Day 4 at the CPC17

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This really has been a series of unfortunate events. I think I may have just entered the world of The Thick of It for an hour or so. In fact, I am certain that today’s calamity was written and directed by Armando Iannucci himself. If you haven’t heard from the mainstream media yet, Theresa May’s attempt to reassert her leadership of the Conservative Party, unfortunately, didn’t go to plan. A failed comedian tried to hand her a P45, shouting that Boris Johnson told him to do it, before being frogmarched by security, then getting arrested, then released; Theresa May had a painfully drawn out coughing fit, lost her voice, Philip Hammond had to hand her a throat lozenge, and then the stage literally started to fall apart. It could have been worse. You could have been one of the unfortunate young conservatives spied by the Daily Mail at champagne-fuelled Freedom Fizz and then plastered all over their website. But I digress…

Honestly, the content of her speech was not warming to classical libertarian conservatives so she practically failed on all points there. It was as if the PM’s speech was ripped off Ed Miliband; he is probably already considering suing for copyright infringement. Since when did the Conservative Party believe in price controls? I spent the last four days listening to esteemed members of the Cabinet telling me how Corbyn’s economic policies would fail a simple economics GCSE exam – yet the Prime Minister is now encouraging price controls on energy. It is simply baffling. There’s more! Since when were my organs the business of the state? The ugly face of big government was shown when Theresa May announced an “opt-out” system for organ donors, meaning that everyone is, by default, an organ donor unless they go through the process of opting out. Call me selfish, but I find it insulting that the state has practically just taken ownership of my body without my initial consent. I think opt-in is perfect because it means people have to make an active choice to become owned by the state. Opt-out makes it a presumed fact, which I and many others, especially true libertarian conservatives, find way too interventionist and illiberal.

As this was the only event of the day, there was little that could detract attention away from what happened. Theresa May’s speech actually started off quite well. She was effectively grovelling to the hundreds of delegates who were let down by her shoddy leadership during the general election. Delegates were also given an insight into the private life of Theresa May and her upbringing. Calamity struck when, at about the 20-minute mark, a comedian of sorts threw Maybot off the rails. Simon Brodkin, known also as Lee Nelson, was able to breach the layers of security surrounding both the conference itself and the Prime Minister, before handing her a P45 (a document given to you when you’re getting sacked). Brodkin was forced out of the building by security, shouting that Boris made him do it, calling on Boris Johnson to “back me up!”.

The speech was still salvageable – a nobody-comedian hands her a joke P45: so what? Fate had other ideas. Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, she was subject to a rather aggressive coughing fit for the rest of her speech. Multiple times, she lost her voice and had to croak through vast amounts of her message to delegates, delegates who eventually gave her standing ovations at the end of every sentence in order to let her recover temporarily.

During what was left of our PM’s speech, it was announced that justice would be sought for the families of the Grenfell Tower fire in London and that a review of the Mental Health Act would take place as a part of the Conservative’s plan to tackle injustices within British society. Repeatedly, the Prime Minister stated “that’s what I am in this for” when it came to tackling social ills. With regards to Brexit, the conference was told that “we will find a deal that works for Britain and Europe” and that EU citizens living in Britain “are welcome here” and that “we want you to stay”.

Not all was agreeable. The Prime Minister laid out plans that were nothing more than token gestures to try and win back supporters from Labour. Such policies included the controversial price cap on energy bills. The CBI was one organisation that was highly critical of the move to revive this dead policy promise. Carolyn Fairbairn said that “today’s announcement is an example of state intervention that misses the mark… market-wide price caps are not the best answer.” This move has also alienated core conservatives who believe in free market economics. Such members cannot bear to think that a conservative government is now delving into soft-core socialist policies that fail each and every time they are put into action! So disgruntled by today’s announcements and speech are Conservative MPs that The Telegraph is already reporting on a plot by 30 MPs to oust Theresa May by Christmas this year.

To top this disaster off, the stage literally began to fall apart. Luckily Theresa May wasn’t able to witness the “F” and “E” fall off of the “Building a country that works for everyone” sign or else she may have just broken down there and then at the unfolding disaster.

Overall, we must not poke fun at the Prime Minister for this speech. As I left the venue, I was grabbed by a BBC journalist to give my opinion on the speech; particularly on the subject of the comedian’s stunt, the coughing fit, and the letters falling off of the wall. What I said to the journalist, I stand by here: “The Prime Minister delivered a fantastic speech… events like what we saw today happen to the best of us… and if the media wish to use what were events beyond her control as an excuse to cast doubt on her leadership, then it shows how shallow they really are… the speech was a superb rallying-call to unite the party behind the Prime Minister but was, unfortunately, overshadowed by a series of unfortunate events”.

Until next year, conference. It was a brilliant few days of politics, press, and partying, I am sure next year will be just as interesting!