Day 1 at the CPC17

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One year ago I attended the 133rd Conservative Party Conference and it was one of the best political events I had ever experienced. It was a festival which rode on the hype of a crumbling Labour party, sky-high poll ratings and the prospect of a country that would truly work for everybody. The Party celebrated the idea of grammar schools, a proper immigration system for post-Brexit Britain, and the Party felt like it had returned to its true conservative roots. Boy how a year changes everything.

Deflated, tense, and depressing. That’s my first impression of this Party Conference. It’s like we have won the war, but it was a bit pointless, lots of people fell unnecessarily, and nobody really wanted it in hindsight. You would have thought that the Tories would start to tackle the issue of student fees for university goers, but I awoke this morning to see a rather lacklustre promise that fees would remain at £9,250 p/a; the only thing that’s going to change is the point at which you start paying it back. Last year, I awoke to The Great Repeal Bill! Really exciting stuff! This year? A letdown. That was the Tories’ big announcement on BBC today – even diehard supporters can’t help but feel like the leadership is letting them down.

Protestors at the CPC17

Patrick McLoughlin opened Party Conference today with what I am sure would have been a rallying speech which would invigorate delegates and Conservatives across the country. But I do not think it did. As Theresa May entered the main hall, she did not receive the passionate standing ovation that she received last year – only just over half of the delegates stood to greet our Prime Minister as she and her husband took their seats. The speeches, which thanked activists for their hard, work felt hollow and empty – lacking sincerity. It was Conservative Campaign Head Quarters (CCHQ) that led to the General Election catastrophe and a weak apology from the PM is not going to cut it. Telling activists that you are thankful for their hard work does not cut it when they ignore what members want. When CCHQ decides to do a suicide mission of a campaign, I do not want their patronising thanks. This was shown by the sheer anger aimed at our Chairman and other Party executives during the election review this morning. Nobody here is happy! Or if they are happy, it is because their careers were not ruined or put on the line!

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The Scottish Conservatives hosted a fantastic event this morning in which the subject of young people was the highlight of the session. Fantastic ideas were discussed, including the idea that we must stop the pretence that university is the be-all and end-all. It was said that we have to encourage young people to look at vocational and alternative forms of education instead of university! It was alsosaid that, for the future, the national party must adopt the Scottish Conservatives’ way of campaigning! That means that CCHQ, instead ofboosting egos, must push core messages to the electorate. The ScotCons smashed this with the subject of independence by using short and sharp messages that get the message across!

So, whilst it’s not 2016, it’s not awful. The protesters are cheery chaps who just love the Conservatives, people are not happy with the leadership, and it’s raining. But hey, things can only get better!