proposal to give 16 year olds the vote (despite most of them being an apolitical lot!), possible cancellation of the unpopular HS2 (which will cost perhaps 80 billion pounds and cut journey times only by minutes!), a pledge to keep to the Coalition’s spending plans for the 2015/16 finical year, a plan to make large companies train an apprentice for every foreign (non-EU) worker taken on, distancing themselves from ‘New Labour’ & the toxic Tony Blair (the best Tory Prime Minister the Conservatives never had!), and the promise to repeal the dreadful so called ‘bedroom tax’, et al.
This strategy is not without risk – Oppositions like to keep their powder dry, regarding policy, until they publish their manifesto just before the General Election. Labour’s opponents now have 18 months to try to trash Labour’s proposals – or even steal some and negate others!
[Of course, sacked ex spin doctor for Labour PM Gordon Brown, Damian McBride tried to rain on their parade by publishing a book shamelessly admitting how he did his Civil Service job by telling wicked lies and unfairly undermining Cabinet ministers].
So what can we expect from the Conservatives next week?
Certainly a positive spin on everything, including the things that clearly have gone wrong! They are a party in denial. They won’t accept that they have screwed-up. After 3 years, the economy MAY be about to pick (and that is not by any means certain yet) – the longest period of recovery in over 100 years! And the Tories are bragging about it, and saying their Plan A worked (despite their massive unplanned borrowing, and their total failure to meet their plan for economic recovery in the current parliament!). You can expect smooth David Cameron to put on a flashy show – he won’t be under pressure from Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls so he won’t get red in the face, angry and flustered amongst his own troops!
Oh yes there will be further policy announcements and giveaways to big business and the idle rich – so watch this space!
Well, the Tory conference starts assembling today and starts tomorrow 28th September 2013, but it has already been announced that there will be a tax-break for married couples costing us over half a billion pounds. This rumoured move was flatly denied by the Conservatives at the time of the LibDem conference (but then again we have got used to the Tory lies!). There is nothing fundamentally wrong with such a proposal – BUT the timing stinks! This massive give-away at this time of enforced austerity is scandalous – all families need help not just the few better off. The poorest have been hardest hit by the Coalition’s austerity measures, and this move will NOT help them at all. And of course it is timed to come in BEFORE the next Election – it will be only one of their pre-election bribes to try and win votes!
It is only day one but the public attention grabbing has started – the Torys are pulling forward their giveaeay on houses for the better off. People (not first time buyers trying to get on the property ladder!) are from next week allowed to buy houses costing £600,000 with only a minimal deposit (5%), when the lenders’s judgement is that these people need to put up 25% to cover the risk! We are going to carry the risk instead. They say this will not cause another housing bubble that brought everthing crashing down before, but logic dictates that if you artificially increase demand without corresondingly increasing supply (which the government is NOT) then this will simply push up prices (and the Busness Secretary Vince Cable has warned them). But this is simply another bribe to try and collect house owner votes.