Activists plan ‘rave’: Conservative answer to Glastonbury, designed to provide a cool gloss to Theresa May’s party
Henry Mance, FT’s Political Correspondent writes: “Camping. Slow food. Inspirational speakers. A Pyramid stage. It could be Glastonbury, except for one feature: Tory activists . . . The festival will be invitation-only with between 150 and 200 attendees, some of whom will camp”.
Mr Freeman said he hoped the event would become an annual fixture, adding that this year’s festival would be like a “first rave, you’ll remember who you brought” – unlikely!
Organisers of a new “Conservative Ideas Festival” are hoping to revive the spirit and popular appeal of Theresa May’s party after its battering in June’s general election. The party’s membership has fallen to somewhere below 150,000 — less than one-third that of Labour’s and not far ahead of the Scottish National party and the Liberal Democrats.
The party has fallen behind Labour in opinion polls, while Mrs May’s personal ratings are below those of Mr Corbyn, who was once seen as unelectable.
George Freeman, the Norfolk MP who chairs Mrs May’s policy board, came up with the idea after Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn took the Glastonbury Festival by storm this summer. “Why is it just the left who have all the fun in politics?” he said after Mr Corbyn’s appearance. saying his idea for a rightwing festival “seems to have struck a chord” and that he had “some wonderful offers of help of sponsorship and venues”. He told the Financial Times this week that he had raised £25,000 for a one-day event to be held in September.
The Conservatives will also hold their annual party conference in Manchester at the start of October, charging companies £32,500 for a 6m by 6m exhibition stand. Can’t wait!
Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected as Labour leader, winning 61.8% of the vote. He vows to bring Labour back together, saying “we have much more in common than divides us” and insisting the party could win the next election as the “engine of progress” in the country. More than half a million party members, trade unionists and registered supporters voted in the contest. To see the video click here.
This is not just support for the leader – often said by detractors to be unelectable. The party under his leadership had Labour’s best council by election result since the General Election – reported David Hencke. In his blog he recorded yesterday that Labour councillors had been elected in the Midlands, North West and Scotland: Results:
- Labour won two Conservative-held seats they won a seat in Cockermouth with a 5% increase in a solid Tory ward in the town.
- Arley & Whitacre, North Warwickshire, where there was a high Conservative vote in the general election, was gained by Labour (+33% of the vote).
- Labour won a seat from the SNP
- Two Conservative seats went to the Liberal Democrats.
- Plaid Cymru took a seat from Independents.
- Last month in North Ayrshire Labour came from behind to win, though challenged by Nicola Sturgeon’s father.
Hencke comments that in both cases the STV system helped Labour gain the seats. What appears to be happening is that more people voting for opponents of SNP end up switching eventually to Labour rather than helping the SNP hold the seat. He noted a 20% rise in support for the Liberal Democrats which pushed the Tories into third place.
He adds that UKIP continue to do badly. In Gateshead they got 1.3% more of the vote but the Lib Dems did better. In other places UKIP got a small share of the vote – for example coming bottom in Coatbridge with just 63 votes compared to over 1350 for the winner.
On present performance in council areas it is the Liberal Democrats rather than UKIP that are re-emerging as the challenger to the Tories in the rural shires and to Labour in the cities.
And all is not lost for Labour on this performance, provided they unite.