Political parties hold conferences every autumn. The general mood will be carefully handled to show off party unity, leaving a conference purpose as mostly one of ‘party’ time, writes Steve Lane, Werrington First Independent Councillor.
But for the Tories at this year’s get-together in Birmingham, what a ‘party’ it turned out to be. In a week when the Prime Minister faced a continuous onslaught from critics of her Brexit manoeuvrings, she chose to inject some kind of self-deprecating humour in front of an audience and a watching media.
I know that we British are renowned for the ‘stiff upper-lip’, but this was a stiffness that should not be replicated on a public stage. She was trying so hard to get it right, but I was left feeling somewhat embarrassed for her, as those awkward, robotic moves did not come through in the manner they were surely intended. Anyway, at least the rest of her speech went well, and with no faulty scenery.
She made a number of promises, but best of all, she declared an end to austerity. So, perhaps we are about to see the loosening of purse strings. Let us hope the next conference will continue with Abba- mania, because I Have a Dream that there might be Money, Money, Money, or at least some glimmer of hope for a much-needed investment in people’s council services.
But for now, it’s mid-October and the conference season ends with only the SNP to hear from, doing what it does best for Scotland. With anti-Brexit and anti-Union sentiments abounding, it would not surprise us if that party’s leader had led with I’ve Got to Get Out of This Place. She could have asked her followers to Give Me Just a Little More Time to deliver her plan for a State of Independence.
There’s no doubt that we have to give The Boss some credit for at least still having purpose and direction.
That’s more than can be said for the opposition parties south of the border.
Following on from two General Elections in quick succession, the Opposition failed to get the popular vote and had to admit “You Win Again”. They will ask themselves what went wrong, and begin to plan for another round.
For many people, elections are all about political parties. Some voters will be lifelong supporters of a particular choice, but some will change preferences according to how particular issues are being handled at the time.
However, surveys have shown that a party leader’s high profile will influence a voter’s choice on the day.
So, how can these leaders win a popular vote? Do opposition parties give it a little more thought and prepare their leaders’ auditions? There’s no need for anyone to be Dancing on the Ceiling, but one party will have to find a way to Pick Up the Pieces and get its share of elected members to a level that it once was.
There are two other hopefuls that would love to reach a Higher Ground, but will simply have to remain content with just swinging along to The Land of Make Believe. Then, I can just about Imagine the last one on my list being pushed onto the stage. A certain principled politician would protest, as he once famously used to. “I Don’t Wanna Dance”, he would complain. “These Boots Are Made for Walkin - and I’m not wearing those blessed leopard skin heels!”
Finally, I will end my ramblings, but it may be worth taking stock of what has been learned from these conferences.
That’s right – nothing new, apart from just one small exception, and a lingering thought. Should a certain leader’s political fortunes change over the coming months, this rehearsal could stand one in good stead for next year’s selection on Saturday night’s Strictly. Now, would that not catch a vote or two?