The Joys of Party Conferences

A satirical look at activist gatherings


Well it’s that time of year again! The stage managed and excruciatingly dull party conferences have begun with UKIP and the Lib Dems hosting their offerings. So exciting!

UKIP had something mildly interesting going on – the election of a new leader. After Nigel Farage had given a painfully egotistical speech about how he single-handedly saved Britain from the evil bureaucratic tentacles of the EU, it was on to the important business.

Diane James (no, I don’t know her either), an MEP (not for long) was elected with almost half of all votes cast. As with most UKIP politicians, it doesn’t take particularly strenuous research to find a catalogue of gaffes. A couple of James’ highlights include saying she admires Vladimir Putin’s “strong leadership” and calling for a temporary ban on all immigrants due to “crime associated with Romanians” – sounds like another blow horn from across the pond….

Another question that appears to have been answered is that of UKIP’s only MP, Douglas Carswell. He and Nigel Farage famously despised each other. The latter has said on his radio show that Mr Carswell had done “all he could to split the party”. However, his relationship with Ms James looks to be rosier. He said he would give her ‘110% support’ before they did that awkward hand shake and look into the camera thing on the stage (how sweet). One has to wonder how long the honeymoon period will last, given Mr Carswell’s track record in politics – does anyone really like him?

The conference was also a chance to discuss the future direction of the party – what’s the point of UKIP now they have achieved their goal? (a good question). Some argue they should take over in the North from Labour as Britain’s party of the working class – this coming from the party of famous men of the people like millionaire donor Arron Banks and deputy chairman William Legge, the 10th Earl of Dartmouth (you couldn’t make it up). Of course time will tell, but all I hope for is that they keep providing me with amusing writing material.

Running at the same time as UKIP was the Lib Dem conference, a thrilling weekend gathering of the middle class and sandal wearers (often both) in Brighton to mourn the Brexit vote. The irritatingly chipper party leader, Tim Farron, tried to lift the mood, saying that the Brexit vote had in fact made the Lib Dems stronger; if by stronger he means a few new members and a council by-election gain in rural Derbyshire, then perhaps he has a point.

There has also been talk of a so-called progressive alliance between Lib Dems alongside moderate pro-European Conservative and Labour members. Party grandees Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown have been the most vocal, with the latter even setting up a new party. (Although we’re not allowed to call it that – it’s just a collection of like-minded individuals). Is this a sign that the Lib Dems are forward thinking, reasonable and passionate about the centre ground? Or does it show that even they have accepted that their brand is toxic and no one will vote for them? I’ll let you decide.

The difference between UKIP and the Lib Dems is stark. One is riding the crest of a wave whilst the other is marooned, trying desperately to make it back out to sea. However, the mood of both is very similar; both are positive and upbeat. This is why our political parties are broken. They see everything very narrowly and fail to notice when the public is against them.

Yes, we voted Brexit, but most of the electorate do not like the blatant ignorance of UKIP politicians. Lib Dems can’t see that centrism and liberalism are at their lowest ebb for decades. Labour and Corbyn can’t see that speaking at National Mineworker Galas will not win them power. Only the Conservatives seem sane enough to run the country at the moment – and that’s coming from a lefty (albeit centre-lefty).

The fact that I’ve just made that statement if somewhat worrying to me and should concern people from all sides of the political spectrum.


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