Opinion : Conservative Conference Shows They Don't Deserve Our Votes

13 Oct 2023

The Conservative party conference was a shambolic display of deflecting blame for the dire state of the economy, the current cost of living crisis, and the fact that they’ve decimated our NHS. 

Rishi Sunak, who is looking more and more like a lame-duck leader, was overshadowed by the uncomfortable return of former Prime Minister Liz Truss, who had the gall to sign a copy of her infamous mini-budget, which threw the whole country into disarray during her turbulent and brief stint as leader last year.  

Lead up to the Conference was dominated by speculation about Rishi Sunak’s controversial decision to axe the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2, which was, ironically, held in Manchester, leading to Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson Wera Hobhouse to claim that Rishi Sunak made Liz Truss appear like a ‘political genius’. The furious backlash came from all sides of the political spectrum with Labour’s Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham stating that the government was treating people in the north of England as ‘second class citizens’ and Conservative West Midlands Mayor Andy Street criticising the move as going against a ‘once in a generation opportunity to level up’.  

Sunak used his nearly 8,000 words speech to make a bizarre case for a new post-16 qualification dubbed the Advanced British Standard, resulting in general secretary Jo Grady of the University and College Union swiftly rejecting the proposal as a ‘desperate attempt to shore up support for a failing government’. 

Suella Braverman - after trampling a guide dog - turned to her typical overt xenophobia in her speech, declaring there was a ‘hurricane’ of mass migration coming to the UK and that the Human Rights Act should be referred to as the “Criminal Rights Act”. This increased comfort within the Party to be openly hostile towards immigrants was on show again with Ipswich MP Tom Hunt proclaiming that “it is not xenophobic when you walk into your town centre to not want to feel like you're living in a foreign country." 

The pandemonium continued into the night with former Home Secretary Priti Patel and GB News host and former leader of both UKIP and the Brexit Party Nigel Farge boogying unrhythmically to Frank Sinatra, appearing eerily similar to scenes of out-of-touch Conservatives from Channel 4’s new drama series on the Partygate scandal.  

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey aptly summarised the current state of the governing party’s shambolic 13-year record when he kicked off his own conference speech in Bournemouth by apologising for referring to the Conservatives as ‘clowns’ earlier in the year, cheekily following up that he used the "wrong C-word" to describe them.  

I was particularly disgusted by the complete omission in Rishi Sunak’s speech of the most salient contemporary issues which truly affect the British people. Sunak made no mention of soaring food prices, the pressing crisis of exorbitant Energy bills or that British ecosystems are being corrupted 824 times a day with sewage dumping. I am proud to support a party with a record of consistently highlighting the importance of these issues and standing up for regular citizens instead of being bogged down by sleaze and in-fighting. Sir Ed Davey hits the nail on the head in his assessment that “Sunak had no answers on how to fix our crumbling health services or help people seeing their bills go through the roof. Instead we got just more empty rhetoric from a lame-duck Prime Minister who is running scared of a general election.”

Yasmin Ellis

Yasmin is a volunteer with the Chelsea & Fulham Liberal Democrats.

All opinions expressed in this article are her own.