First thoughts on the Conservative Party Conference.

By Jason MacKenzie, Managing Partner, Corporate Communications

Incisive rhetoric and incessant rain: that’s my five word summary of the past 24 hours in Manchester at the Tory Party Conference.

Both the PM and the Party are doubling down on one core message: #GetBrexitDone.

Despite grey skies and gloom, the Conservatives are upbeat. There are more delegates here than at any of its conferences in the past twenty years, money is flooding back into the Party coffers, and membership has jumped to 189,000.

Most political watchers can’t see a clear pathway for the UK to leave the EU in a month’s time – but Tory high command is resolute about the October 31st date of departure. Whilst Boris is being buffeted by the media and barracked by detractors from all sides, he’s still riding high in the polls.

It feels as though a perfect storm is beckoning. Outside of the Westminster bubble, there’s an alternative perspective on reality, and the Party faithful are curiously upbeat. ‘Surrender Act’ is cutting through – and policy pledges to pour money into hospitals, schools and the police are being widely embraced.

Setting the scene: contrasting and combative

Party Chairman James Cleverly opened the conference by balancing this positive messaging with a robust rebuttal of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. The former leadership candidate was both confident and combative.

Addressing the Opposition leader head on, Cleverly claimed that “choice, freedom and diversity are anathema to Corbyn and his comrades…[they have]…no room for diversity of thought…[and are] happy for you to look different as long as you think the same.”

He contrasted the Party’s convictions starkly, characterising the Conservative approach as one of equality of opportunity: “helping those that stumble, without hindering those who fly.”

It’s clear that the Tories are building rapidly toward a post-Brexit General Election, and are feeling bullish about it.

“Corbyn has called for an election at least 35 times since 2017,” rallied Cleverly “but when it came to the opportunity, he ducked it. Twice…whilst Labour continues to fudge their position, we have a clear message: ‘let’s get Brexit done…we will leave the EU on Oct 31st – no ifs, no buts’.”

The Chairman’s pay-off line was a battle cry:

“When the election comes, we will be ready – and we will win…so I say to Jeremy Corbyn ‘Bring. It. On’.

Photo: BBC Parliament.