Yesterday, the final day of the Conservative Party conference appeared to go very well. Mr Cameron gave a rousing speech that encouraged his supporters in the Birmingham Conference Hall, and no doubt many people who watched the excerpts played on our TV screens. However the end was not as well as the effusive Allegra Stratton suggested in her commentary on the BBC afterwards. Leave aside that Mr Cameron chose to remind us all that his daughter was left behind in a pub by her father and his ‘security’ detail. This sort of comment is usually reserved in Conference speeches for people ‘not like us’. However it is certainly not a message likely to endear anyone to a forgetful Father who is about to berate someone else for omitting a couple of lines in a speech to friends and colleagues. The two matters are certainly not in the same league of importance, unless of course leaving children in pubs really does happen regularly.
Within a few hours of the speech the GPs who are now meeting in Liverpool had made their own response clear. If Mr Cameron wants GP practices to be open 7 days a week after the next election, then he will need to do something now to ensure that there are sufficient GP practices to maintain the existing contractual arrangements. Although Mr Cameron had no requirement to clear his speech with Jeremy Hunt, it cannot have helped his case that Mr Hunt had already explained that he wants us all to have a nominated GP. The risk is these two promises will be conflated in the minds of many who have to visit their GP regularly, and be recalled as a 7 day week availability of the nominated GP. Perhaps Mr Cameron might like to speak to his own MPs to ask them how well they could sustain a 7 day a week availability to their constituents on demand. It is hard to listen to a Prime Minister who gets angry about the accusation that he doesn’t care about the NHS, when he seems unwilling to discuss his thoughts with his own Health Secretary, let alone the GPs whose contract he plans to amend.
The fun that Mr Cameron poked at Mr Miliband for all but ignoring the economy a week ago, whilst totally understandable, rather puts his own speech up for even greater scrutiny than might otherwise be the case. What did the Prime Minister miss out. He may have stuck to his script, but his script ignored the importance of the environment as this article reflects. The Vote Blue, get Green promise from 2010 is as hollow as the idea that we are all in this together. Perhaps the confluence of the references to oil rigs and the need to protect the environment would have been too much, even for this Prime Minister.
The final element of yesterdays Conference was the news from Mr Hague, someone who David Cameron had described as the greatest living Yorkshireman earlier on in the conference. Something many of us might dispute. Mr Hague claimed he did not know who Arron Banks was, and implied that Mr Banks decision to fund UKIP to the tune of £100,000 was of no consequence to the Conservative Party. This slight led Mr Banks who has previously donated £250,000 to the Tories, to increase his donation to UKIP upto £1M. UKIP fundraisers could not have hoped to achieve this sort of outcome without the help of someone they too might now describe as the greatest living Yorkshireman. Putting aside which party has benefitted from the deep pockets of Mr Banks, surely it is time for all of our parties to put an end to this sort of obscene party funding? It cannot be right for one person to have so much influence over any party. However like the commitment to the environment, the promise to end large donations was the subject of a different conference speech!