Although there is a common cliché that every conference season was “the most important in generations”, this past one was truly momentous. Usually the conference after a general election leads to the beaten party looking deeply into themselves, choosing a new leader or a new policy direction, whilst the winner pats themselves on the back – and gets down to the business of governing. This time it was the opposite. Back in Whitehall and Brussels, the Brexit negotiations rumble on—the biggest challenge any government has faced for 40 years.
In Brighton, we saw a party that felt it was on the up. Those against Jeremy Corbyn, remained subdued. There was no plotting at the fringe or barnstorming centrist speeches in the main hall. Corbyn supporters painted a picture of themselves on the brink of government—never mind that there may not be a general election for another five years.
Up in Manchester, the party that actually won the election was in a very different mood. The Conservatives gathered a little bruised – some believing the hype from Brighton that Corbyn is indeed on the brink of power. For several years, the Conservatives have been concerned that they do not attract enough out of the young vote. That used to mean anyone under 30; now under 45. Therefore “getting the young vote” has gone from being a flashing light on the dashboard to a reason to take the car into the shop. Although it was discussed throughout the conference, little in the way of a solution was found.
In fact, apart from falling letters, a coughing fit, and a rogue comedian, the Conservative party conference will be best remembered for what was not said. There was little in the way of juicy policy announcements; more funding to “help to buy” and a freeze on tuition hikes, a couple of billion on social housing.
Theresa May started her speech by telling the Conservative faithful that during the “too presidential” general election campaign people saw the governing party as the “continuity” offering – rather than the a chance for radical change. If this was the diagnosis for the poor performance last June a cure remains unstated by the PM.
We have brought together the key announcements from both of the main parties to give a picture of what happened over the past few months, and to prepare you for the next few busy months in Parliament, including the first ever Autumn Budget. If you would like more information about how Maitland/AMO Political can help you to communicate with government don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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