The Conference included a blend of traditional discourse with the opportunity to attend a wide range of fringe events on important issues facing people today. The party aims to implement pragmatic solutions to elevate people from poverty, kindle the flames of social mobility, and weave a fabric of common sense values over the nation - with some political theatre thrown in for good effect.
The conference reflected on the tumultuous events of the last 3 years which have brought many challenges for the party. The revolving door of ministers and prime ministers has certainly tested the party's resolve. Yet, amidst the churn, the conservative ethos has not only endured but seemingly swayed the ideological pendulum, nudging even opposition figures towards a more conservative stance. The number of U-turns from Sir Keir Starmer in his bid to distance himself from the ever present hard left (and therefore make the party more electable), stands as a testament to the power of conservatism!
There was some stimulating policy insights from Miriam Cates and the New Conservative Movement. Their influence is a breath of fresh air for a party at a crossroad, and with a newfound demographic stronghold in the Red Wall areas. Discussions took place on the importance of celebrating our humanitarian responses towards crises in Ukraine and Hong Kong, while advocating for a gradual transition from reliance on low-cost labour to investing in skills development for our working population.
I really enjoyed the balloon debate, where Nick Timothy, Arlene Foster, Lord Frost and Michael Gove challenged historical political figures - Joseph Chamberlain, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt, respectively. The playful yet insightful arguments on who should remain in and who should be thrown out of the metaphorical hot air balloon provided much laughter, a welcome respite from some of the more serious and challenging issues we are facing.
The Conservative Party is a broad church, and the conference was a testament to this. Learning and most importantly listening to the experiences and opinions of others including our guests from the Ukraine has been enlightening. The conference demonstrated the party's resolve to implement the necessary policies for a prosperous future for the UK. The seeds were sown for a renewed conservative narrative, poised to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.