After our trip to Manchester last week, we’re now on the road (*technically rail) again as we head to Birmingham for Conservative Party conference. Following Labour’s conference last week, the next few days in Birmingham give the Prime Minister the opportunity to respond to Ed Miliband’s speech and make the case for his party continuing to hold the keys to No 10.
This may be the last political conference to take place in Birmingham for the foreseeable future, with council leader Sir Albert Bore stating that he will bring an end to the council funding of party conferences. However over the past decade Birmingham has become one of the premier conference venues, and it is hard to envisage a future where parties cut the ties with one of Britain’s biggest cities.
The Conservative Party heads into conference buoyed by the economic data from the previous months. However stronger than anticipated economic growth and a fall in unemployment have not yet translated into the kind of polling numbers that Tory strategists will have wanted to see.
Historically, governments struggle to improve upon their performance at the next election after forming a government. How relevant this trend is to a coalition government is yet to be determined, but performances at by-elections and the European elections earlier in the year have not been especially promising.
One of the interesting factors in the next few months will be the relationship between the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners. For the Tories to win a majority, they need to take seats from the Lib Dems in the South. However at the same time, in order to prevent Labour from becoming the largest party they need the Lib Dem vote to hold up in the north. Balancing these contrasting goals is equally a problem for the Labour campaign managers, and one to watch with interest over the coming months.
Of course, Tory conference will also feature ‘Boriswatch,’ with the Mayor of London and (perhaps) soon-to-be MP having his words scrutinised for any hint of disagreement with David Cameron, or hints that he is positioning himself for a run at the party leadership if the Conservatives do lose the next election. Undoubtedly George Osborne and Theresa May will be amongst those watching with interest.
We will be launching the Blue Book of the Voluntary Sector in Manchester, the second in the CAF-ACEVO conference project, which features contributions from a range of leading Tory thinking including Jesse Norman, Kwasi Kwarteng and Charlotte Leslie. In addition to the opportunity to hear contributors speak, our event gives those with an interest in the charity sector the chance to network and discuss what the political landscape means for charities. You can join us at:
1730 – 1900
Tuesday 30th September
Hall 6A, The ICC
(Inside the secure zone, refreshments provided)
We’ll again be speaking to people on our stand, and can be found at stand 30 for the duration of conference. Come and visit us to find out more about CAF’s work, and see if you can beat the best scores posted at our game in Manchester last week!
We look forward to seeing you in Birmingham.