Hop­ing for Money, Money, Money

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - SPEAKER’S CORNER - Steve Lane, Wer­ring­ton First In­de­pen­dent Coun­cil­lor

Po­lit­i­cal par­ties hold con­fer­ences ev­ery au­tumn. The gen­eral mood will be care­fully han­dled to show off party unity, leav­ing a con­fer­ence pur­pose as mostly one of ‘party’ time.

But for the Tories at this year’s get-to­gether in Birm­ing­ham, what a ‘party’ it turned out to be. In a week when the Prime Min­is­ter faced a con­tin­u­ous on­slaught from crit­ics of her Brexit ma­noeu­vrings, she chose to in­ject some kind of self-dep­re­cat­ing hu­mour in front of an au­di­ence and a watch­ing me­dia.

I know that we Bri­tish are renowned for the ‘stiff up­per-lip’, but this was a stiff­ness that should not be repli­cated on a pub­lic stage. She was try­ing so hard to get it right, but I was left feel- ing some­what em­bar­rassed for her, as those awk­ward, ro­botic moves did not come through in the man­ner they were surely in­tended. Any­way, at least the rest of her speech went well, and with no faulty scenery.

She made a num­ber of prom­ises, but best of all, she de­clared an end to aus­ter­ity. So, per­haps we are about to see the loos­en­ing of purse strings. Let us hope the next con­fer­ence will con­tinue with Abba- ma­nia, be­cause I Have a Dream that there might be Money, Money, Money, or at least some glim­mer of hope for a much-needed in­vest­ment in peo­ple’s coun­cil ser­vices.

But for now, it’s mid-Oc­to­ber and the con­fer­ence sea­son ends with only the SNP to hear from, do­ing what it does best for Scot­land. With anti-Brexit and anti-Union sen­ti­ments abound­ing, it would not sur­prise us if that party’s leader had led with I’ve Got to Get Out of This Place. She could have asked her fol­low­ers to Give Me Just a Lit­tle More Time to de­liver her plan for a State of In­de­pen­dence.

There’s no doubt that we have to give The Boss some credit for at least still hav­ing pur­pose and di­rec­tion.

That’s more than can be said for the op­po­si­tion par­ties south of the bor­der.

Fol­low­ing on from two Gen­eral Elec­tions in quick suc­ces­sion, the Op­po­si­tion failed to get the pop­u­lar vote and had to ad­mit “You Win Again”. They will ask them­selves what went wrong, and be­gin to plan for an­other round.

For many peo­ple, elec­tions are all about po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Some vot­ers will be life­long sup­port­ers of a par­tic­u­lar choice, but some will change pref­er­ences ac­cord­ing to how par­tic­u­lar is­sues are be­ing han­dled at the time.

How­ever, sur­veys have shown that a party leader’s high pro­file will in­flu­ence a voter’s choice on the day.

So, how can these lead­ers win a pop­u­lar vote? Do op­po­si­tion par­ties give it a lit­tle more thought and pre­pare their lead­ers’ au­di­tions? There’s no need for any­one to be Danc­ing on the Ceil­ing, but one party will have to find a way to Pick Up the Pieces and get its share of elected mem­bers to a level that it once was.

There are two other hope­fuls that would love to reach a Higher Ground, but will sim­ply have to re­main con­tent with just swing­ing along to The Land of Make Be­lieve. Then, I can just about Imag­ine the last one on my list be­ing pushed onto the stage. A cer­tain prin­ci­pled politi­cian would protest, as he once fa­mously used to. “I Don’t Wanna Dance”, he would com­plain. “These Boots Are Made for Walkin - and I’m not wear­ing those blessed leop­ard skin heels!”

Fi­nally, I will end my ram­blings, but it may be worth tak­ing stock of what has been learned from these con­fer­ences.

That’s right – noth­ing new, apart from just one small ex­cep­tion, and a lin­ger­ing thought. Should a cer­tain leader’s po­lit­i­cal for­tunes change over the com­ing months, this re­hearsal could stand one in good stead for next year’s se­lec­tion on Satur­day night’s Strictly. Now, would that not catch a vote or two?

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