Westminster Diary – Conference Season


The Party Conference Season is now upon us and, as usual has begun with the Liberal Democrat Conference, this year in Liverpool. Party conferences are part of the rhythm of political life, the annual gathering of political party members known variously and archaically as the party faithful, rank and file and grassroots. It is a chance for them to chastise their leaders and be inspired by them. However thing will be different this year as a result of two parties coming together to form the Coalition Government and the next three weeks will provide a number of interesting insights into the future of our politics.

The Coalition Government has, as the electorate asked, made great, early strides towards its target of reducing budget deficit left behind by Labour and tackling the political hot potato that is welfare reform. With his speech this week, Nick Clegg made a moral case for both of the Government’s early challenges, specifically highlighting the perilous economic circumstances left by the previous Government. This demonstration of the constructive modern politics where political parties work together for the good of the country has been an essential component of the Coalition Government’s success up to now and must continue if we are to succeed.

However, we must remember that there remain a number of essential differences between the members of the coalition. Electoral reform and the existing immigration cap have already caused a stir among some MPs and members of the press but I believe that these are important issues that need a full discussion. It is possible for us to retain our closely held beliefs while still working  together to ensure we deliver a strong, stable Government that can guide us towards economic recovery. 

Next week’s Labour Party Conference in Manchester will, of course, reveal the winner of their leadership election and will also finally provide an opposition with a clear sense of direction. It was inevitable that after the resignation of Gordon Brown, the Labour Party would struggle to offer positive and productive opposition. With a new leader this will change. In a similar fashion to the continuation of the Coalition Government, I believe that it imperative during times of such hardship to have an opposition provides an effective and practical alternative.   

After thirteen year of attending the Conservative Party Conference as the opposition party, it will be exciting to finally be in Birmingham in a couple of weeks time as the party of Government. Previous conferences have provided us a platform to lay before both the public and the party faithful our vision for the future of the country. Now we have started on the road of putting those policies into practice.