Friday, 7 October 2016

Conservative Party Conference 2016

This week marks the end of the party conference season as Theresa May delivered her first speech as Prime Minister.  As always, each of the parties has their own issues to contend with. 

For the Liberal Democrats it was to try to make their party relevant again.  The election last year brought an abrupt end to the three party structure that had characterised our national politics for almost forty years with the Lib Dems losing all but eight of their MPs.  They are hoping that the decision by Jeremy Corbyn to lurch to the left will create space for them to recover.

For the Labour Party, the big question was how they can try to heal the scars of bitter infighting and try to put together an effective official opposition in parliament when nearly all Labour MPs think that Jeremy Corbyn should go.  I worked for David Cameron and Michael Howard when they were Leaders of the official Opposition.  The role has an important formal function in our democracy to help scrutinise law so it's important that Labour get their act together.

For we Conservatives, the issue that loomed large throughout the conference was how we maximise the opportunities created by our decision to leave the European Union.  I took part in several fringe events to discuss how we could dramatically improve policies on agriculture and fisheries once we escape the dead weight of the EU and are free to innovate, try new policies and make our own laws again.  Theresa May has revealed the huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to prepare for Brexit with a Repeal Bill being drafted which will replace EU law with regulations we want to keep on a legitimate UK legal basis.

I have known Theresa May for over twelve years.  She was on the front bench for the Conservatives when I worked for Michael Howard.  She was always solid and dependable, never ducked a difficult fight and played as a trusted part of a team.  What strikes me most so far is that she doesn't mess about but takes clear decisions in a timely way and seems determined to get things done.  That is what we need right now.

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