Thursday, 7 October 2010
Good or bad conference for the PM?
At the start if the conference season, I had thought that, in comparison to Labour and the Liberal Democrats, the Conservative conference would seem rather dull. In fact, it was one of the strangest and most interesting conferences due to it being hijacked by the Chancellor's announcement that child benefit would be cut for families with high incomes (most of whom are Conservative voters). George Osborne apparently announced his plan without talking to the Cabinet, something for which Mr. Osborne used to criticise Gordon Brown.
Many Conservative delegates and MPs were greatly angered at the announcement but an opinion poll suggested that 83% of people support the cut. Although, as most commentators pointed out, about 83% of people aren't affected by the cut and it's easy to support someone else losing money.
David Cameron's speech on Wednesday was good, but not his best. There was a very sweet moment when the Prime Minister talked about Niamh Riley, a six-year-old girl from Salford who sent Mr. Cameron a £1 from the tooth fairy to help with the deficit. Mr. Cameron apparently returned the money with a thankful note advising Miss Riley to 'treat herself'.
To me, it seemed as if the bad headlines were affecting the PM (either that or his newborn had been keeping him up). George Osborne however was unaffected and unapologetic, he knows that there are worse cuts needed and that the government is going to become very unpopular in the next few months.
However, the next general election is a long way away, and the coalition hopes that by the time polling day comes, the economy will have been repaired and the government will get the credit. In the meantime, they will have to suffer through some very bad headlines and a few more hijacked conferences.