Conservative Diary

Party conferences

9 Oct 2012 11:55:35

Party Conference policy announcements rolling blog

10.30am Wednesday update

  • Community sentences to deliver "proper punishment". Legislation to make sure there is a punitive element as part of every community order.
  • Two strikes and you're out. Those who commit the most serious" violent or sexual crimes more than once will face automatic life sentences. Those given two prison terms lasting more than 10 years would be upgraded to the greater punishment.
  • "A clear plan for change on human rights."
  • Victims to have a say in punishment. Victims of anti-social behaviour given the power to demand compensation or order yobs to carry out repairs and clean up parks

12.15pm update

  • The Department of Health and the Care Quality Commission review to make sure managers are held accountable for the care they provide, both in the NHS and social care sectors.
  • From next year all hospitals will be assessed against the number of patients who would recommend the care they received to friends or family.
  • From April next year a guarantee of access to all innovative radiotherapy wherever clinically appropriate and cost-effective.
  • A £100m fund to help nurses use technology to reduce form-filling and increase patient time.

Continue reading "Party Conference policy announcements rolling blog" »

9 Oct 2012 08:15:50

The Party Conference is helping a recovery in Conservative self belief

By Harry Phibbs
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So far the Conservative Party Conference is going well. David Cameron has over 100,000 followers on Twitter after only four days. Labour's YouGov poll lead has fallen from 14% on Sunday to 10% this morning.

We have the Boris/Cameron saga, of course. Political correspondents have reverted to writing soap operas.  After the preoccupation with Gordon Brown's rivalry with Tony Blair, they now offer a running commentary on Boris Johnson's ambition to succeed David Cameron.

That such ambition exists, there is no longer any doubt. It is scarcely less disguised than Brown's, although it manifests itself in a far more cheerful form. Boris is a remarkably positive, good humoured, generous spirited, force. Gordon Brown was sour, nail biting, and sulking.  His ambition ran just as deep but it was a less appealing spectacle.

Continue reading "The Party Conference is helping a recovery in Conservative self belief" »

8 Oct 2012 10:37:03

Will Boris blow a hole through the middle of the conference planners' grid?

By Paul Goodman
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The main aim of the party conference planners is to keep their grid undented.  Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don't.  Last year they did: with the exception of the row about a cat (you remember: whether or not the ownership of one contributed to a deportation decision), everything went more or less to order.  The year before they didn't: the first few days of the conference were knocked off-balance by the row about George Osborne's plan to withdraw child benefit from some better-off parents.

So far this year the planners are getting their way in Birmingham - nothing emerged yesterday to steal the limelight from Grant Shapps's and William Hague's twin assault on Ed Miliband - but a problem looms for them: Boris.  The Mayor of London has the potential not so much to dent their grid as to blow a hole right through the middle of it.  Last year and pre-budget, his naked desire for the leadership and the premiership had less potential to do this.  This year is different, and I list briefly below some of the main moments to watch for.

Continue reading "Will Boris blow a hole through the middle of the conference planners' grid?" »

6 Oct 2012 18:00:09

What do the Tories need to do in Birmingham? The ConHome team previews the challenges

Bruce Anderson on David Cameron:

Newman said that the essence of religion is authority and obedience. Although that is a bit much to expect from Birmingham next week, authority and leadership would be adequate. The party's leading figures must provide reassurance, to those in the hall and to the wider public. Most voters are realistic. No-one is expecting to be told that a recovery is imminent. But people do want a sense that Ministers are in control and that they know where they are going. As ever, David Cameron's own contribution will be crucial. Yet again, he will have to make the speech of his life, so that by the end of the Conference, even if there is still grumbling and anxiety, he has won renewed respect.

Matthew Barrett on Boris Johnson:

This conference features a keynote speech from the most powerful directly-elected politician in the country: Boris Johnson. There has been plenty of talk over the last few years about the Cameron-Johnson rivalry, and the media certainly gives Boris' speech enough attention and hopes he says something provocative. The challenge for Boris this year, if he wants to appear to be a mature politician, is to let David Cameron take centre-stage, and not try and overshadow the whole conference. We saw a more disciplined Boris in 2011-12, his re-election year, but his challenge is to keep it up now he's safely back in office.

Nadine Dorries on winning back the base:

One of the main objectives of this conference should be to send a very loud and clear message to the activists that we love them and we want them back. Without doubt, the leadership has ignored the concerns of not only MPs, but the association members we represent. An arrogant and self-interested pursuit of policies such as Lord Reform and gay marriage has resulted in the party depending on a very thin base to turn out our vote in 2015. Our members are leaving us and going to UKIP. Clegg famously said he was sorry to his conference, Cameron should do the same - apologise to our members and then ask them to come back home.

Continue reading "What do the Tories need to do in Birmingham? The ConHome team previews the challenges" »

2 Oct 2012 13:33:28

Tories unveil Party Conference slogan...

By Tim Montgomerie
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After Andrew Mitchell overshadowed the Lib Dem conference rumours that Conservative strategists were going to ask William Hague to head butt a nurse in order to upstage Ed Miliband's big speech have proven to be unfounded!

The best I can offer is the slogan for next week's Tory Conference...

Drum roll please....

It's "Britain can deliver".

Party sources tell me that the slogan aims to capture the sense that Britain under the Coalition government is making real progress. Not just in terms of reducing the deficit by a quarter but also making long-term reforms that will serve the country's future competitiveness. Key achievements that will be spotlighted include the progressive lowering of corporation tax and pensions reform as well as the flagship changes to welfare and schools made by IDS and Michael Gove.

There'll be an Olympics sub-text to the Conference. The PM and ministers will argue that London 2012 was concrete proof that Britain can still do great things and even greater things lie ahead.

