A review of the Conservative Party Conference: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Conservative Party Conference Review

With a new Leader and a new Monarch, the Conservative Party should be buoyant and bursting with energy – however, this was not the case in Birmingham during this year’s Conference, as the atmosphere was torrid and the air stale.

It was as if the Conservative Party knew that they were clinging onto power until the next General Election, rather than celebrating the new PM’s traditional, small-c conservative fiscal outlook of libertarianism, free markets, and tax cuts.

Despite the U-turn announcement made on Sunday night of scrapping the 45p tax cut, both the Chancellor and the Prime Minister’s speeches were lacklustre and provided no real announcements other than the commitment to fiscal responsibility and running a tight ship – but we don’t as yet have any more detail as to how and where these efficiencies will be happening.

Whilst this may have placated the audience in the Main Hall, at Party Conference it certainly did not provide any reassurance to the public, with polls still showing the Labour Party miles ahead for the first time in a decade, and nor to Liz Truss’ own sceptical MPs, as the Blue-on-Blue attacks at Conference continued.

MPs such as Michael Gove, who have been vocal opponents to the PM and her plans, led loud criticisms mirrored by many of the members. There were also just as many MPs that didn’t even bother to go to Conference, and quite a few of those that did wore a mixture of resentment, rage, and resignation – and this was very obvious. These are the same MPs that are expected to return to Parliament on 11th October and support the PM’s plans of deregulation and reform – which means that the Whip’s office is going to have their work cut out.

Fringe events did not have the same heavy attendance as in previous years, and the bars that were expected to be full and bursting with rambunctious activity were in fact emptying out much earlier than expected.

All of this led to the same takeaway – that the reign of the Conservative Party in Westminster is coming to an end, unless something drastic is done by the Party and the PM to keep Keir Starmer out of Number 10. The Labour Party is now showing a brand-new cohesive approach following their Conference in Liverpool, with the brandishing of a whole new policy platform that is proving to be popular.

If the Conservative Party want to turn this around, I can see five potential options:

Firstly, deliver growth – fast. The PM has set out the new driving mission of the Conservative Party to deliver ‘GROWTH GROWTH GROWTH’. It is vital that Truss delivers if she is to maintain control of her government and party. Getting the November fiscal event matters. Early signs of economic success would strengthen the PM’s position.

Secondly, leave the PM where she is, and pray for an “event” to deliver the change they need to see. Might Putin do for Truss, what Galtieri did for Thatcher?

Thirdly, successive parliamentary mutinies effectively limit Truss’ power. The PM could be forced to slow the pace of change and seek to bring more of the party’s talents, including Rishi Sunak’s supporters into government, to strengthen her parliamentary position. A more united party would have a better chance of electoral appeal.

Fourthly, the mutinies turn into a coup, with the country seeing its fifth Conservative PM in 6 years, two of which would not have been voted in by a General Election. The reset might offer an opportunity for unity and a fresh pitch to the electorate – which is something that Liz Truss has originally promised following the summer Leadership Election and is yet to deliver.

And finally, they could call a General Election, and hand the Labour Party the cost-of-living crisis, energy price struggle, and inflation (amongst other hot issues), gambling that this would minimise the period of opposition.

This Conservative Party Conference Review is produced by senior account executive, Bhav Popat. Conservative Party Activist and Member

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