I’ve written already about how flat and small Labour conference was this year and how massive Tory conference seems in comparison. But put this into the mix: I had way more fun at Labour conference than I did here in Birmingham. Partly this may have to do with the fact that I know more Labour people than Tories, and that a lot of the Tories I know and like didn’t show up this year due to the purge of the Cameroons.
But there’s more to it than that, I think. At Labour, for all its downsides, there was a sense of the future at stake – very different takes on what that could be, certainly (and one of the big problems within the Labour divide at present is the moderates are unable to articulate that they believe in fundamentally different politics than the Corbynites do. In other words, it’s about a lot more than just election winning strategy) – but a hanging question of how the future could be different, better even.
At Tory conference, that question has been banished. Brexit will be the answer to the brave new world even though no one here seems to know what that means even in the most basic terms. If you want to really scare yourself about the future of this country, attend Tory conference and ask any Tory minister in charge of Brexit about financial passporting and its future, watch the confused looks on their faces and grimace yourself as it descends upon you that they clearly have no idea what you’re talking about, and then plunge further into existential horror as it hits you that the people who will be negotiating the future of the UK don’t even understand the basic terms regarding how that future will evolve.
It’s more than just Brexit, however. Unadulterated power is never a good look for any political party anywhere in the world – but this is especially true of British Tories. Sure, the saner ones will admit that Brexit may cause a few problems, even a small recession (it will be small and short they assure us), but no one is breathing down their necks about it. Jeremy Corbyn won’t even ask a Brexit related question in the House, so as long as you can use circumlocution on the SNP’s two questions every Wednesday, you’re home free. Except if the Brexit recession is long and hard but even then, will people still vote Tory when there is no other option? Probably.
Anyhow, I leave Birmingham today thanking my lucky stars I don’t need to attend SNP conference next weekend. I think I’ve had my fill of viewing our fractured body politic up close and personal for one year.