The future’s bright, it’s just a shame it’s not now: reflections from Conservative Party Conference
I have always grasped the real mood of the Conservative Party in the least typical of places. At conference, that is often in the hotel lobby, at a housing fringe, in the nightclub at the end of conference party, or indeed walking through the barren ICC the morning after.
This conference proved no exception to that, because whilst the headline speeches exposed some very real cracks in an inexperienced and weak Conservative leadership, the tremendous strength of the up-and-comers and grassroots Party remained a great reminder of the reason why it’s the Conservative Party that is the most successful political party in the world.
The battle of ideas that took place over the course of the last week tells me that the future’s bright, it’s just a shame it’s not now…
The development sector might come away feeling particularly pleased with the soundings taken from the DLUHC team at several fringe events. The new housing minister, Lee Rowley, stuck to the government’s guns on the Levelling Up Bill that would remain against the backdrop of a new Planning and Infrastructure Bill, as well as shunning nationally set housing targets that have long hindered the ability of local authorities to work sensibly and collaboratively with Whitehall on how good growth is actually delivered. The ever-increasing tension between the government’s plans to deliver housing and the long list of constraints for enablers concerning nutrient neutrality, biodiversity net gain, renewable energy requirements and more, seemed to surface loudly amongst members without clear direction and we should hope for more information on that as soon as possible. In a similar vein, criticism was levelled at Natural England, Homes England and other government quangos for their perceived lack of action to facilitate and encourage growth across the country, something that we should keep a close eye on as the Truss administration looks at a much slimmer government.
Rising stars like my own MP, Kemi Badenoch, moved well beyond the infuriating focus on soundbite capture politics to tackle head on the major issues in our society. She and others find popularity in promoting and encouraging inclusivity from a diverse group of people with a common thread of conservative values uniting them. It’s an environment that allows the LGBT+ community, social conservatives, Europhiles, Europhobes, libertarians and conservatives alike, to come together to promote the idea that they all want a better country where growth, prosperity and tolerance thrives. They’re not interested in division, but rather a respect for one another that centres upon a commitment to the individual; even in the face of those outside the conference who perpetuate a false sense of polarisation and hate to drive their own political ends.
So, on the surface we have a national party weakened by drama and a p**s-poor communications department. Underneath, there is a patchwork quilt that promises to secure prosperity to every section of our society in the years to come.