5 things we learnt from the Tory Party conference

From the bizarre to the horrifying at Tory Party conference 2023

Suella Braverman

1. Conspiracy theories becoming mainstream

Cabinet ministers have been spouted conspiracy theory rhetoric in their speeches during the conference, in a worrying display of ‘far right conspiracy theories’ being used as a tool by Tory MPs to fuel fear.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper made the bizarre comments during his speech that Tories will stop the “misuse of 15-minute cities”, adding, “what is sinister is the idea of local councils can decide how often you can go to the shops and that they can ration who uses the roads and when, and that they police it all with CCTV.”.

But, this is just not true. No council has even had these powers and 15-minute cities are a concept that promotes sustainable infrastructure in cities, with the theory previous debunked by his own Party.

Whilst the Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho also decided to make up a non-existent meat-tax in her speech, aimed at whipping up fear around a Labour agenda.

As journalist Emily Maitlis put it: “We are in a brand new world where policies that were never going to happen are being ‘cancelled’ or where we are being saved from ‘sinister’ practices that don’t actually exist. That’s called conspiracy.”

2. Liz Truss still holds grip on Party support, but less so on reality

Liz Truss apparently ‘stole the show’ at the Tory Party conference when her Great British Growth Rally event upstaged the Tory leadership in support. Queues snaked around the corridors to hear the former Prime Minster call for cuts in corporation tax and to “make Britain grow again”, despite previously unleashing financial turmoil with her mini-budget.

Known to most for crashing the economy and being out-lasted by a lettuce, it appears many Tory members either have amnesia or still believe her vision speaks for them. Either way it signifies a chaos within the Tory Party and a threat to Sunak’s leadership, as she called for members to, “unleash their inner conservative”.

3. Lee Anderson thinks poverty isn’t real, and dictators are a ‘good idea’

The blunt Tory Deputy Chairman Lee Anderson continues to spread deplorable far-right ideology, this time claiming at a fringe event that it was “nonsense” anyone in the UK is living in poverty, saying people just needed to “get off their arse”.

Continuing his offensive trajectory, he also suggested children with ADHD were “nuisances” and that the root cause was “bad parenting”. We also learnt that he thinks a dictator is a “good idea”, but only “if they’re a good dictator”.

4. Tories to scrap Manchester leg of HS2, whilst in Manchester

Questions on the future of the HS2 West Midlands to Manchester line dominated the Prime Minister’s conference agenda, much to his frustration. He none the less spent most of his time refusing to give a straight answer as to whether phase two of HS2 was being scrapped or not.

However he is now finally expected to officially announce the scrapping of the West Midlands-Manchester leg of the high-speed railway line in his speech later today, which has been condemned as a ‘betrayal’ to the North by Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who blasted it a “desperate last acts of a dying government”.

However some Tory MP’s seemed happy with the deciscion, including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Lee Anderson, who asked a fringe event, “Anyone here from Bradford? Would you want to get there quicker?”.

5. Suella Braverman’s populist rhetoric knows no bounds

Home Secretary Suella Braverman pushed her dehumanising rhetoric of refugees to new depths when she talked of a “hurricane” of mass migration coming to the country.  

In her speech to the Tory Party on Tuesday afternoon, Braverman said the future could bring “millions of migrants to these shores, uncontrolled and unmanageable”.

Her language has been widely condemned by all parties, whilst a Tory member was removed from the conference for heckling the speech, calling it a “homophobic rant”.

It came after Braverman said ministers must challenge the “poison” of talking of subjects such as white privilege and gender ideology. To which Andrew Boff in the audience said to himself “there’s no such thing as gender ideology”, leading to his swift removal by security. Boff has since said her language “horrified me”.

Nigel Farage’s attendance and huge support from members at the Party, with Rishi Sunak refusing to rule out Farage re-joining the party also signified a shift further to the right, with Braverman eagerly continuing to feed the far-right flame.

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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