This was never going to be a classic conference, despite the eve-of-event u-turn on high rate tax. However, the feeling on arrival was that I wasn’t walking into the blue-on-blue carnage that much of the media had projected. The mood-music was more akin to a mid-table football game at the end of a season that the media hype up and create controversy over but the fans simply go through the motions with. It felt like a mid-Parliament non-entity to be honest.
It was, as always, a great catch up with old friends, and even some Downtown regulars, and heartening to see our Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham in Birmingham promoting the Liverpool city region. Beyond that it didn’t get the blood running like Boris or even David Cameron could always do – for better or worse!
Now of course there was the infamous u-turn to kick proceedings off with, but most I spoke with felt that this was more poor timing than poor decision-making. Why would you want to cloud the water around a positive, like energy capping and lowering rates of taxation at the bottom end of the scale, by offering yourself as easy meat through higher rate tax cuts and bankers’ bonuses at this stage? Harsh lessons to be learnt, I hope, with that one.
We did get an opportunity for the first time to see in action the new Team-Truss and in particular I was impressed by the performance of Home Secretary Suella Braverman who laid out a passionate version of how she envisioned the security of the nation. She acknowledged the gravity of the job ahead but seemed genuinely committed to her role and I hope she gets the opportunity and time to enact the legislation she outlined, especially the bold improvements in policing and border control.
As for the Prime Minister herself, who is very much a friend of our region having even appeared at a fairly recent Downtown Liverpool event, we have to accept that as an orator she is never going to be a Boris Johnson or Winston Churchill. However, the Party loyalists selected her for commitment to Conservative-style actions and I hope that that is what she will be remembered for. Not a classic conference, but nevertheless one that Conservatives will hope will kickstart a new era and rebuild some of the trust in the Party across the country that had been eroded over the last couple of years.