October 02, 2006

A Strange Conference

Posted by Watlington

This is one of the strangest Tory conferences. On one side is optimism, hope and excitement that the years of wilderness are over. Cameron's charisma is wooing party representatives, the new tree logo is gradually being accepted and Shadow Ministers are pushing the change message at every opportunity. David Davis has been chosen to convince activists on the right that the modernisation is necessary. In his speech yesterday he emphasised the necessity of the Conservative green revolution.

Yet dig a little deeper and behind all the razzmatazz there is a sense of unease. One senior Tory source wondered aloud whether Cameronmania was a bit like the Wizard of Oz. Pull away the curtain and there is nothing really there of substance that is magic.

Of course there will always be the opposition of the hard core right to the Cameron project, embodied by the bluff and bluster of Simon Heffer. But the unease under the surface is not Hefferism.

It is an anxious feeling, a worry that behind the shininess, Conservatives are not really representing the aspirations of the British people, of the strugglers and strivers who work hard to keep their heads above water. It is not that Conservatives want reactionary right wingery, more that they want Cameron to really show he understands the deep rooted problems of social disintegration that the country faces.

At a secondary level there is huge upset about the candidates list. Many decent hard working Tories are deeply hurt by being rejected from the A list. There is much animus towards Anne Jenkin, head of Women2Win, who is now seen as the Queen Bee of the conference and the major influence over candidate selection.

So, all in all this is a conference in which Cameron will be supported as long as the polls show success. If the polls slump there could be deep seated problems to come.

To read more by Watlington, see Watlington.


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