Swiss Cottage Cllr Don Williams: Boris Johnson did not disappoint in Manchester
- Credit: Archant
As ever, it has been a fascinating conference, catching up with our Camden Conservative friends and even those from the other side! Yes, the other side was there and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Our obligatory party photo saw our old friend and favourite MP Chris Philp joining us to the acclaim of the Camden Conservative team. Welcome back Chris. A large turn out of activists resulted in more than 30 members in the photo.
The young people of the Conservative Way Forward got things off to a festive mood on Sunday - no shortage of under 30s here. By Monday midday, the buzz really came to conference in the form of Jacob Rees Mogg. Nestling into my seat early, I patiently awaited the arrival of the new media phenomenon. He arrived with a coterie of cameramen and reporters with cameras constantly flashing. It was a memorable entrance - vastly different from a boring training session or a speech from sleepy professor.
When all seemed settled in a packed Manchester Town Hall, a battery of Labour supporters got
up and screamed “Tories Out”, from the back of the hall. Peace came after 5 minutes. Then a new protestor popped up near the podium shouting. Unruffled, Jacob Rees Mogg went over to speak and reason with him. Then another protestor arrived a few minutes later. Security had their hands full but all was well after 10 mins with talk and a bit of cajoling. The audience clapped raucously when the protest was over. Moggmania was well and truly here.
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An animated meeting followed on the themes of Referendum and Brexit. We were told to look forward to the positive goal of a freer and more prosperous world - no cliff edge here, just working toward the sunny uplands of the future - where our goods and services would be more easily traded across the world.
On Tuesday, after many meetings and being collared by Prostate Cancer UK, it was time for Boris’ speech. Long queues and great expectations preceded it. Boris did not disappoint - referring to The Opposition Leader as a Space Cadet and asking all to be brave about Brexit while being entertaining and ending to rapturous applause. Lest we forget his positive vision of the future, he quipped, “Let the lion roar!”. Boris has been as colourful as ever, a bit loose of tongue at times but expressing and re-expressing sincere loyalty to the leadership.
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Other highlights included the Arab Ambassadors reception filled top ranking diplomats from all over the world mingling with MPs, MSPs, Councillors, researchers and ordinary members. This was a sit down affair with a delicious middle eastern buffet. There, the Iraqui representative dealt diplomatically but firmly with the recent Kurdish referendum. The news is stay tuned for more developments in that part of the Middle East. It ain’t over yet!
The Italian Conservative reception excelled by the quality of the wine offered and a commitment by Conservative MPs to work to ensure that rights of EU citizens, especially Italians, would be guaranteed in Britain after Brexit.
Oh, I didn’t mention the rousing speech of Ruth Davidson and the adulation of party members in England and Wales. I didn’t talk about the new advances in holographic technology being exhibited at the conference nor the new Cross Rail trains will look like. As usual, there is lots to do and see. Four days never seems to be enough for a Conservative Conference.
Lastly, the speech of Prime Minister Theresa May is set to focus on new domestic policies, unity and a positive view of the future after Brexit. Party activist are expecting the speech with a positive frame of mind.
All in all, the mood at conference is good with a resolve to take the Conservative message all over the country and face 2018 with renewed optimism.
See you next year in Birmingham.