Conservative Party Conference
What a week it has been. I was lucky enough to attend the Conservative Party Conference for the first time and be able to experience conference season at its best. I wasn’t too sure what to expect – especially going on my own – but the atmosphere in the fringe events, the main hall and the exhibition area was amazing. Not only were people willing to speak with you and share ideas, but when you contributed ideas and thoughts to the members only sessions, delegates would congratulate you and/or talk about those points with you more when we bump into each other. I have to say, that it wasn’t what I expected at all, it was a lot more friendly, relaxed but an environment to be able to speak up about things that needed to stay the same and things that needed to change.
The week started in Sunday the 29th of September at 10.00 when I attended the National Conservative Convention meeting. It was a great insight to what the party had done over the last year and that the plans were for the next year. And of course, Prime Minister David Cameron made an appearance and took questions from the floor about gay marriages, voters intentions and Scottish Independence and more.
The main hall events started later on in the afternoon with a few speeches from President of the National Conservative Convention Charles Heslop and Chairman of the party Grant Shapps and others. The highlight of the opening for me was the ‘Our Maggie’ film. I didn’t live through the years of when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister but I have heard a lot of stories – like many of you would have. But ultimately, this film was a good insight into what people thought about her values and her morals, the way she held this country together and how she tried to allow opportunity for all. I’m not going say she was perfect – everyone makes mistakes – but her values and morals did make her the greatest peacetime Prime Minister Britain has had. You can watch the film here — http://youtu.be/OvCIBIC69c8 Having read many history books and biographies of many Prime Ministers – one thing that stood out about Mrs T was she always put the country first not her own ambition. She made sure the country stood for something.
We then heard from Justine Greening about how Britain is trying to invest in girls and women abroad, helping families in Ghana combat Malaria and the development happening in Somalia and Yemen. William Hague then spoke about Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran’s nuclear programme and Syria. He said the ‘promising words needs to be matched with genuine action’ and that cosmetic change was not enough – we needed real change.
Day 2 continued in the same style. We had Karren Brady, Vice-chairman of Wet Ham and of course right-hand to Lord Sugar on the Apprentice, introducing the Chancellor George Osborne. The Chancellor spoke about fixing prices and capping wealth would stop entrepreneurships – whereas what we needed was freedom and a free market. The wealth of the nation was built on a few simple things; businesses allowed to run, exports if business are allowed to make things people want to buy, investments grows only if the country is a place to buy and sell, and the wealth can be spread only if children have a good education and upbringing. He went on to say ‘we are not afraid of the future, we intend to shape it.’
In the afternoon, we heard from Home Secretary Theresa May. Not for me this was one of my favourite speeches. The Home Secretary spoke about being British and British values – I’m very patriotic so this speech had a big impact on me. For me the best line of the speech came early on ‘whatever the race, religion and beliefs of a terrorist, whatever the race, religion and beliefs of their victims, this is Britain and we are all British – we stand united against terrorism and we will never succumb to violence.’ She spoke about the Immigration bill which if passed will deport people first then they will be given the right to appeal and how the ‘family life’ clause will no longer apply. More importantly, the changes to the ‘slavery bill’ to a ‘modern slavery bill’ so that anyone caught human trafficking will be held to account under the slavery definition.
Another good speech for me was from Damian Green. He spoke about Grooming and being a Sikh, Grooming is very high in my community. He said that the statistics had been hidden for too long; the scale of the problem was that 2120 lone perpetrators groomed young women and girls in 25 police force areas alone. 65 gangs related offences occurred in 31 police force areas. Then there was organized grooming – where a girl or young woman would be offered drinks, drugs, presents and then had their lives ruined. From next week a agency was to be set up to help tackle this problem and create more awareness. His department were looking into making it easier for people to come forward and looking into pre-recorded cross examinations, reducing the number of cross-examinations when there is a gang on trial and building a new victims code.
Day 3 was Boris Johnsons speech – as much as I enjoyed it, there was very little substance and the media has exhausted everything I could possibly write about so I’m going to leave this one. Eric Pickles then spoke on local communities and how he would challenge councils about the amount of yellow lines on the high street. He said it should be made easier for people to be able to pop into the local shop on the way home from work without having to find a parking spot or being caught my ‘spy cameras’ for having stayed a few minutes over the allocated time limit.
The afternoon was another great and inspiring one for me. It was the education and health session where we started with Jeremy Hint talking about how he rolls up his sleeves and is proactive in his role as Health Secretary. He would be introducing a names GP for the elderly so that they can have more one-to-one care and when/if they need to be cared for later in life, they would no-longer have to sell their homes to cover the costs.
Michael Gove’s education session was great as he got his message across without saying one word himself – we had Lindsay Johns who is a ‘Leader of Tomorrow’ volunteer in Peckham, George Parker a US representative who is wanting to take Gove’s plans to the US and Mark Lehain a Headteacher of the Bedford Free School, one of the first built. These speeches were really inspiring on how ‘if we raised the bar for our children, the children would raise their game to meet it’ and how ‘each teacher is given the freedom to go above and beyond’ but the underlying message was ‘each child should be given the opportunity to flourish.’ I would very much recommend watching Lindsay Johns speech which is available here – http://youtu.be/l9tqVTUbhhI
Now the last Day was when the Prime Minister addressing the conference. The thing that I got from the speech – was how much we have accomplished in three years;
– Abu Qatada deported
– protected spending on the NHS
– funding a cancer drug
– vetoed an EU treaty
– cut the EU budget
– have more allies in Europe
– out of the EU bailout
– and more.
Another section of the speech was about the future – the land of opportunity. Each individual deserves to be able to build and own their own house hence the Help to Buy scheme. Each individual deserves to be able to start their own business hence the Start-up Loans. Each child deserves the best school possible hence the opening of free schools. The land of opportunity is about ‘giving people the ladder to climb so they can climb it by their own efforts.’
An analysis of the speech by The Times can be seen below:
Photos from the conference are available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hkaur92/sets/72157636027902885/
Miliband v Mail
The other story this week was: Miliband v Mail. Now this is a tricky subject for me as I can see both points. On one side there is a father being basically smeared through the press, on the other there is the freedom of the press argument to make.
Personally, without going into long debates and discussion on this issue – until there is some kind of regulation or code for the press to live by, we are always going to get this kind of behaviour from newspapers and/or news channels. Just like politicians are held to account for what they say, their expenses and how they represent their constituents, I believe that the press should also be held to account over what the print and what they say on air and/or online.