Flat and uninspiring. And that was the whole conference, not just May's speech

That was certainly the flattest Conservative Party Conference I have attended. It was dull and uninspiring, and it finished as badly as it started. Although I sympathised with Theresa May as she struggled to get her words out earlier today (who wouldn't?), the speech itself was a car crash. It was too long, disjointed, and the content was deeply worrying for those of us of a free market persuasion. 

At one point in her speech, May said, "don't try and tell me that free markets are not fit for purpose", but then went on to announce that the Government is going to impose a price cap on energy prices. When Ed Miliband proposed something similar, Tories called him a dangerous Socialist. If the cap fits, Theresa. 

She announced that the Government plans to build more council houses, although party spin doctors had to admit that the figure will be 25,000 over five years. It's just tinkering around the edges. 

Then there is organ donation. I have a donor card in my wallet. That is my decision, but now the Government is going to introduce an opt-out system, thus making our dead bodies the property of the state. Prof. John Fabre of King's College London said that it would “degrade the ethical framework of our society… into one of the state taking back what it thinks is its, while intruding on one of the most personal and delicate moments of a family’s life. No longer would we be free autonomous individuals, but rather we would become nationalised property that the state reclaims after our death." He is, of course, completely right. 

There was rebellion in the damp Manchester air, although anyone who knows anything about the Conservative Party also knows that members would never knife their leader during the conference. If May can last until Christmas, I think she will go on to 2019. But that is a big if. The only thing that is keeping her there is that no-one can agree on who should replace her. Hardly a ringing endorsement for the Prime Minister, but disunity in the opposing ranks is the only thing she's got going for her. 


Photo Credit: David Dixon

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  • Ken Worthy
    commented 2017-10-07 22:53:17 +0100
    The Conference wasn’t only flat, it ignored the elephant in the room. Almost nothing was said about the disastrous turn the Brexit negotiations have taken under Theresa May’s direction – her persistently unsuccessful attempts to appease the EU. She has received nothing at all in return. Our proposals will continue to be branded “unsatisfactory” until we have given way to all of their demands.
    There was no general understanding at the Conference of how much her Florence speech gave away, no sense that we are being outmanoeuvred. Only two fringe speakers said the Florence speech gave away too much (though they did include William Rees-Mogg) – but it was stated as as an opinion rather than a call to action.
    Her “transition period” will involve no change in our trading relationship with the EU. We will continue to follow EU rules. We’ll effectively be stuck in the EU for another two years or more, with even less say. At the great moment when we leave the EU in March 2019, what will change? As Boris said in another context, two thirds of diddly-squat.
    There is a very real danger that it could lead to a reversal of Brexit. The EU has no incentive to negotiate a reasonable free trade deal with us. Their priorities are very different from ours. They will persist in the tactics that worked so well this time. Towards the end of the transition period, when it is clear that we are nowhere near reaching agreement, there will be a big push from Remainers to stay where we are indefinitely or go back into the EU, shorn of our rebate and our Euro opt-out. The Treasury, the Foreign Office and big business will support them with zeal. With the Leavers demoralised and Corbyn on the rampage, they may well succeed.