New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
2 October 2019

The subtext of the Tory conference is “It Stands To Reason”

There is no preconceived notion too daft to pander to.

By Stephen Bush

I’ve been trying to work out what the atmosphere at this conference reminds me of, and I’ve cracked it: it’s the Liberal Democrats in Bournemouth in 2015, or Labour in 2010 (also in Manchester, as it happens). It’s a party that is sneakily, quietly, happy not to have to trouble itself with the hard contours of policy reality anymore.

The umbrella slogan of this conference is Get Brexit Done but the subtext is It Stands To Reason. It stands to reason that we send too many people to university. It stands to reason that the only language criminals understand is the hang ‘em and flog ‘em approach of Priti Patel.  It stands to reason that no deal is nothing to worry about. 

No preconceived notion too daft to pander to. Boris Johnson will use his speech to do two things: to announce more financial giveways and to unveil his proposals on the Irish border, which if the full reality resembles the leaks will be unworkable. Both will be cheered to the rafters. 

Of course, the crucial difference between then and now is that the Conservatives haven’t left office and might not leave it for some time – although in quiet corners, it doesn’t take long for the odd MP, a special advisor, or even a cabinet minister to wonder if this electoral strategy is putting them on a one-way road to electoral disaster. 

Are they right? The risk, still, is that, when push comes to shove, they can’t make up what they lose to the Liberal Democrats with what they lose to Labour. But my hunch – and it’s just a hunch – Is that this approach is going to do well enough, thanks to our electoral system and the divided and unpopular opposition, to get the Conservatives back in.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

The problem then of course, is that no deal is something to worry about. And that while you can campaign successfully on a bunch of unworkable stuff, you can’t govern on it. 

Content from our partners
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors