Conferences essentially have little to do with real politics, it often seems that parties, a little like a car manufacturer putting its ideal car on a stand at one of the big motor shows, try to show what they can do but not necessarily what they will do. The media role, it seems, is to try and prove why the ideal car wont run on the available fuel. Well I liked that analogy!
The Conservatives have talked a lot about Gordon Brown, I lost count during Osborne's speech! Osborne also suggested the following "the new economy... succeeds by trusting in the collective wisdom that emerges from free people making individual decisions about their own lives. That's how Google works. It's how FaceBook works. It's how MySpace works. But it is not how Gordon Brown works". But, apart from being highly successful businesses, what does the organisation of social media tell us about he economy. Sorry I didn't get that - is there an economist in the house?
David Davis compared Brown unfavourably with Margaret Thatcher, but also told a lot of inspiring stories of the sort of people he argues possess the true spirit of Britain, almost. He also evoked a wonderful image thus: "It's come to something, hasn't it when Gordon Brown presents himself as Dunfermline's answer to Mrs. T. And Jack Straw presents himself as Blackburn's answer to Mister T." Like him or not its a good one-liner!
Alan Duncan introduced anti-Communism, well at least a combined and confused ramble on the works of George Orwell. There was "We are living in the world predicted by George Orwell. Gordon Brown was elected in 1983. I feel it all started in 1984." errr well the first thirteen years was a Conservative government? And then "And even now, if you know your Animal Farm, there is an unsuspecting Snowdrop the pig sitting somewhere around his cabinet table." I do know my Animal Farm, the pig who was a caricature of Trotsky was called Snowball. I like Alan Duncan, but this was a little weird.
The bit that is overlooked is the New World booklet, this contrast Brown's 'Old Politics' with changes that are required (see screenshot below).
It is very idealist, the problem is that these simple ideas get lost in the rhetoric, jokes and weird references. Though perhaps as there is a lack of substance, more a case of trust us to do this, then maybe it is not these key ideas that are intended to be communicated. But it returns us to the idea of what a conference is, is it a marketplace for ideas or just a piece of branding and showmanship.