Today marks the end of a working week that saw Rishi Sunak working to present his vision for Britain at the 2023 Conservative Party conference. It also saw him address his party as their Leader for the first time.
In 2022 we were treated to a more energetic version of a long-term challenge for the future that fell flat as interest rates soared and sterling fell.
What a difference a year makes.
This year the challenges met were HS2, a multi-generational project being cancelled, a once-in-a-generation change to the education system and the biggest health policy intervention in decades for the next generation. There is a golden thread here, but it was left unpulled.
Also left un-troubled was the Government’s position on housing, planning, water quality, inflation, social care – a whole speech worth of content left out.
The danger in leaving these issues out is that it writes the Labour Leader’s speech for him. Heading to Liverpool by train this weekend (albeit slowly) are hopeful Labour activists, councillors and MPs, with a sense of optimism and energy.
Before the conference begins, on Saturday night for the hardcore, there will be polls on Labour and word clouds on Sir Keir Starmer, which will seek to dent this confidence. But the result in Scotland, the first piece of comfort there for many years, will put a spring in his step.
Unusually for Labour in recent times, a sense of unity, purpose and hunger for power should make it an exciting four days in Liverpool.
However, party unity will not be enough. Along with the electoral mountain to climb to reclaim power, there will need to be a balancing act of policy announcements to inspire confidence and not make Labour an easy target as it has been in the past.
How are the thousands of new homes needing to be built going to be affordable and sustainable so that people can afford and want to live in them? Is levelling up more than the sum of its slogan, or does fixing potholes in Dorset count as proper spending? These are some of the questions that people will looking to be answered in Liverpool.
There is a massive expectation that the Labour party is not just seen as a government in waiting, but a government with a plan.
Things to look out for in hustle and bustle of the fringe events will be the sound of business voices seeking clarity, insight and guidance on granular details on life under Labour.
On Tuesday, Kanda Consulting and SME4Labour will be hosting a panel discussion on the future of Britain’s High Streets, and a reception celebrating communities, local government and businesses working together, which will help facilitate these crucial conversations.
This is the sort of event that would have been difficult to arrange in the years preceding the current Leadership, and by being behind in the polls. But confidence breeds confidence and the culmination of this should be seen on the main stage of the conference hall and the fringe meetings on the side.
We are looking forward to watching the conference unfold, and seeing how this so-called government in waiting, is a government in waiting with a plan for Britain.
Written by Jack Johnson
Photo credit: Simon Dack News / Alamy Stock Photo