Maitland Political/AMO Monitor – 4 October 2018
Theresa May’s opening remarks in her speech to the Conservative Party conference invoked the unity and vision of the country rebuilding after both World Wars, portraying the pursuit of politics as a noble force for good. She passionately defended Jacob Rees-Mogg, Diane Abbott and all other MPs who have been attacked personally. During her address she frequently returned to this theme of unity.
A well-crafted and highly personal speech, May touched on the recent death of her goddaughter as part of her promise to deliver better cancer care, and used the personal stories of her Cabinet ministers to great effect.
Articulating her vision of “opportunity for all”, May positioned herself and her party as occupying a moderate centre ground. Contrasting her stance to Labour’s current front bench, the Prime Minister repeatedly criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and policies. She called on the Conservatives “to be a party for the whole country” for everyone who is willing “to work hard and do their best”.
She made two big announcements:
- a new cancer strategy to improve rates of early detection by 50% within ten years
- scrapping the cap to allow local councils to borrow against their assets to build housing
While not referring to Chequers by name, a confirmation of how toxic it has become, she portrayed her Brexit plans as pragmatic and realistic, urging her party to come together: “If we all go off in different directions in pursuit of different versions of the perfect Brexit – we risk ending up with no Brexit at all”.
Recognising the desire to see an end of austerity, to show that all the “hard work has paid off”, May finished with a promise that next year’s Spending Review would see debt as a share of GDP fall whilst investment in public services would go up.
In what often felt like a job interview to remain leader of her party, this was a strong performance. Maitland Political/AMO’s full analysis of this year’s Conservative conference is available on our website.
Driving the Day
- Councils will be able to borrow more money to build social housing, as the Prime Minister lifts the cap on local authority borrowing for new housebuilding.
- Ministers will begin jostling for further funding for their departments following Theresa May’s pledge to end austerity after Brexit.
- Tensions are stoked as the UK government blames the Russian military’s intelligence service for several high-profile cyber attacks.
- Trade Policy Minister George Hollingbery is expected to attend an EU Trade Ministers meeting.
- Chatham House will host an event on Tracking Russian Interference in Western Democracies.
- The Ministry of Defence will publish Defence departmental resources: 2018.
- The Office of Rail and Road will publish Passenger rail usage, April to June 2018: passengers, journeys and revenue.
Both Houses are on recess. They will return 9 October.
At this rate, Chequers the building is going to have to change its name by deed poll so it can start its life afresh. Has a stately home ever previously been admitted to a Witness Protection Programme?