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Land Of Hope And Tory...Conference

David Blake looks back at the Conservative Conference

Written by . Published on October 7th 2013.

Land Of Hope And Tory...Conference

SITTING in a greasy spoon 200m away from Manchester Central but twenty minutes after David Cameron’s culminating speech on the closing day of the Conservative Party Conference seemed as good a place as any to gather the general consensus of its party members.

Dave’s overriding message: We’re doing well but not quite finished yet, we’re still cleaning up the mess that Labour left so don’t let them come back and cock it all up.

The spoon was doing a roaring trade, “It’s been hectic”, a café employee hurriedly spouted, “as soon as someone finishes a big speech they all seem to pile in here for a cup of tea and to mull it over.”

The place certainly held more of a buzz than you’d expect on any given Wednesday afternoon. Bewildered builders from the Central Library project wandered over, dusty, dishevelled and ever so slightly perturbed by the suited majority and received pronunciation suddenly occupying their café.


“I thought it was forward thinking and very well delivered”, said Thomas as he tucked into his full English, a Tory party member for over twenty years.

But what of all this ‘land of opportunity’ and ‘our dreams’ guff? Is it genuine, or just teeth-aching Americanised catchphrase rhetoric?

“Well yes, these conferences naturally possess their fair share of marketing sound bites, just look at all that ‘we can do better than this’ Red Ed was spouting in Brighton. But I think the PM's message was rather rousing, especially his reaction to the Russian Minister's attack on...”

The rest of Thomas’ Tory table let out a light titter.

The Prime Minister’s comments came in reaction to reported remarks by a Russian official that we were but “a small island that no-one pays attention to.”

David’s goat was thoroughly got:

“When the world wanted rights, who wrote the Magna Carta? When they wanted representation, who built the first parliament? When they looked for compassion, who lead the abolition of slavery? When they searched for equality, who gave women the vote? When their freedom was in peril, who offered blood, toil, tears and sweat? And today, whose music do they dance to? Whose universities do they flock to? Whose football league do they watch? Whose example of tolerance, of people living together, people of every nation, every religion, young and old, straight and gay, whose example do they aspire to? I haven’t even got on to the fact that this small island beat Russia in the Olympics last year, or of course that the biggest selling vodka brand in the world isn’t Russian, it’s British. Smirnoff made in Fife. We may be a small island, but I tell you what, we’re a great country.”

You tell those Ruskies Dave.

The conference 'secure zone' entranceThe conference 'secure zone' entrance

But aside from reigniting a new Cold War-in-a-teacup and not really setting out any new policies whatsoever (apart from benefit cuts for under-25s), what was Dave’s ‘rousing’ message?

In a nutshell: Reforms to education and welfare (you’re either earning or learning sunshine, got it?), hard work, opportunities for all, Maggie knew best, knuckling down and a robust defence of business as our backbone with wealth creation, enterprise and profits not to be considered as ‘dirty words’.

Oh and alluding to Labour at least 25 times, a clear indicator that the blues have been rattled somewhat by the increasingly pesky lefty reds. "Red Ed and his Blue Peter economy" went down particularly well inside Manchester Central.

Nicholas Lapish of Doncaster felt it was a very honest speech: “There were no false statements. He was being truthful and opportunistic. Stating that the only way things can continue to improve is by banding together, through hard work, personal enterprise, taking responsibility. I thought it was quite inspirational actually.”

Nicholas LapishNicholas Lapish

As did two young Tory boys (let’s call them the short and tall one) scuttling towards the Town Hall, one of whom (the short one) spoke with such rushed and rehearsed public school diplomacy that I could have sworn his tongue turned more blue with every word: “It’s similar in a way to the idea of the American Dream I suppose”, alluding to the speech's’ ‘Land of Opportunity’ moniker. “It’s about being able to make it if you really want to and work hard for it. The opportunity is there for all. It’s saying that it’s your personal responsibility to get on and do well. We can’t rely on just the state to get us through.”

And what about what Boris calls the ‘yellow Lib Dem albatross’ around the Tories’ neck?

“Of course it would be much better for us to be able to do what we think is right without all the red tape and compromise”, said the tall one.“We’d have more efficient cuts and the chance to sort our defence out. Trident for starters.”

So have the Conservatives reclaimed some of their mojo in Manchester?

“Absolutely”, said the boys, “Bring on the majority in 2015.”

Phil and his 'Ban the burkha' brigadePhil and his 'Ban the burkha' brigade

Not everyone outside the conference, however, was quite so enthused.

“Ban the burkha!” One man with a striking resemblance to Phil Mitchell pointed and shouted at me just outside The Midland Hotel, backed up by what looked like a troop of extras from The Football Factory calling themselves the North West Infidels.

“Sorry what?” He’d caught me off guard.

“Ban the burkha!” He repeated, pointing to a burkha clad woman beside him. “Ban this danger to our society. Can you tell what sex she is?”

“Well yes, you’ve just said she.”

Another man tells Phil to “fuck off” as he strides by.

“Come here and fucking say that”, pipes up one of the infidels.

Moving on swiftly.

Nuclear man and the 'No Nukes' dogNuclear man and the 'No Nukes' dog

The ‘Ban the Burkha’ lot weren’t the only vexed group outside the conference, a man with a big yellow flag and a ‘No Nukes’ dog shouted something or other about nuclear power stations being “the death of us”, while a dressed down Gandalf made a surprising appearance, repeatedly declaring, “Death to the Tories. Hurrah.”

The most perplexing and downright defamatory sign, however, was the one which accused the Attorney General of being both ‘bent’ and a ‘freemason’. I suspected this sign was also one of Gandalf’s, who just looked like he was there to have a laugh in between his time battling Sauron and downing Scrumpy Jack.

All the while two pissed-off retired Fusiliers lambasted defence cuts and a UKIP representative was, as he claimed, “picking up the pieces of an increasingly central Tory government and its Euro-politicians.”


Gandalf's questionable signGandalf's questionable sign

Dave’s culminating speech had, for the most part, been a popular one with those leaving the conference. And if the clap-o-meter was anything to go by, it’d been a resounding success with eleven minutes of clapping during his 50 minute speech.

They may not, unlike Labour, do too much cheering the Tories, but they do love to politely put their hands together.

Some suggested that the speech, indeed most of the conference, had seemed a bit flat, the atmosphere a little stale, possibly due to the abundance of media and lobbyists as opposed to bare knuckle blues.

But it had been a well prepared speech, well scribed, well delivered and not overly leant towards the Right in reaction to the threat of UKIP. This was DC's liberal conservatism in full flow.

Dave’s overriding message: We’re doing well but not quite finished yet, we’re still cleaning up the mess that Labour left so don’t let them come back and cock it all up.

Still, tell that to the 50,000 protestors that marched through Manchester at the TUC march on Sunday. And Gandalf.

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AnonymousOctober 8th 2013.

I do wish our protestors would take some pride in their spelling and grammar. It's "attorneys general". As any fule no.

AnonOctober 8th 2013.

Ha. Enjoyed this irreverency. The difference between Lapish and Phil Mitchel. Spot the blue

Duke FameOctober 17th 2013.


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