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WE HEAR THAT… James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, has dismissed Conference as “a ridiculous waste of time” after a ComRes poll suggested more than a third of Conservative backbenchers are not planning to attend. “One could say the same of James,” mused one of his colleagues. Embarrassed glances were exchanged at the Chairmen’s Reception last night when Grant Shapps MP graciously thanked Asda, the event’s sponsors. “Every Little Helps,” he added chirpily. There were sighs of relief when Andrew Mitchell MP finally arrived for a ConHome fringe on ‘How to win the next election’. Editor Paul Goodman fretted, “I’m concerned he’s late and I don’t know why. I hope he’s not having a conversation with a policeman.”

George Osborne MP has started Conference with an announcement aimed at winning back the affection of Tory activists. In his speech today, the Chancellor announced a new “Help to Work” scheme, in which the long-term unemployed may be required to do community work like litter-picking or face losing benefits.

TWEET OF THE DAY ‫@‏‬GeorgeMonbiot Paterson again downplays the impacts of #climatechange: 013/sep/30/owen-paterson-ministerclimate-change-advantages … Vampires in charge of the blood bank.

The Chancellor’s announcement will feed into the theme of Conference: that Conservatives are standing up for “hardworking people”. The Conservatives are seeking inspiration from Thatcher on this theme, with the merchandise stand transformed into ‘Maggie’s Stall’. Items on offer include ‘Iron Baby’ bibs. Distracting from this announcement however is the everpresent Nigel Farage, who today suggested potential local deals to ensure UKIP candidates do not stand against the most Eurosceptic Conservative MPs. Research shows that the Conservative’s best chances of victory lie not in obsessing about ‘UKIP issues’ but in having a broad appeal. It remains to be seen whether the Tories can stay focussed on uniting behind Conference’s theme.

TODAY’S KEY EVENT As mentioned above, George Osborne MP dominates the first day of Conference. In his speech at 10:30am the Chancellor responded to Labour’s “cost of living” agenda, by claiming, “if you don’t have a credible economic plan, you simply don’t have a living standards plan”.

Daily Bulletin 2013


Andrew Mitchell MP. The former Chief Whip may have been tardy to a fringe event but there are rumours that a return to Cabinet could be on the horizon. The Prime Minister refused to rule out the possibility in an interview in Manchester yesterday, describing Mitchell as “a very talented politician”.



Conference hacks, many of whom were barred entry to the secure zone yesterday after police confused them for protestors. Around 50,000 protestors took to the streets of Manchester yesterday to oppose the Government’s austerity programme.

Edelman | Southside | 105 Victoria Street | SW1E 6QT London | | 020 3047 2177 | @edelmanUK

Conservative Party Conference Bulletin - Day 1