The weather has been mostly good. As it had been in Brighton. Such a contrast to the way things feel on the ground; politically speaking, everything feels very cloudy indeed. The future of Britain in the EU, and by extension the very future of the UK itself, is in doubt. We can only hope the Tories guide us thoughtfully through the next ten years as they are only real game in town.
There were the protestors, joining us in Manchester. And they have been uglier than you can imagine. A lot of the abuse aimed at women has been downright mysognistic. So much for the kindler, gentler politics then. I spoke to one woman who works for a particularly left-wing charity who was still rattled by the things she had been called going through the gates. “I guess we’re all Tory scum now,” she said with a laugh. The scenario was a perfect metaphor for the entire country: even the most devoutly left-wing asking the Tories for protection against the angry mob on the fringes who want to tear everything down.
All this while the Conservatives announced some awful stuff. The nadir for me was Theresa May’s cynical bid for the hearts of the swivel-eyed which involved denouncing immigrants and claiming things about immigration that, as someone who has been Home Secretary for over five years, she must know aren’t really true.
Then there is the general air of Tory smugness. I attended a “Corbyn victory party” here, within the secure zone. They really think they’ve got not only the next election, but the election after that in the bag. The fact that they happen to be right does not make it any less depressing.
One of the nights I was here, I stood outside the security gates, watching the protestors play their music from the 60s and 70s (a phenomenon interesting in itself) and try and re-ignite class warfare, when a guy walked up to me and asked, “Who are these morons then?” He looked to be in his early thirties; work clothes on, probably construction; he had a thick Mancunian accent.
“Protestors,” I told him.
“It’s Tory conference in there.”
He thought about this for a second.
“So David Cameron’s in there then?”
“Right. With all that security fencing I thought someone important must be in there. Guess I was wrong about that.”
He laughed at his own quip and dashing off said to me, “See you, pal.” Turning to look once again at the protestors, he shook he head and muttered, “Fucking idiots” before shouting at them, “Don’t you lot have jobs to go to?” None of them responded to the query.