Labour will be presented as yesterday's party tied to yesterday's solutions - still wedded to an outdated and now impossible belief that higher taxes and higher spending can solve every problem.

> Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove are some of the stars in ConHome's fringe programme.

16 Sep 2012 08:35:29

Boris Johnson features in ConHome's biggest ever Party Conference programme... and calls for tougher strike laws

By Tim Montgomerie
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Johnson Boris Pointing 2

Boris Johnson will be the headline star of ConservativeHome's biggest ever Party Conference programme this year. We'll publish full details of that programme tomorrow but other speakers include Nicola Blackwood, Graham Brady, Janet Daley, David Davis, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Fallon, Michael Gove, William Hague, Robert Halfon, Richard Harrington, Sajid Javid, Patrick McLoughlin, Andrew Mitchell, Jesse Norman, John Redwood, Grant Shapps and Kay Swinburne.

Boris speaks at 6pm INSIDE THE SECURE ZONE on Monday evening. It will be the third year in a row that the Mayor of London will have been the guest of honour at ConHome's Conference rally. If you are going to Birmingham please ink the time in your diary. We are planning a big celebration of Boris' re-election and of an "Olympotastic" year.

Continue reading "Boris Johnson features in ConHome's biggest ever Party Conference programme... and calls for tougher strike laws" »

24 Aug 2012 08:02:15

New Tory rebellion after advisers to ministers are asked to share bedrooms at party conference

By Tim Montgomerie
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I'm not sure if it's a sign of the difficult financial position facing the party or a sign of financial responsibility but the Special Advisers to Tory ministers are furious that they are being asked to share hotel rooms at this year's Birmingham party conference. Some have threatened not to attend if they don't get a room of their own.

Last year ConHome noted the huge cost of attending party conference since the move from seaside resorts to major cities. It appears that the party is now feeling the pinch too.

19 Aug 2012 10:02:07

I'm back from holiday with a conclusion. Cameron's 2015 aim is to re-form the Coalition.

By Paul Goodman
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Returned from a fortnight on the Isle of Wight.  The isle is full of noises...

Here is the situation as I see it as the conference season comes into view.

  • Miliband's vote is vulnerable...  The most striking opinion poll finding about the three main parties since 2010 is the collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote.  Some traditional LibDem voters are reflexively anti-Tory.  At the last election, Labour won 29% of the vote.  Its last five daily YouGov totals have been: 43%, 43%, 42%, 42% and 44%.  The only reasonable way of reading these totals is that, with the LibDems marooned at 10% or lower, Ed Miliband is scooping up a big chunk of those former anti-Tory LibDem voters.  On paper, these could account for Labour's entire poll gain since 2010.  In practice, this is unlikely to be the case: none the less, Mr Miliband has not yet gained a poll rating near anywhere near Blair's opposition maximum (53%) or Kinnock's (56%).  Labour is thus attracting fewer switchers from the Conservatives than his predecessors.  As Lord Ashcroft noted recently from his Corby polling, Mr Miliband's own poll standing is unimpressive, and the polling consensus suggests that voters prefer David Cameron as Prime Minister and don't trust the Miliband/Ed Balls team on the economy.  All in all, Labour's lead remains highly vulnerable.

Continue reading "I'm back from holiday with a conclusion. Cameron's 2015 aim is to re-form the Coalition." »

9 Jul 2012 08:06:08

Sayeeda Warsi will call every Association Chairman to urge members to attend more grassroots-friendly party conference

By Tim Montgomerie
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Last year ConservativeHome noted that party conference was not what it was. It has become expensive and corporate.

We take our hats off to the co-chairmen, Sayeeda Warsi and Andrew Feldman for their efforts to address this.

We've already reported the early bird discounts that were introduced this year to cut the costs of attending this year's Birmingham event if people booked well in advance. Many of the discounts of that programme are still available.

Warsi Sayeeda Sep 11Sayeeda Warsi is going to be making a sustained effort over the summer to further promote attendance at conference and especially the multiple accommodation and transport discounts. She aims to place a phone call with every Tory Association Chairman (she might not connect with all of them!) to promote the idea that every party member is entitled to attend conference. She is worried that there are still many members who are unaware of rules changes from some years ago and still think that only Association officers can attend. Baroness Warsi will also be using the calls to urge Associations to maintain campaigning efforts. With police commissioner elections looming this is a summer that we have to maintain momentum, she will say.

Continue reading "Sayeeda Warsi will call every Association Chairman to urge members to attend more grassroots-friendly party conference" »

11 Mar 2012 14:59:22

The Lib Dems' weekend of free publicity begs the question: where is Conservative Spring Forum?

By Matthew Barrett
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Read today's political news and you get a clear sense that Liberal Democrats are dominating the political agenda. That is because their spring conference is being held this weekend. Although not entirely positive for them, the free publicity has allowed Lib Dems the chance to own the debate about taxation for the last few days.

For the first time since many Tories have been involved in politics, there was no Spring conference this year. Where has it gone? Paul Goodman reported in November last year that Spring Forum would be greatly reduced in size, and limited to, according to a CCHQ press release at the time "a one day event [that] will be focused on the issues concerning the Voluntary Party. The agenda will be designed to promote a conversation amongst senior volunteers, senior politicians and the professional party". That Spring meeting took place last Saturday. At the meeting, David Cameron gave a speech outlining his definition of a fairer Britain. Boris also launched his nine-point plan for London.

Neither event got the publicity they were due. The Independent covered David Cameron's speech, and called the event simply a "meeting of activists". This scaled-down format didn't allow the Conservatives to dominate the weekend, or even the day. In a crucial election year for Boris in London, and local councils across the country, a Spring Forum would have achieved much better coverage in the media, and sent activists home with a determined spirit for the coming months. Instead, one of only two events a year when activists from across the country come together has simply been axed.