FleishmanHillard Public Affairs Team Live Commentary - Conservative Conference 2022

FleishmanHillard UK senior account executive Bhav Popat (2nd October 2022)

“It’s day one of Conservative Party Conference and Liz Truss’s first one as Prime Minister.

“Given the rocky start that she’s had to her premiership and the fact that it’s her opportunity to now rally her supporters following a fiscal event that did not have the impact that she wanted.

“It will be interesting to see how she unites the party following her promises made in the leadership election.

“On Wednesday, we’ve got her big speech where it’s her first opportunity to address all of the Party members and with MPs, Party members and many other people not agreeing with many things that she’s said and the outcome of that fiscal event, it will be good to see if she can manage to do so.”

FleishmanHillard UK account manager Adam Newman (2nd October 2022)

“I’ve just left the main hall at Conservative Party Conference where the first set of speeches of this Conference took place.

“It was an interesting response, it was quite an empty room and quite quiet when the Cabinet walked in, though a bit louder when the Prime Minister herself walked in.

“But looking at the Conference as a whole, there’s lots of different conversations going on about lots of different policy areas.

“Levelling up is coming up, housing, I went to a fringe event on that this afternoon, but people aren’t really talking about what people on the outside are talking about.

There’s no talk about the economy, in the housing talk there was nothing about mortgage rates. People are kind of in their own bubbles, they’re happy to regroup after the leadership race of the summer. But they’re not particularly enthusiastic to talk about the economy, and their chances, especially when looking at the polls right now.

“To people here, slightly less enthused as you’d expect them to be, but these are issues that they’re going to have to confront as the Conference goes on later in the week.”

FleishmanHillard UK associate director Tim Harding (3rd October 2022)

“In contrast to the air of optimism and confidence we saw from the Labour Party conference last week, this year’s Conservative Party Conference almost has an atmosphere of nervousness and caution to it. I think the announcement of the U-turn on tax policy, announced last night, is still ringing in the ears of many delegates.

“We’ve been hearing from Ministers today about the experience and the skills from their former jobs they’re going to bring to their new remits, but not a great detail about the policy that they’re going to bring to their new departments.

“So, I think now the challenge for the Prime Minister is to inject some levels of enthusiasm, some levels of confidence back into the Party that they can bring forward one conference season is over, Parliament restarts, and they can start their policy agenda on the front foot.”

Director, partner & EMEA lead for Food, Agribusiness and Beverage at FleishmanHillard, Liam McCloy (4th October 2022)

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng, delivered his address to Conference this afternoon.

“He said that Government should get out of the way and allow business to flourish. And that when risk-takers are held back, so is Britain. Well, arguably, over the last ten days, the Government has been getting in the way and taking risks, and Britain has been held back as a consequence.

“It was an assured speech, though, from the Chancellor, and when he entered to the hall, it was lukewarm, perhaps muted applause and when he left, it was loud and people were standing on their feet. There is no doubt that the Chancellor has the aptitude, and perhaps the resilience after this morning’s broadcast rounds, to get on with the job, but so far it’s too early to say, but this conference was certainly buoyed by the rhetoric that he delivered this afternoon.”

FleishmanHillard UK junior account executive Sophie Fischer (4th October 2022)

“I’ve just left an event here at Tory Party Conference with Jo Gideon MP, who chairs the APPG on the National Food Strategy and Henry Dimbleby, who led the independent review into national food strategy. Given the current political climate and speculation that the Government may be set to drop the forthcoming restrictions on products considered to be high in fat, salt, and sugar, this was a particularly interesting event.

“The experts acknowledged the fact that tackling obesity was going to take a more holistic approach and it wasn’t going to be fixed with a one-size-fits-all approach such as the HFSS restrictions. The experts also alluded to the fact that the HFSS restrictions may not have as much of an impact as we initially thought they would.

“At a time when obesity strategy has never been lower on the Government’s political agenda, only time will tell if the Government is willing to work with industry to develop this holistical approach, or whether obesity strategy will simply be kicked into the long grass.”

FleishmanHillard UK Account Director Charley Sambridge (October 4th 2022)

“It’s the third and the penultimate day here at Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

“Rumours continue to swell over potential further U-turns to come, following the Government’s financial statement.

“As you may have seen, the news agenda is being led today by criticism from within the Party over the Government’s planned changes to the benefits system.

“Later today, we’ll hear from key cabinet Ministers, including the Home, Foreign, and Health Secretary, who all will be keen to demonstrate the Government’s credibility and put their flagship growth plan back on a stable footing.

“Yet question marks remain over whether this Government and the Party’s leadership has the credibility to carry this out.”

FleishmanHillard UK associate director Charley Green (4th October 2022)

“So, it’s Day Three of Conservative Party Conference here in Birmingham and I have to say that the mood is in complete contrast to that at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool last week.

“That was filled with energy, with positivity, but I think the mood here is decidedly mixed. I do think that the ‘Mini Budget’ has somewhat overshadowed the event with Liz’s U-turn yesterday on the 45p income rate not helping matters. If anything, it’s created more noise for the media.

“Secondly, the thing that’s really noticeable is the lack of unity. This is a Party which isn’t together in any sense of the word.

“You’ve had Penny Mordaunt criticising her own party’s comms, you’ve had Ministers at fringes making up policy on the hoof, and you’ve got Ministers not towing the Number 10 line. This all ahead of Liz Truss’ speech tomorrow on the final day of Conference, and it remains to be seen whether she’s able to unite her Ministers and bring her Party together.”

FleishmanHillard UK head of public affairs Tim Snowball (5th October 2022)

“We’ve just emerged from the main hall where Liz Truss has made her speech as leader of the Conservative Party.

“A message to the country is it’s ‘time to get Britain moving’, and she’s reaffirmed her intention to do that through a low tax, low regulation economic approach. The problem is, when you become Prime Minister through an internal leadership election, not a general election, your mandate for delivering radical change is actually relatively thin.

“The humbling reality that Liz Truss has been faced with this week is that she currently lacks the support of the country, of the business community and even many in this conference and in her own cabinet.

So, I think if we look forward from this conference, the next two years look pretty grim, we’re going to see more uncertainty, more radical drives for change that don’t quite get to their endpoint, and more U-turns of the sort we’ve seen this week. The problem is that’s exactly the opposite political environment that business needs to deliver the growth that Liz Truss so badly needs to see.”

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